March 12, 2010

Sacramento to Limit Medical Marijuana Dispensaries?

March 12, 2010

Last night city politicians presented an ordinance that would cap the number of medical marijuana dispensaries at 12, as well as placing tighter restrictions on how they operate (see link). The city meeting was packed with medical marijuana advocates and dispensary owners, who stated that such a proposal is unfair, and that lawsuits would be sure to follow. One dispensary owner put it into perspective when he said, “This proposal would kill myself and other patients in similar situations,” complained Ryan Landers a Sacramento senior adviser for the Compassionate Coalition. “You’re going to close clubs where hundreds of patients get marijuana. This is a huge problem for the sick.”

Sacramento City Manager Gus Vina defended the ordinance, claiming that it is needed. “There are a handful of cities that are trying to do something. And we’re one of them,” Vina said. “We don’t want to wind up like Los Angeles,” said City Councilwoman Lauren Hammon. “We don’t want to rush to do this, but we want to be timely.” Robert Shantz, an attorney for ‘The Sacramento Alliance of Collectives,’ said the ordinance is ‘prohibition masquerading as authorization.’

The plan includes:

1. A Lottery to decide which shops would be allowed to stay in business. Wow, are you kidding me? Other cities have placed moratoriums on new dispensaries, essentially ‘grandfathering’ in old dispensaries. I think that would have been a more rational approach then a ’12 winners take all’ approach.

2. Requires dispensaries to maintain hired security. This is probably a good idea anyways.

3. Bans the hiring of workers with felony convictions. I think it should matter WHAT KIND of felony you have on your record. If the only felony you have on your record is marijuana related, then you shouldn’t be banned from working in the medical marijuana industry. After all, such a person would have EXPERIENCE!

4. Requires shops to label their medicine with a disclaimer, stating that the dispensary assumes “risk of injury or harm” from any marijuana sold. That’s fine, considering NO ONE gets harmed or injured from medicinal cannabis.

5. Restricts dispensaries to commercial and industrial zones. This is nothing new. Every business in my home state of Oregon is required to be in a commercial/industrial zoned part of town. This rule applies to almost every kind of business on the West Coast, so I don’t think it is unreasonable.

6. Bans clubs within 300 feet of neighborhoods or 500 feet of churches, parks, schools, youth facilities or substance abuse centers. This provision isn’t as bad as LA’s which says you cannot be across the street from, or next to, a residential area. However, it’s harsher than most ordinances that require a 1,000 foot buffer zone.

One dispensary owner, Sonny Kumar of ‘El Camino Wellness Center,’ feels that the rules will crush almost every dispensary in the City of Sacramento. “It would result in only three locations where clubs or dispensaries would be left in the total city,” Kumar said. The City Council is expected to work on the proposed ordinance through May, and if approved, the ordinance could take effect in June or July.


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