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Scotts Valley Leaders Want Time to Study Medical Marijuana


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SCOTTS VALLEY -- City leaders are in no rush to make room for medical marijuana outlets in Scotts Valley.

The city plans to weigh the drug's capacity to relieve pain in people suffering chronic illness and the possible criminal elements surrounding abuse and sales of marijuana before Scotts Valley follows the lead set by Santa Cruz in opening storefronts that sell marijuana to anyone with a doctor's recommendation.

City officials were caught off guard without any rules or regulations for medical marijuana dispensaries when resident Scott Gates approached them with his business idea last year.

Rather than approve Gates' plan, city officials chose to take some time to study the issue and come up with parameters.

"This is a complex issue," Police Chief John Weiss said. "Will it be an attractive nuisance? Will the people who run it be armed and protected? We are in our infancy in studying all of this."

The City Council on Wednesday unanimously approved a temporary moratorium on the establishment of medical marijuana dispensaries so they can study dispensaries in other cities and review related court cases. They also want to determine which area of Scotts Valley might be appropriate for a dispensary and what kind of hours and security measures such a business should be required to keep.

The moratorium is in effect for 45 days, though it can be extended up to a year after a public hearing.

"I don't have fear in this other than the unknown. We just need to make sure we do it right," Councilman Dene Bustichi said. "This is science. It's not just people getting high anymore."

City leaders turned their attention to medical marijuana, which has been legal in California since 1996 when voters approved Proposition 215, after Gates, a self-described Silicon Valley tech executive, proposed starting a nonprofit dispensary called The Healing Clinic Cooperative.

Gates, 42, said he's been a card-carrying medical marijuana user for more than a year due to high blood pressure and a herniated disc.

He touted the medical marijuana clinic as a service for the community.

"Your focus should be your constituents who are suffering from chronic pain," Gates told the council. "There is a right way to properly regulate it, and there's the added benefit of tax dollars."

Councilman Randy Johnson said the possibility of increased tax revenue from a dispensary should not be a factor when evaluating whether medical marijuana businesses belong in Scotts Valley.

"The tax panacea, ... get that out of the equation," Johnson said. "Marijuana is a dangerous drug. It also provides pain relief. We need to learn more."

Santa Cruz, which has two dispensaries in the Harvey West business area, created a moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries last year to prevent others from popping up while the city studied how many are needed to serve the community.

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Source: Santa Cruz Sentinel
Contact: Home - Santa Cruz Sentinel
Copyright: 2008 - Santa Cruz Sentinel
Website:Scotts Valley leaders want time to study medical marijuana - Santa Cruz Sentinel
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