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Time and Money Will Help Napa Write Pot Rules


Nug of the Month: Aug 2008
City staff wants nine months and $45,000 to write an ordinance allowing medical marijuana dispensaries within the Napa city limits.

Pot clinics would be banned until city staff studied the experiences of other cities and proposed regulations for the controlled distribution of marijuana as allowed by state law.

The City Council voted unanimously Aug. 18 to begin the process of allowing cannabis clinics after hearing impassioned testimony from more than two dozen people about the medical benefits.

On Tuesday night, staff will ask the council to ban medical marijuana dispensaries for nine months so comprehensive regulations can be written to tightly control these clinics.

To justify the nine-month ban, the staff cites problems from pot clinics reported in other cities. They have included robbery, diversion of marijuana for non-medical uses and increased incidence of driving under the influence.

City staff wants to hire legal and planning consultants familiar with pot ordinances in other cities and counties to craft Napa's rules.

If things go well, the city could have an ordinance ready for consideration even before the moratorium lifts. Assistant City Manager Dana Smith and City Attorney Michael Barrett outlined a timetable including public hearings on Dec. 1 and Jan. 26 when residents could comment on staff's proposals, then another public hearing in front of the council on March 16.

While no residents spoke against medical marijuana clinics two weeks ago, city officials said they are certain that many residents have dissenting views.

During the council hearing, Councilman Mark van Gorder said he had obtained anxiety relief from marijuana when he was diagnosed with a life-threatening cancer some years ago.

Councilman Peter Mott recounted the experience of an acquaintance with cancer. This convinced him that controlled distribution had merit, he said.

The $45,000, most of which would go to legal and planning specialists, would come from the city's General Services Administration Contingency, leaving $355,000 for other purposes.

City staff notes possible unanticipated costs if workers put aside projects capable of generating revenue for the city in order to make the marijuana ordinance a top priority.

Napa Police Chief Rich Melton recommended two weeks ago that the city ban marijuana clinics for two years until the state developed greater controls on how clinics are run.

Although state voters passed an initiative in 1996 permitting medical marijuana in certain situations and the Legislature subsequently applied more controls, loopholes allow marijuana to be diverted for general use, police said.

The council rejected Melton's advice, saying there would be a community benefit if marijuana were available locally to those with doctor-approved medical needs.

News Hawk- Ganjarden 420 MAGAZINE ® - Medical Marijuana Publication & Social Networking
Source: Napa Valley Register
Contact: Napa Valley Register
Copyright: 2009 Napa Valley Publishing
Website: Time and Money Will Help Napa Write Pot Rules
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