In what was billed as a town hall meeting, nearly 70 people turned out Thursday night at The Diamond Club in Lake Elsinore to hear advocates talk about marijuana.
Hosted by Lake Elsinore resident Wayne Williams, founder of We The People, the free meeting was a kickoff to a campaign underway designed to let voters decide if they want medical marijuana facilities inside their city.
Williams has filed a Notice of Intent to circulate a petition and is now in the signature-gathering phase. His initiative seeks to amend Chapter 17.156 of the Lake Elsinore Municipal Code to license and regulate medical marijuana dispensaries.
If Williams can garner enough valid signatures, the issue would be put to Lake Elsinore voters during a 2013 special election.
According to the petition (see attached), Williams’ initiative would allow the licensing of three dispensaries for every 50,000 residents and the facilities would only be allowed to open in commercial or manufacturing zoning. Persons under 21 would not be allowed on dispensary premises, and the facilities would not be allowed within 1,000 feet of schools.
The initiative would also impose the following fees payable to the city: (1) an application fee of $2,500; (2) an annual license fee of $5,000; and (3) a permit fee of 8 percent of gross revenue paid quarterly.
Per the initiative, a three-member community oversight committee would be formed to oversee the dispensaries.
Guest speaker Neill Franklin, a retired Maryland police officer, told the crowd he began to think differently about America’s “War on Drugs” policy after seeing firsthand the fight’s cost in terms of money and lives. He said he watched cops and innocents get killed and communities and families ripped apart by the fight during his law enforcement career.
“It was the violence that caused me to turn 180 degrees,” he said. “It was all about the money. The War on Drugs is counterproductive to public safety.”
Franklin, who now serves as executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, said the alternative is education and ending “the mess of prohibition.”
No one at Thursday’s meeting spoke out against marijuana, however Lake Elsinore Unified School District governing board member Jeanie Corral was present for part of the meeting.
She said she’s seen firsthand young lives destroyed by drug use.
“I don’t like it,” she said. “I can’t get behind this.”