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Cannabis Compromise in Clearlake

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CLEARLAKE -- Following a bit of compromise Tuesday, Clearlake City Council, minus Councilmember Judy Thein, made decisions that advance its process to develop guidelines for the regulation of medical marijuana dispensaries in the city.

Directions were taken by staff and Ordinance No. 150-2011 will be reintroduced at the May 26 regular meeting.

Those speaking from the audience as well as members of the council expressed overall satisfaction with staff's efforts and end results pertaining to the draft of the ordinance.

"What you have here is a rational ordinance; it's a compromise," Ed Robey, who has been working with county and city staff along with Attorney Ron Green, throughout the past several years in developing regulatory ordinances, said. He also indicated in his opinion that the document is legally sound, which had been a concern shared by Robey and Green in the past. He said the city's ordinance is better than that currently being proposed at the county level.

Members of the council were in agreement in striking a requirement that all dispensary bathrooms must remain locked; and, following discussion and public testimony, that employees can smoke their medicine in designated areas while working. Medical marijuana patient Valerie Adase requested the council reconsider prohibiting employees from smoking medical marijuana on the premises. She said many patients can't use edibles for their conditions, as suggested by Mayor Joyce Overton, who initially was against allowing employee use on site. "I ask that you reconsider allowing the workers to use their medicine like they need to, to get through a day's work," she said.

The primary areas that required compromise by the council included those addressing location and number of dispensaries that will be allowed to operate in the city. While Councilwoman Jeri Spittler and Vice Mayor Joey Luiz supported increasing the number of dispensaries in the city, which, as proposed, allowed for the three currently operating, Overton and Councilman Curt Giambruno took opposing stances. "I think three is fine. That is one area we do not need growth," Giambruno said.

Interim City Administrator Steve Albright justified three dispensaries by way of one dispensary per every 5,000 residents. He said when population rises the council could bring the item back for consideration in increasing the amount of dispensaries according to area demands.

Spittler said she thinks three is minimal for a city the size of Clearlake and that the number should at least be doubled to six. Luiz said if the council isn't taking issue with the number of pharmacies in the city it should not be taking issues with the number of dispensaries allowed to operate. Overton indicated that she thinks the two are incomparable because the state regulates pharmacies.

Luiz took a firm stance on increasing the number of dispensaries, particularly in relation to the future actions of the county. "I think the number needs to be up," he said. "We still don't know what the county is going to with their ordinance. Not all of the patients are going to be from the City of Clearlake."

The council was in agreement that the proposed C4 zoning requirement, which is commercial/industrial, is not appropriate for patients, citing concerns for making patients enter areas zoned for hazardous materials operations. However, Overton was adamant in prohibiting dispensaries from establishing on Lakeshore Drive. While Luiz and Spittler expressed no opposition to Lakeshore Drive dispensary locations, agreement was reached in that Overton would support increasing the number of dispensaries to four if Luiz would concede to prohibit dispensaries on Lakeshore Drive.

The idea of prohibiting dispensaries on Lakeshore Drive drew concern for a lack of viable, alternate locations in the city. Ultimately, the council decided to explore options for establishing design district zoning to prohibit dispensaries from establishing in designated areas on Lakeshore Drive. City Attorney Mala Subramanian requested that the council allow her the opportunity to research and compose findings to support any such actions by the council prior to any final decision; therefore, the ordinance will be reintroduced and another public hearing conducted on May 26.

The draft ordinance is available for public review at Clearlake City Hall during regular business hours.

News Hawk- Jacob Ebel 420 MAGAZINE
Source: record-bee.com
Author: Denise Rockenstein
Contact: Contact Us
Copyright: Lake County Record-Bee
Website: Cannabis compromise in Clearlake
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