Marijuana Measure in a Dead Heat

Inside the ShowGrow dispensary on Gertrude Place in Santa Ana.
Inside the ShowGrow dispensary on Gertrude Place in Santa Ana.

Laguna Beach voters are evenly divided about a measure that would repeal a local ban on medicinal marijuana dispensaries on the November ballot, according to a voter poll obtained by the Indy.

Among 300 voters who consistently participate in elections, Measure KK is equally endorsed and rejected by 48 percent of those polled, respectively, while 4 percent are undecided, according to a poll by Probolsky Research, of Newport Beach, which specializes in public policy research.

The poll was compiled on Sept. 21 and has a margin of error of 5.8 percent.

When it comes to legalizing marijuana for recreational use by adults, however, 63.7 percent of the sample voters in Laguna Beach intend to support statewide measure Prop. 64 while 32 percent oppose it, the poll shows.

The poll was conducted on behalf of the campaign backing Measure KK, a resident-proposed initiative. A Sept. 29 campaign disclosure report shows the poll was funded by a $10,000 contribution by an unidentified Woodland Hills resident using the name Laguna Beach Joint Venture.

The poll also shows City Council incumbents Bob Whalen and Steve Dicterow leading challengers Verna Rollinger and Judie Mancuso by significant margins and predicts the success of Measure LL, which would raise the city’s hotel bed tax by 2 percent.

Houston Durand, 40, said he is a Three Arch Bay resident and the principal proponent of Measure KK. He said he moved to Laguna Beach with his parents in 1990 and attended Laguna Beach High School. He graduated from San Diego State and USC with business degrees in 2000 and 2004, respectively, the schools’ registrars confirmed.

“The reason that I support measure KK is because Laguna Beach has long neglected the needs of seriously ill people for too long. Making someone with an illness travel an hour and a half round trip or relying on strangers to come to their homes is not showing compassion nor is reflective of what the people of Laguna want for the community,” Durand said in an email.

He said his father, a Navy veteran who served in Vietnam, suffers from post traumatic stress disorder and would benefit from patronizing a local facility. “It upsets me that someone else would make a decision about his right to obtain his medicine,” Durand said.

This week, city officials identified five additional possible locations in the South Laguna village where a dispensary could be sited, based on the measure’s restrictions forbidding locations adjacent to homes or near schools. The announcement corrects an earlier citywide mailer, which included a city map showing potential dispensary locations in Laguna Canyon, downtown and along a portion of South Coast Highway.

“We missed some parcels,” said City Manager John Pietig, in explaining the clarification.

Durand interpreted the clarification differently and called it “fear-mongering.”

“KK was designed to limit the number of locations to two and highly regulate where they could be located. By suggesting otherwise, the city manager is opening up the city to lawsuits by outside interests, while also violating the election code for communication during a campaign,” Durand said.

Though Pietig doesn’t predict a population boom, he said the measure’s language is not strictly limiting, but specifies one license per 10,000 residents. He said the city attorney was consulted over the mailer’s compliance with election code. “Our role is to educate, not advocate,” he said.

Campaign related mass mailings at public expense are prohibited by state election code if they unambiguously urge a particular result with advocacy, using words such as vote, reject, approve and elect, says the Fair Political Practices Commission website.

City council members vowed to defeat the measure, which qualified for the ballot in April, saying it would increase traffic congestion and parking problems and burden police services. The council banned medical marijuana dispensaries in Laguna Beach in 2009.

An anti-KK opposition committee amassed a war chest of $29,000 to defeat the measure, disclosure reports show.

This story was revised with new information about a contributor to Measure KK on Oct. 24.

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  1. I feel like it is relevant to mention in this article that said ‘medicinal dispensaries’ will automatically convert to recreational dispensaries if/when prop 64 passes, making them open to everyone and anyone who would like to come into Laguna beach and buy marijuana. Additiinally these would be the ONLY two dispensaries in all of South Orange County… Servicing the needs of all marijuana smokers in every town in South OC.


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