Citizens to decide if medicinal marijuana shops make sense
■ By Chris Smith / Advisory Editor
NEW YEAR’S REVIEW
First Published: Sept. 27, 2018
The times they are a changin’. That line from the 1964 Bob Dylan song of the same name could have been playing in the background of the Elks Lodge Monday night when Hemet City Councilwoman Linda Krupa addressed the Hemet San Jacinto Valley RWF (Republican Women’s Club Federated ) as part of a quartet of speakers to address the conservative group on “meet the candidates” night.
Other speakers at the meeting included Joel Ortiz and Mike Van Der Linden, candidates for San Jacinto City Council, and local attorney Rob Davis, an appointment to the Hemet School Board, who is hoping to keep his seat by winning election in November.
Krupa, a two-term general city council member who is seeking a third term but as a representative of Hemet’s District 5, told the group it’s “time to face reality” about marijuana since polling results show that the vast majority of Hemet residents believe it should be sold within city limits for medicinal purposes.
When the baby boomers are starting to develop the chronic diseases associated with old age and realize that a drug that once was illegal can help them treat their pain, you better believe it’s time to change the rules.
Krupa said she has had to wrestle with her own conservative roots forged in her native North Dakota where using marijuana simply was unacceptable. “You just didn’t do that.”
But recent changes to California law, and other states across the country, which make it legal for citizens in the state to possess small amounts of marijuana for recreational use, are changing people’s attitudes.
Some 44 percent of Hemet residents believe the city should allow marijuana sales for recreational use, Krupa said, citing a recent poll of the city’s residents. She didn’t elaborate on who conducted the poll or how many citizens were included in the survey. In fact, the survey, conducted by FM3 Research, interviewed more than 653 people for the survey. It found that most residents weren’t aware that marijuana businesses of any kind – medicinal or otherwise – are illegal in Hemet. Overall, 50 percent of respondents favored allowing such businesses, 47 percent were opposed, and 3 percent were undecided. The survey indicated some 72 percent of respondents favored permitting the sale of marijuana for medicinal purposes, although Krupa cited a slightly lower figure.
Krupa suggested that it’s time the city begin moving toward a policy to permit the sale of marijuana for the purpose of alleviating people’s suffering. She stopped short of giving carte blanche to recreational retail outlets noting that, while a large number of people do support that, a majority of residents still do not, according to Krupa’s figures.
Krupa’s comments come at a time of transition and some confusion about the city’s policy regarding marijuana. While a bloom of scofflaw pot shops that opened up in downtown and along Florida Avenue earlier this spring suggested the city was taking a look-the-other-way approach to selling pot, they all suddenly closed down about the same time, apparently when the city decided to crack down on its no-pot-for-sale-here policy. The closures prompted letters to the Chronicle complaining about the crackdown saying that it made it difficult for those who need medicinal marijuana to obtain it locally.
Meanwhile, a citizen’s group – apparently from outside the area – gathered enough signatures last spring to place a measure on the Nov. 6 ballot – Measure Y – that would allow companies to grow marijuana within city limits after obtaining a $25 license. The measure, which doesn’t address the issue of retail shops, practically ensures that the city could not generate sufficient revenue from the controversial business to cover the anticipated costs of regulation and enforcement.
In response to the citizen initiative, the Hemet City Council decided to put its own initiative on the ballot as an alternative. That measure – Measure Z – would give the city up to two years to figure out how to manage marijuana businesses, both retail and wholesale, and tax them at a fair rate that would cover the costs of regulation.
While Krupa, a former mayor of the city, was cautious introducing the change in the city’s philosophy about cannabis when addressing the senior women, it’s clear the times in Hemet are a changin’.