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City Mulls Ban On Medical Marijuana Dispensaries


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First tattoos, now medical marijuana dispensaries.

At 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 23, the Watsonville City Council will hold a public hearing to consider an ordinance that would prohibit medical marijuana dispensaries in the city.

Sources say the proposed ordinance is an outgrowth of recent meetings about tattoo parlors, a type of business that the city planning commission reluctantly allowed within limited parts of Watsonville. Critics say the tattoo parlor or "body art" ordinance amounted to a de facto ban because of the restricted areas designated. Now, the planning commission is looking at an outright ban on shops that dispense medical marijuana.

"I think we were expecting that would come down the line with body art shops," said planning commission member Rhea DeHart. "Santa Cruz city has been so open to it; I think it may be different here in Watsonville."

Zach Friend, Santa Cruz Police Department spokesman, said the two medical marijuana dispensaries in that city have led to increased calls to police but not a "significant burden."

"We have had increased calls for service since those two have gone in, but a lot of those calls were from the dispensaries," he said. "Both dispensaries have done a pretty good job of self-policing. We've definitely seen increased calls because there's been increased traffic in that area, but on the whole they haven't created a significant burden for our department."

"It hasn't been that prolific here in Watsonville," said Watsonville Police Deputy Chief Kim Austin.

"We haven't really had that much of a problem. We've had a couple of people show us a card while in possession," she said.

Some cities have banned medical marijuana dispensaries or placed moratoriums on these businesses, said Santa Cruz County Sheriff Steve Robbins.

There's no county ordinance pertaining to dispensaries, although more generally the county code mirrors the state's regulations allowing use of medical marijuana.

"This really is a land-use regulation rather than a law enforcement issue, although they're interrelated," Robbins said.

Crime can increase due to the incidental value of the product, Robbins said.

"Some dispensaries have actually been robbed in other areas. There are actual commercial burglaries. They are a business with a valuable product, like a jewelry store or a pharmacy," he said.

On Oct. 25, 2006, the Santa Cruz City Council passed an ordinance adding a chapter to the municipal code titled, "Medical Marijuana – Office of Compassionate Use," establishing an office that provides medical marijuana to qualified patients. That addition to the ordinance passed 4-2.

Thirteen states have therapeutic research program laws that allow patients to use medical marijuana through state-run therapeutic research programs, according to the city of Santa Cruz. Since 1996, 11 states including California have enacted legislation specifically permitting the medical use of marijuana when recommended by a doctor, the city reported. In 1996, the voters of California recognized the right of patients to obtain and use marijuana for medical purposes. In 2003, the California legislature enacted the Medical Marijuana Program.

In Watsonville, during a City Council debate of a new ban on cigarette smoking in city parks, several speakers commented on the irony that the public might be able to smoke marijuana – but not cigarettes – under state and local regulations.

News Moderator: CoZmO - 420 MAGAZINE ® - Medical Marijuana Publication & Social Networking
Source: Register Pajaronian (Watsonville, CA)
Author: David Carkhuff
Contact: newsroom@register-pajaronian.com
Copyright: 2007 News Media Corporation
Website: Register-Pajaronian Online


New Member
if they ban med MJ dispensaries are they going to ban rite-aid and CVS pharmacies because banning one and not the other seems to violate due process and equal protection
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