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By Kim Murphy
Murphy & Murphy Southern California Realty 

Real Estate Round-Up: Cannabis – Coming to a parcel near you


Last updated 2/17/2021 at 1:04pm

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted 4 to 1 in favor of supporting a set of policies intended to improve access and “social equity” in the cannabis industry. If you’re like me, you’re asking yourself, what in the world does “social equity” have to do with cannabis?

Let’s start with the Wikipedia definition of “social equity.” Social equity is concerned with justice and fairness of social policy. Since the 1960s, the concept of social equity has been used in a variety of institutional contexts, including education and public administration.

The concept of social equity can be traced back to the works of Aristotle and Plato. Definitions of social equity can vary, but all focus on the ideals of justice and fairness. Equity in old societies involves the role of public administrators, who are responsible for ensuring the social services are delivered equitably. This implies considering historical and current inequalities among groups. Fairness is depended on this social and historical context.

What does this have to do with cannabis? First, a little history. Recreational use of cannabis has been legal in California since late 2016. Cities and regions have passed or opposed ordinances that allow for the cultivation, manufacturing, and sale of cannabis products since then.

Del Mar currently has a prohibition on marijuana-based businesses and Solana Beach failed a measure designed to permit and regulate marijuana businesses. Marijuana dispensaries, cultivating and manufacturing facilities have been legal in the City of San Diego since 2017.

A 2020 measure in the city of Encinitas to create marijuana commercial zoning and regulation passed with 51% of the voters in favor. There are currently five dispensaries operating in the unincorporated areas.

Nathan Fletcher, chair of the San Diego County Supervisors believes that it is “vitally important in the unincorporated area that we have a safe, regulated, and legal cannabis system.” Based on that premise, he proposed a set of policies intended to expand farming, manufacturing, and retail opportunities in the unincorporated areas. Supervisor Jim Desmond of the 5th District, which includes Fallbrook, voted against the proposal.

With the passage of the proposal, county staff was directed to develop zoning ordinances that allow for cannabis retail, cultivation, manufacturing, distribution, and testing, lifting the existing ban against medical marijuana collectives and allowing for onsite consumption of cannabis products.

The social equity piece of the proposed ordinance prioritizes communities that historically have been disproportionately affected by the war on drugs. The goal is opening the industry to more low-income residents and people of color by training and mentorship to help them be a part of the anticipated lucrative cannabis industry.

The other piece related to social equity addresses individuals who previously were arrested and convicted of manufacturing and/or selling cannabis prior to 2016. They will not be forbidden from getting back into the industry, but rather will be given preferential treatment in obtaining a marijuana dispensary operating permit.

Improved access would mean that all commercially zoned property can become retail marijuana dispensaries, all agriculturally zoned property can cultivate marijuana, and all industrially zoned property can distribute and manufacture cannabis products. At the consumer level, consumption of marijuana products at facilities and events would become permitted.

The only limitation will be that these facilities cannot be located within 600 feet of a K-12 school, daycare center, or youth center.

If you’re like me, your head is spinning right now, because the explanations above sound counterintuitive to what a rational person would think makes sense.

How can it make sense to create social equity by helping underserved people learn the trade of cannabis? How can it make sense to prioritize people who broke the law by producing, manufacturing, and selling marijuana prior to its legalization, ahead of those who have waited to get involved now that it is legal? How can it make sense to allow the consumption of marijuana products at the facilities, just so people can then get on rural roads to drive home?

You might also be asking yourself, why is Kim writing about this in her Real Estate Round-Up column? If Fallbrook is not able to make recommendations on how we would like this implemented in Fallbrook, it will have an impact on real estate.

If you’re a landowner, then you might be excited about what this can potentially do to the value of your vacant land. If you own a home adjacent to a large piece of land that potentially will be converted to cannabis, you might be concerned over the negative effect on your home's value.

If you’re a business owner with a storefront in an industrial area or commercial zone, you might be concerned over how the presence of a cannabis operation and the clients it attracts will impact your business. There are many other aspects of this change that will impact real estate values.

The marijuana policy overhaul will be developed over the next six months and we have been promised that it will include community input prior to final approval.

Stay informed, stay involved, have a voice in protecting Fallbrook and your real estate’s value.

Kim Murphy can be reached at [email protected] or 760-415-9292 or at 130 N Main Avenue, in Fallbrook. Her broker license is #01229921, and she is on the board of directors for the California Association of Realtors.


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