Police estimate Costa Mesa has more than 40 marijuana dispensaries, even though they are technically illegal because a city ordinance bans them.
Mayor Gary Monahan wants to legalize marijuana dispensaries in the city.
Speaking with retired U.S. Army veteran Robert Martinez on KOCI radio’s “Cannabis Community” show Sunday morning, which was broadcast from his bar, Skosh Monahan’s, Monahan said the city has to look at legalizing and registering the city’s collectives to bring in regulation.
“We’re looking at real closely registration and regulation, and hopefully weeding out some of the bad ones,” Monahan said. “If you’re not paying workman’s comp, if you’re not taking care of your product, if you’re putting bad things in there, that’s where the police have to come in and got to get those people out of there.”
Police estimate there are more than 40 marijuana dispensaries in the city, all of them technically illegal because of the city’s ordinance banning them. But police are shutting them down case by case, revealing shades of gray in how authorities view the operations.
“We don’t have the manpower to shut down 50 locations,” Monahan said on the show. “Everytime you shut one down, another pops up anyway.”
The city is in litigation with multiple marijuana dispensaries in the city; some the city has labeled as a “nuisance” and then shut them down. In the past three years, police have shuttered multiple marijuana businesses because they were operating outside the state’s Compassionate Use Act guidelines, which California voters approved in 1996 that legalized marijuana use for medicinal purposes.
Costa Mesa is facing a situation similar to cities across the state, Monahan said. There are guidelines on how dispensaries can operate, but there are no guidelines on how individual cities can regulate them, he said.
Monahan said he was open to formally requesting that Sacramento lawmakers create guidelines for local regulation. For now, the city is in a watch-and-wait pattern on how the courts handle other cities’ lawsuits over dispensary regulation.
“I’m working on coming up with a way to deal with this issue, but I don’t have the answers yet,” he said. “I’m working on one that I can bring to our City Council at some point.”
On another front, Monahan said he was unaware that Sunday’s broadcast was also being promoted by a local dispensary as a campaign fundraiser for him.
According to an employee at LiveWell Cooperative Caregivers, the club was handing out letters to its members encouraging them to hear Sunday’s broadcast from Skosh Monahan’s.
Local blogger Geoff West took a photo of the letter, which he said was posted on the club’s front door. In it, it offers free joints for anyone who brings back a receipt from the bar and a $20 credit if they donate $20 to Monahan’s reelection campaign.
“I absolutely knew nothing about that,” Monahan said. He said the event was not a fundraiser and he did not seek campaign donations.