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By Eric Heinz

In last November’s election, the majority of San Clemente voters were in favor of Proposition 64 (to legalize recreational marijuana)—17,119 voted yes and 15,049 voted no—according to the Orange County Registrar of Voters statement of votes.

In 2016, San Clemente City Council enacted a zoning ordinance that bans businesses from selling and distributing marijuana within the city. This decision was made with the forethought that San Clemente would be stuck with the state’s laws, if Gov. Jerry Brown didn’t enact AB 21, which initially required local governments to pass their own regulations on marijuana regulation before the proposition even went to election. Brown didn’t, but the City Council moved forward on it in anticipation of the results, voting unanimously.

At City Council meetings leading up to the decision, people against Prop 64 outnumbered supporters at least 10 to one during public hearings.

People will still be able to grow up to six cannabis plants in their homes in San Clemente without having to obtain a license or permit.

In looking at what could be done in the future, Mayor Kathy Ward said this outcome will not likely change the city’s law.

“I don’t anticipate that would change the Council’s decision on sales and delivery services and now cultivation operations doing business in San Clemente,” Ward said in an email. “The vote was unanimous to not provide sales, cultivation and delivery, and that was not approved whichever way the (vote) would go.”
Ward mentioned that personal cultivation, up to six plants inside a residence, is still allowed.

Councilman Chris Hamm said he doesn’t think the margin is significant enough to warrant any changes to the existing bans.

“I’m committed to preserving the quality and character of our community. With any issue facing San Clemente, if there was a large grassroots movement for it, I would be willing to reconsider our zoning,” Hamm wrote in an email. “I believe the negative impacts far outweigh the positive impacts of having that type of business in our beachside community. I support the direction our state has taken and support individual rights to grow/use in the privacy of your own home.”

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