San Diego legalizes supply chain for marijuana operations

San Diego finalized its legalization of marijuana cultivation and manufacturing Tuesday, becoming one of the few cities in California to have a fully regulated supply chain for the drug.

Making indoor pot farms and manufacturing sites for edible products legal will boost the economy, create jobs and improve the quality and safety of local marijuana, City Council members said before approving the legislation in a 6-3 vote.

Opponents also said city officials didn’t solicit enough public input when crafting the new legislation, contending the local marijuana industry was allowed to have too much influence.

Councilman Mark Kersey, a Republican who joined the council’s five Democrats in support of the legislation, said it’s important to regulate the drug properly now that it’s been legalized by state voters, including 61.6 percent approval in San Diego.

"My focus now is on implementing the will of the voters in the absolute safest way possible, while minimizing impacts to our communities," said Kersey, noting that some pot farms and factories have been operating locally in quasi-legal fashion without being magnets for crime. “The ordinance before us is a logical and responsible addition so that we can regulate these facilities."

The council, which gave the city legislation the first of two necessary approvals on Sept. 11, tweaked the regulations Tuesday to require that marijuana production businesses have “odor-absorbing ventilation and exhaust systems.”

The goal is to prevent people passing by indoor pot farms or manufacturing operations from being overwhelmed by the sometimes pungent odor of marijuana, especially when many pounds of it are together in the same place.

The council also took the less controversial step of allowing marijuana testing facilities in the city.

The approvals complete a local supply chain. San Diego legalized sales of medical marijuana at city-approved and tightly regulated dispensaries in 2014 and agreed earlier this year to allow those dispensaries to expand their sales to recreational customers when new state laws take effect in January.

The city has approved 17 such businesses, and 11 have begun operating.

Garrick writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune.

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