Council Should Make Dope Ban Permanent

Why on April 26th did the Antioch City Council adopt only a temporary moratorium on the establishment and operation of medical marijuana collectives, cooperatives and dispensaries? Antioch already had an ordinance stating that any business operating within the jurisdiction of the city of Antioch must be in compliance with city, state and federal law. Possession, cultivation, use or distribution of marijuana is deemed illegal by the federal government.

City staff explained they want time to study the differences among medical marijuana collectives, cooperatives and dispensaries (hint to staff – if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck), whether there should be a limit on the number of permitted locations and whether they should only be permitted in certain zoning districts and if so, which zoning districts would be appropriate for such uses.

Background Information: In 1996 California voters approved Prop. 215 allowing persons to obtain and use marijuana for medical purposes under limited specified circumstances and not be subject to criminal prosecution. In 2003, the California Legislature adopted Senate Bill 420 which created a state approved voluntary medical marijuana ID card program. (Marijuana continues to be a prohibited Schedule 1 drug for which there is no currently accepted medical use.)

However, in 2009 a memo from the U.S. Dept of Justice indicated the Department’s intent not to use Federal resources on marijuana prosecution if an individual’s actions are “in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws providing for the medical use of marijuana”. This, of course, prompted an increase in marijuana dispensaries through the State.

Subsequently, some California cities that permitted the establishment of medical marijuana dispensaries experienced an increase in crimes which led to the California Police Chiefs’ Association in 2009 issuing a “White Paper” stating that many violent crimes in California, including armed robberies and murders, as well as illegal use and sale of marijuana by minors, can be traced back to the proliferation of marijuana dispensaries.

Dispensaries have also lead to loitering, vandalism, illegal electrical alterations, fires and criminal activities at or near dispensaries. San Jose had two arson fires at pot dispensaries – one this January and another in April. This past weekend the Capitola Healing Association, a pot cooperative was also deliberately burned.

By the end of 2009 at least 120 California cities and eight counties decided to ban dispensaries, and did so by enforcing licensing and zoning rules to keep them out of town.

Due to negative effects such facilities have on public, health, safety and welfare, I think the city, which has a diminished police staff and no code enforcement officers, should adopt a permanent BAN on the establishment and operation of medical marijuana collectives, cooperatives and dispensaries.

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