Council of Antioch postpones ban on sale of tobacco products until December 1 and refuses cannabis event at fairgrounds
Approves four cannabis business deals, the purchase of 11 police vehicles and the receipt of $2.2 million in public funds for the rehabilitation of the Nick Rodriguez Center
By Allen D. Payton
At their meeting on Tuesday, May 24, 2022, the Antioch City Council voted 3 to 1 to delay the ban on the sale of certain tobacco products until December 1, with Mayor Lamar Thorpe voting no and Mayor Pro Tem Mike Barbanica absent. The board also approved operating agreements with four cannabis companies and the purchase of 11 police vehicles in the 590 page agenda with 13 elements including the consent calendar, which had its own 16 elements. But the board denied approval of a cannabis event at the fairgrounds by CoCo Farms in a 2-1-1 vote.
Extends the grace period for the ban on the sale of certain tobacco products until December 1
The ban on the sale of tobacco products came into effect on April 7. Soon after, the council faced a backlash from the city’s tobacco retailers, both for the lack of notification and for the ban itself. The grace period will last until December 1, after a statewide referendum on the November ballot can be voted on and decided. (See linked article)
During public comments on the article, former Antioch councilor Norma Hernandez, who along with her husband Ralph, also a former council member, helped lead the effort on behalf of tobacco retailers, thanked District 3 Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock for having the matter reconsidered by the Council.
The purpose of bringing that back today was not to reconsider what we did, what we are doing is extending the grace period,” Thorpe said. “I always support what we have done. I was friendly and went to meet shop owners. I brought him back. But I’m not going to change my position on what we did.
He also talked about the tobacco industry’s support for the coalition to repeal the statewide ban and the millions of dollars they’ve contributed to the effort.
“What we have done is listen to our young people,” he continued. “Understand why we made this decision. I support the grace period. But I’m still where I am.
“I support the grace period,” Ogorchock said, then moved the motion to pass it until Dec. 1. After a long pause, District 1 Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker backed her up. The motion passed on a 3-1 with Thorpe voting against.
Approves all consent schedule items
The board voted to approve all but one of the 16 items on the consent schedule on a 4-0 vote, except for item F which Ogorchock requested be removed for a separate vote. This item was the second reading for the creation of the Antioch Police Oversight Commission which passed a 3-1 vote at the last meeting when Ogorchock was absent and Barbanica voted no. Again, he passed a 3-1 vote with Ogorchock voting no, this time.
The other 15 items included establishing a policy on equipment for military use pursuant to Assembly Bill 481; the purchase of 11 police vehicles at a cost not exceeding $523,141.10; extend the contract with the city’s public information officer for another six months for a total of $288,000; and authorizing the filing of a project grant application through the California Natural Resources Agency for $2.2 million for the rehabilitation of the Nick Rodriguez Community Center. According to the staff report on the matter, “In July 2021, staff were advised that the project was approved and a total of $2,200,000 had been awarded for the project.”
The board also approved the minutes of its meetings of April 12, 19 and 26 and May 10.
New City Department Forms
The council voted 3-1-1 to form the new Department of Public Safety and Community Resources, with Ogorchock voting no. It will take five existing services from other departments and add two new services. (See related articles here and here)
“Environmental justice…housing…youth services…violence prevention is about public safety,” Torres-Walker said in support of his proposed new department.
“I’m definitely not creating the change…the voters created the change you see today,” Thorpe added.
Approves operating agreements with five cannabis companies
The board approved operating agreements with five cannabis businesses in the city, including Delta Family Pharms, Inc. co-located with the Delta Dispensary on W. 10th Street and owned by the same operators.
Ralph Hernandez spoke out against cannabis companies saying it’s still illegal under federal law and the city shouldn’t partner with companies that operate against federal law. He also said that marijuana is a gateway drug and many prisoners started out with marijuana.
Hernandez spoke about the negative side effects of marijuana use, including paranoia and schizophrenia.
“A joint is equivalent to 20 cigarettes,” he said.
“You’ve all been sworn to uphold the law, both state and federal, but here the city condones breaking federal law,” Hernandez said. “It does not make sense.”
Andrew Becker, resident and local homeless advocate, then spoke, saying that federal marijuana laws allow “people to be incarcerated for decades.”
“People can become addicted to MacDonald’s and end up becoming gamers,” he said. “It’s the system that breaks communities, not cannabis.”
“Let’s look at these opportunity programs that come from cannabis,” Becker added, referring to city requirements that cannabis companies donate a portion of their revenue to local nonprofits.
“I am thrilled that the East County Justice Center is a beneficiary,” Ogorchock said. She also demanded that the Bedford Center benefit from the venture.
The board approved another cannabis business operating agreement for Delta Labs, owned by the same family, to be located in the same location but “in a different office, for manufacturing using non-volatile chemicals. .. taking the grown cannabis… and processing it for sale in a cannabis facility,” a city staff member said.
Hernandez spoke again, saying, “”I have personally seen the consequences of people using marijuana. They smoked marijuana, they got high, the vehicles wrecked. They do home burglaries.
“It’s not a candy…even though they put it in products to make candy out of it…brownies,” he said. “The consequences may not all be fatal or serious. I saw the bodies, I saw the results. I have the photos that I took of people. I’ll show them to you if you want.
“I don’t think you should endorse it just so the city can get money from these people,” Hernandez added. “Don’t be sold by people who want to make money by giving you a carrot.”
Resident Brenda Barret said: ‘It’s a country where the drug culture…and people aren’t going to stop getting high. So the government decided that if they were going to get high, let’s make money off it.
“Maybe that money goes to pay our garbage bill,” she suggested. “If we want to get involved in drugs as a city, then everyone needs to benefit.”
“We’ve been doing this for three years now,” Thorpe said. “Councillor Wilson and I did not vote for Prop. 68 (which legalized recreational marijuana statewide). But we took the time to do our homework. When I saw the overwhelming support from the voters of Antioch, higher than the state…I think we came up with good policy. It was based on listening to the inhabitants. We did not arrive here by chance. It wasn’t a question of money. »
The board also approved operating agreements with KWMA Collective, located in the same building complex as Delta Dispensary but under different ownership and Bakery Antioch I, LLC located on W. 10th Street, to reflect Cookies’ change in ownership. at Red Workshop.
Denied approval for cannabis event at Fairgounds
In a surprise 2-1-1 vote, with Ogorchock voting no and Thorpe abstaining, the proposed cannabis event at the Contra Costa Event Center (fair) by CoCo Farms was declined. Thorpe had previously voted to move the proposed item forward and bring it back for a final vote that took place on Tuesday evening. (See linked article)
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