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Vallejo Confronts Pot Shop Issue

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Vallejo may soon begin taxing, regulating and limiting the number of medical marijuana dispensaries, now nearing two dozen.

A proliferation of unregulated medical marijuana dispensaries has gone mostly unchecked in recent years. City funding to continue legal prosecution, such as the still-ongoing injunction against the former Stan the Man dispensary, has all but disappeared, city attorneys told the City Council on Tuesday night.

Reacting to that news and stating concerns for ill patients seeking relief, a council majority voted to direct city attorneys, police and other officials to begin taking a more proactive hand in the medical marijuana issue.

To that end, the city will begin "enhanced enforcement" against local dispensaries not operating under the auspices of the state's Compassionate Use Act of 1996. Up to $35,000 may be used to hire a consultant to draft a permit process for medical marijuana cooperatives and collectives.

A ballot measure to impose an additional business license tax on medical marijuana dispensaries also will be drafted. That could cost the city as much as an unbudgeted $300,000 for election, project management and public education costs, a city staff report states.

Several dispensary directors and those stating familiarity with medical marijuana issues spoke in favor of the city's plans to tax and regulate the industry.

California Collective Care director Mike Tomada even offered the paid services of his attorney to help draft city regulations.

"If you were to ban marijuana, it would go underground. It's on the surface (now)," Tomada said. "I've been here a long time supporting the city of Vallejo -- I think you should support us."

Mayor Osby Davis voted against moves toward regulating and taxing dispensaries and for stronger enforcement of state laws. He said he was conflicted about his future support of the issue.

"It seems to me that we're kind of losing sight of the intent of the law, as we're talking about how much taxes we can generate for the city by regulating marijuana dispensaries or collectives or cooperatives," Davis said. "Profiting ... from the seriously ill, at least as I see it, was never the intent. But we seem to get hung up on the money from this and forget about what the (Compassionate Use) act was all about in the first place."

Councilman Hermie Sunga, who voted against all the proposed medical marijuana efforts, did so without comment Tuesday.

A recommendation to hire a polling firm to determine the impact of putting the business tax on the same ballot with a proposed sales tax increase lacked enough council support.

Council member suggestions for a moratorium on new dispensaries also did not gain traction.

News Hawk- Jacob Ebel 420 MAGAZINE
Source: timesheraldonline.com
Author: Jessica A. York
Contact: Contact Us
Copyright: Vallejo Times Herald
Website: Vallejo confronts pot shop issue
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