Laguna Hills’ Pot-Friendly Council Candidate

Jim Salzer, co-founder of a medical marijuana cooperative in Laguna Hills called BCC, has a new reason to be involved in local government.

He’s found a candidate for Laguna Hills City Council who is medical-marijuana-friendly, a rarity in Orange County.

Salzer said Randy Oakley approached him at a city council meeting and said, if elected, he would support medical marijuana businesses in the city.

Right now no council members support allowing the pot shops to continue operating in town, Salzer said. And he said he’s had to fire six employees because of the city’s order to close down the shops.

For Salzer, a candidate like Oakley offers some hope.

“He [Oakley] just believes cities are dealing unfairly with us and businesses like us — that we should be regulated instead of shut down,” Salzer said.

Oakley, a civil litigation attorney, said that closing down pot shops is outside the city’s purview.

“I don’t think any council is in the position to do this,” Oakley said. “I’m definitely for the cause — as far as I’m concerned, it’s the will of the people of California.”

He says there are economic benefits to allowing the pot shops to run, including opportunities to create jobs and generate sales tax. Oakley said he would like to see the stores operate under a permit process that would include a background check and an attached fee. The permit fee, he said, would be a “direct benefit” to the city.

“There are tons of economic benefits on top of just doing the right thing,” Oakley said.

Even if Oakley is elected, the reality is the city’s pot shop policies probably wouldn’t change with only one council member.

“Obviously we’ll need three more members to change anything,” Oakley said.