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Paso Robles considering cannabis storefronts after survey reveals widespread support

Seaweed on Ocean Cannabis Dispensary in Lompoc has the only cannabis lounge in the area right now, but Grover Beach could soon be next.
Courtesy of Seaweed on Ocean
A vendor points to a selection of cannabis strains for sale during a 2018 cannabis festival in California.

Respondents of a community-wide cannabis survey in Paso Robles showed strong support for legalizing adult cannabis use and cannabis retail storefronts in the area.

Over 1,000 Paso Robles residents, business owners, and property owners participated in the survey distributed by the city.

62 percent of survey participants said they voted in favor of Proposition 64, which legalized recreational cannabis use for adults over the age of 21. This response aligned with the actual voting results for Prop. 64 within the city.

“You have passionate individuals on both sides,” said Paso Robles Assistant City Manager Chris Huot, “And so that’s part of the process local government goes through to evaluate things each and every day, and ultimately the council makes the policy decision on that.”

The survey came after a heated public forum in August allowed community members to voice their opinions on local cannabis regulations. Many residents at the forum vouched for the benefits of medicinal and recreational cannabis use.

After the city council approved a law in October, which allowed Paso Robles medical delivery services to also deliver recreational cannabis, the next policy in question is whether or not the city will allow physical cannabis storefronts in the area.

Paso Robles business professional and recreational cannabis user Elena Garcia argued at the forum that surrounding cities have successfully opened cannabis storefronts, and Paso should follow suit.

A marijuana plant is displayed during the 2016 Cannabis Business Summit & Expo last month in Oakland, Calif.
Justin Sullivan
Getty Images
A marijuana plant is displayed during the 2016 Cannabis Business Summit & Expo last month in Oakland, Calif.

“I would love to not have to drive to Grover Beach and other areas to spend my money, and I would love that revenue to be supporting my hometown of Paso,” said Garcia.

Other residents said they could not support legal access to a psychoactive drug. Longtime Paso Robles resident Sherry Nelson argued that cannabis storefronts could lead local youth to rely on drugs, like cannabis, to treat psychological and emotional stress.

“To teach our youth, or even adults, that if they feel a little depressed, a little anxious, to immediately go to drugs for the answer; that is a lifetime of horrors in situations,” said Nelson.

Another growing question is if cannabis could potentially complement Paso Robles’ renowned wine industry.

Some Central Coast wineries have already started to incorporate cannabis into their practices. Last year, Sunstone Winery in Santa Barbara became the first in its county to earn a permit to grow cannabis alongside its grapes. Huot said it’s possible that wineries in Paso could someday follow suit.

“I’m certain that there are folks that are involved in the wine business that certainly are keeping their eye on the Cannabis industry, and whether or not those paths cross is to be determined,” said Huot.

According to the City of Paso Robles, data gathered in the public forum and subsequent survey will be important parts of the ongoing cannabis policy discussion in Paso Robles.

Amanda Wernik is a reporter and substitute announcer at KCBX. She graduated from Cal Poly with a BS in Journalism. During her time at Cal Poly, she worked as a news anchor for KCPR Radio and as an intern for the CJ Silas Show on ESPN Radio.
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