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Sacramento Supervisors Delay Vote on New Medical Pot Rules

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Outside county offices Tuesday, advocates for medical marijuana waved signs proclaiming, "Honk if you love cannabis," and protested closing dispensaries and banning outdoor pot cultivation.

Indoors, in an emotionally charged hearing before the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors, cerebral palsy patient Jesse Wilson, 28, grasped a microphone with shaking hands. From his wheelchair, he told how marijuana eases his anxiety and searing pain, adding: "Without it, I'd be crying more."

After hours of testimony, supervisors decided Tuesday they needed to know more about medical marijuana and what steps they should take to regulate — and rein in — a burgeoning marijuana industry in the unincorporated region of the county.

Advocates for medicinal marijuana users hailed the supervisors' 5-0 vote to hold off on a controversial "emergency ordinance" that would have set strict rules for cultivating and dispensing pot in the county. The supervisors voted to consider a potentially revised plan on July 27.

Medical marijuana advocates said the current plan would force people to go to remote districts to get their marijuana and shutter nearly every existing dispensary in the county. They urged supervisors to adopt an approach similar to the city of Sacramento — which allowed 32 of 38 dispensaries to remain where they originally opened.

"I'm not convinced that just because somebody opened up they should get a pass," responded Supervisor Don Nottoli.

The board also heard angry protests from medical cannabis users who said proposals to ban pot brownies and other marijuana edibles would harm severely ill people, for whom it is unhealthy to smoke.

Billie Minso, 40, who has multiple sclerosis and pain from nerve damage, told supervisors: "All I need is my cookies. Don't take my cookies away."

Yet a handful of residents and business people, county staff and even some marijuana advocates said supervisors need to do something about pot dispensaries sprouting like weeds in the county.

County officials have been trying to control the spread of marijuana dispensaries — which are not permitted in unincorporated areas — since the spring of 2010. By January, at least 27 marijuana stores were in operation despite orders to close, but 13 others had gone out of business.

Interim county planning director Leighann Moffitt told supervisors Tuesday that as many as 50 dispensaries are now operating in the county without permission.

George Mull, an attorney for the California Cannabis Association, said the number is closer to 70. But Mull said the county dispensary plan — which would restrict marijuana stores to limited industrial and commercial locations — amounted to an illegal ban. He said his organization would sue the county if it approved the plan.

Melinda Eppler, executive director of the Fulton Avenue Association, expressed frustration over three dispensaries operating "illegally" in the business district. She urged supervisors to adopt rules to prohibit a glut of marijuana stores in some areas.

"If you end up with concentration you will end up with problems," Eppler said. "While medical marijuana is legal, it's still a drug and it alters behavior. The fact is customers come to get their medicine, they walk out their door and they light up in the parking lot."

Karla Alsgood, a registered nurse who said she supports medical marijuana, told board members she was unhappy when an unsanctioned, unannounced dispensary opened up in Rio Linda.

"They took away my rights — my rights as a community member," said Alsgood, a member of a Rio Linda community advisory board.

Ryan Landers, a veteran medical marijuana activist who has HIV, said his rights are threatened by a plan that would ban his outdoor pot garden and set a limit of 12 mature pot plants grown indoors. Some speakers say indoor pot growing, requiring lighting and extensive wiring, is costly and unsafe.

"I couldn't afford the electric bill," Landers said.


News Hawk- Jacob Ebel 420 MAGAZINE
Source: sacbee.com
Author: Peter Hecht
Contact: Contact Us
Copyright: The Sacramento Bee
Website: Sacramento supervisors delay vote on new medical pot rules
 
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