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Counsil Delays Decision On Marijuana Dispensaries

Jim Finnel

Fallen Cannabis Warrior & Ex News Moderator
The council debated whether to allow medical marijuana dispensaries in town after reviewing a city staff report which recommended barring them until state and federal governments resolved the disputed legislation--a conflict which could take several years to resolve.

City attorney Sonja Carvalho explained that the proposed ordinance would bar all types of businesses from operating in Claremont that did not conform to any state and/or federal law. After the disputed legislation between state and federal governments is resolved, the city could then readdress the issue and decide on an appropriate policy, she said.

“One of the main reasons that staff recommends this option is that there are a number of pending lawsuits throughout the state involving the state and federal conflict,” Ms. Carvalho said. “In addition, over the past several months … we have seen federal officers enforcing federal drug laws against city-approved dispensaries throughout the West Hollywood area.”

After a lengthy discussion, the council voted 4 to one rejecting the city’s proposed ordinance, with only Mayor Peter Yao voting in support. In the end, the council asked the city to come back with more information on different operating models for marijuana dispensaries and whether it is the role of the city or the state to come up with the proper regulations. The discussion will likely be brought back before the council in early July.

Although the final decision has been slightly delayed, it appears likely that the council will ultimately support the city’s push to bar dispensaries from operating in town, with 3 out of 5 council members clearly speaking out against them.

While insisting that he supports the use of marijuana for medical purposes, Mayor Yao offered several reasons why he believes dispensaries are not appropriate for Claremont. His main concern was that the city has no system in place to regulate how to properly dispense the drug, as pharmacists are not involved in the process. The lack of proper controls, he said, means that the drug can easily end up in the wrong hands.

“The bottom line is that I am not at all convinced that the present process does not offer casual users ready access to marijuana,” Mayor Yao said.

Councilmember Corey Calaycay believes that it was not the role of municipalities to come up with the regulations for dispensaries and said that he felt more comfortable either extending the city’s moratorium, which expires in September, or banning dispensaries until the state properly addresses the issue.

“We are basically asking our [city] staff to take on the role of enforcers of a marijuana policy, which is not really our role,” said Mr. Calaycay. “That’s what it comes down to more than anything. This is something that the state will need to address.”

Councilmember Sam Pedroza said that he would rather see “another city come up with a model program” for operating dispensaries rather than have Claremont take on the responsibility.

“There’s too many holes in the way it works - from the way its being prescribed to the way they are being operated,” Mr. Pedroza said.

The remaining two council members, Ellen Taylor and Linda Elderkin, were more skeptical of the city’s proposed ordinance and showed signs that they might be in favor of allowing dispensaries in Claremont when the issue is brought back before the council.

Ms. Taylor believes that the state needs to take the lead in coming up with more regulations for dispensaries, however she indicated support for them in Claremont if the city could come up with appropriate regulations.

“I believe that we did vote for medical marijuana being available, and that is the state law,” she said.

Ms. Elderkin said she did not feel comfortable with the limited information provided by city staff on the issue and wanted to explore further options before making a final decision.

“It is easier just to vote no. We won’t have this. It’s a big hassle for the community,” she said. “But is it the right thing to do? Or should we take on the hassle and set the conditions to control it appropriately so medical marijuana is available to people who genuinely need it?”



News Hawk- User 420 MAGAZINE ® - Medical Marijuana Publication & Social Networking
Source: Claremont Courier
Author: Tony Krickl
Contact: Welcome to the Claremont COURIER Online Edition
Copyright: 2007 Claremont Courier
Website: COUNCIL DELAYS DECISION ON MEDICAL MARIJUANA DISPENSARIES
 
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