Pomona Mulls Commercial Pot

Officials in Pomona are moving to develop guidelines ahead of a measure to legalize commercial cannabis, which looks poised to appear on the November ballot.

Last week, the city council decided to proceed with drafting an ordinance permitting medicinal and recreational marijuana operations. Just how that mandate will look still needs to be decided.

Elected officials directed staff to bring back a checklist of key topics for the council to consider. Once the options have been narrowed down, staff will have a better sense of what guidelines to use for the draft ordinance, City Manager Linda Lowry explained.

[Councilwoman Ginna Escobar] did not hesitate when describing the type of cannabis operators she’d like to see in the city.

“We want Nordstrom-caliber operators,” she stated Monday night.

Marijuana sales have been banned in Pomona since 2017, but that hasn’t stopped illegal operators from flourishing. Escobar says there are at least a dozen unlicensed pot shops in the city right now.

Before approving any guidelines, the city council would have to answer some basic questions like whether to legalize recreational or medical cannabis or both; which types of cannabis businesses to permit and prohibit; whether there will be any caps; and what the review and approval process will look like.

There’s also the question of where cannabis businesses would be permitted to operate. Escobar is opposed to an idea that would allow pot shops in the downtown area.

Mayor Tim Sandoval cautioned his colleagues to proceed slowly and thoughtfully.

“There will be a social cost, in a city that is already dealing with real social issues,” he said. “We always have the option to expand but you don’t have the option to go back.”

The city council will meet again on June 18 and discuss their next move.