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Marijuana Ordinance Repealed

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CHICO, CA – The Chico vice mayor switched sides on the medical marijuana debate at the push of a "bully," voting with the majority of council Tuesday night to repeal the dispensary ordinance.

"In a sense, we are being bullied," Vice Mayor Jim Walker said. "But we're being bullied by federal law."

Council members voted 4-3 to rescind the ordinance that would have allowed for two dispensaries despite the representatives' statements Tuesday in support of medical marijuana for seriously ill patients. Councilwoman Mary Flynn and Councilmen Andy Holcombe and Scott Gruendl voted against the repeal. Sixteen people addressed council on the issue, the majority were against the repeal.

City Manager Dave Burkland recommended council members repeal the medical marijuana dispensary ordinance in order to avoid the possibility of federal prosecution of city staff and council.

On July 5, the council voted 4-3 to adopt the ordinance permitting two medical marijuana dispensaries of up to 10,000 square-feet each to open in Chico after going through a public hearing and selection process. Mayor Ann Schwab, Councilmen Mark Sorensen and Bob Evans voted against the ordinance. The opposing council members had cited a July 1 letter from U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner for northeastern California that detailed how the ordinance violates federal law.

On July 14, city staff met with Wagner and learned that Chico employees and council members could face federal prosecution for facilitating dispensaries.

The council also voted as Burkland recommended to maintain the residential portion of the Chico ordinance, allowing indoor and outdoor grows with restrictions.

Burkland, Police Chief Mike Maloney and planning services director Mark Wolfe earnestly said they don't feel safe from prosecution if the dispensary ordinance remained when Evans asked.

"So we would all be carrying you with us," Evans said.

Sorensen said he thinks it is common sense to remove the city from the mess and repeal the ordinance. "We are waiving a big red cape at the bull," Sorensen said.

Holcombe listed a number of changes to the ordinance that he thinks would limit the commercial aspect, including that the dispensaries could not grow on site, but Sorensen did not accept his amendments.

"I think we can and we should stand up to the bully," Holcombe said.

He said he thinks the city took enough steps back. "We should not lose focus, this is about sick people and helping them," Holcombe said.

Flynn said she thinks it is possible to do the right thing by allowing patients access to medical marijuana.

"I've taken an oath saying I'm going to act in the best interest of my community," Flynn said. "I believe I can act in the best interest of our community and provide safe access."

Andrew Brown walked up to address the council using a cane and wearing a North Valley Holistic Health dispensary T-shirt. He said at one point, he couldn't move his legs but medical marijuana helped him through his pain and now he can walk.

He also told council he thinks dispensaries provide a safe place for patients to get their medicine. "I could not see myself in my condition walking down some alley to some guy who could hurt me and take my money and I could be left lying on the ground in pain," Brown said.

Dylan Tellesen of Citizen Collective said the council's task is to help people who need medicine.

"We can today do something profound," Tellesen said. "We can help the sick and downtrodden. We can fight against injustice. We can help citizens who have been stigmatized and discriminated against for nothing other than the particular medicine they need."

Greg Keeney of the Chico Police Officers' Association said though the issue is complicated, the ordinance allows illegal activity police cannot be a part of.

Jolene Francis of the Chico Chamber of Commerce told council she thinks the city doesn't have to fight the federal government and said the chamber supports the repeal.

City staff will monitor the state and federal governments' actions on the issue and update council within six months.

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News Hawk- Jacob Ebel 420 MAGAZINE
Source: chicoer.com
Author: Katy Sweeny
Contact: Contact Us
Copyright: Chico Enterprise-Record
Website: Marijuana ordinance repealed
 
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