About 45 people packed the Dunsmuir City Council chambers for a public hearing Thursday night on whether the Siskiyou County town should adopt medical marijuana cultivation regulations.
The hearing was sparked in part by Mayor Peter Arth’s proposal to build three greenhouses to grow medical cannabis across from the Siskiyou County sheriff’s substation in downtown Dunsmuir. Arth plans to lease three plots he owns to Leslie Wilde, who runs a medical cannabis dispensary a few blocks away.
Wilde says the greenhouse operation would provide a safe supply of organic marijuana for her members, who number about 50 “regulars.” Arth, who’s a medical marijuana user himself, promotes the greenhouse project as a much better alternative to “black market” supplies of the drug, whether grown in Mexico or the hills of Siskiyou County, often with the use of toxic pesticides.
After a 90-minute, heated discussion, the council voted 3-1 to form a subcommittee to look into the issue of how marijuana cultivation should be regulated in the town. Arth’s was the only “no” vote. He said the town doesn’t need such an ordinance.
“Of all the issues competing for the council’s attention, I’d say this one is at the bottom of the barrel,” he said later. “It wouldn’t have even come up if we hadn’t made our proposal.”
The other council members disagreed.
“This issue is divisive. The town is split on this,” said Councilwoman Helen Cartwright, who suggested during the meeting the issue be tabled until November, when the state’s voters will decide whether to legalize marijuana.
Councilwoman Cherie Du Pertuis concurred that the city should take its time. “This all needs to be carefully considered. There’s no need for haste on this matter.”
Councilman Mario Rubino said he was concerned that if quick action wasn’t taken to establish cultivation guidelines, medical marijuana cultivation could expand and be unregulated.
But Thursday’s action is unlikely to affect Arth’s proposal, city attorney John Kenny said Friday. “There was no ordinance regarding cultivation before” the meeting or after, he said.
Before the meeting, Dunsmuir city staff moved Arth’s proposal to the Planning Commission, scheduled to consider it May 5, Kenny said. The public hearing was on whether to pursue a cultivation ordinance, not on Arth’s specific proposal.
About 20 people spoke at Thursday’s meeting, some staunchly opposed to allowing medical cannabis cultivation and others who support it. Two speakers called for the mayor’s resignation.
Among those opposed was Phyllis Wood.
“This town is starting to get back on its feet after a long time (being viewed as) a ‘drug town,’” she said. “This (project) is taking a wrong turn.”
A number of residents said they worried about placing a marijuana-growing operation in the town’s historic district, adjacent to its main street, where many of the town’s teenagers hang out after school and on weekends.
Mary Ann Kikerpill, who depends on medical marijuana to relieve some of the pain from Stage 4 breast cancer, called the greenhouse project a “controlled and secure” alternative to the prospect of marijuana patches sprouting up all over Dunsmuir.
Jesse Tolen, who described himself as a decorated and wounded vet with combat-induced kidney stones and lung disease, also spoke in favor of the project.
“We need to give it a chance,” he said.
A number of opponents of the mayor’s project said they support the use of medical marijuana, but emphasized their concern over the project’s location and its impact on the town’s image.
John Villani of the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Department raised the possibility of renegotiating the sheriff’s contract with the city if the project goes forward.
In an interview after the meeting, he said he worried about attempted burglaries of the facility and the possibility of illegal growers targeting the facility as a competitor, with deputies having to deal with “whoever gets caught in the crossfire.”
“This issue is divisive. The town is split on this.”
NewsHawk: Ganjarden: http://www.420magazine.com/
Source: Redding Record Searchlight
Author: Tim Holt
Contact: Redding Record Searchlight
Copyright: 2010 Redding Record Searchlight
Website: Dunsmuir to look into medical pot cultivation