RP Adopts 45-Day Ban on Pot Clubs

RP Adopts 45-Day Ban on Pot Clubs
Posted by CN Staff on April 27, 2005 at 13:45:31 PT
By Clark Mason, The Press Democrat
Source: Press Democrat
Calif. -- Medical marijuana dispensaries may have to wait a year or more to open for business in Rohnert Park. The City Council on Tuesday night adopted a temporary but immediate ban on the opening of any medical marijuana outlets until a comprehensive plan for regulating pot clubs can be devised. The urgency measure, adopted on a 4-0 vote, prohibits the opening of any cannabis clubs in the city for 45 days.
But city officials said it is likely the moratorium will be extended for another 10 months, because it could take a year to 18 months to come up with an ordinance regulating medical pot clubs."I hope it will be sooner rather than later," said Mayor Jake Mackenzie.Council members expressed support for a well-regulated means of dispensing medical pot, or what Councilman Armando Flores described as a "compassionate care center" that would avoid some of the problems encountered by clubs in San Francisco and other cities.Rohnert Park has no medical pot clubs. But recent publicity about problems surrounding a medical marijuana dispensary in Santa Rosa convinced the Rohnert Park council to consider an ordinance in case any come to town.In Santa Rosa, neighbors of one pot club complained about public smoking, heavy traffic and unruly conduct by customers.Some pot clinics in other cities have drawn complaints of illegal drug activity and sales, loitering and falsely obtained identification cards to qualify for medical marijuana. There also have been robberies of dispensaries and patrons.Doc Knapp, a spokesman for the Sonoma Alliance for Medical Marijuana, said most of the estimated 150 or more medical marijuana dispensaries in the state operate well, but a few are out of control.He supported the idea of a freeze on the opening of any clubs until the issue can be thoroughly studied. "We support the idea of taking time to really be deliberate and cautious," he told the council, adding that he wants any dispensary to be "an asset, not an embarrassment to this community."Among the issues the city is likely to take up are whether cannabis clubs should be restricted to commercial zones, away from churches and schools; whether background checks should be required of operators and employees; and whether to regulate hours, security features and other conditions.Since Rohnert Park council members first suggested the need for an ordinance two weeks ago, the planning department has received several inquiries about locating dispensaries in Rohnert Park.In 1996, California voters approved Proposition 215, which allows the use of medical marijuana for patients with a recommendation from their doctor.Medical marijuana advocates estimate there are 100,000 physician-approved patients in California and several thousand in Sonoma County.But the federal government bans the sale, possession and use of marijuana and the Drug Enforcement Agency has taken action against some clubs.The conflicting state and federal laws are one reason Rohnert Park city staff urged a freeze on any opening of pot clubs until they can fully explore the ramifications of an ordinance."Medical marijuana is legal under state law, but illegal under federal," said Rohnert Park Interim City Manager Steve Donley. "We don't want to be in violation of federal law. We want to make sure we're doing it legally. It's kind of this awkward area."City Councilwoman Amie Spradlin said she wants to "do what's right with possible patients and the community as well," but said "we definitely need to proceed cautiously."Note: City Council may extend moratorium by 10 months while it writes ordinance.Source: Press Democrat, The (CA)Author: Clark Mason, The Press DemocratPublished: Wednesday, April 27, 2005Copyright: 2005 The Press DemocratContact: letters pressdemo.comWebsite: Articles & Web Site:SAMM Cracks Down on Pot Clubs Clubs - Press Democrat Should Let Supreme Court Decide Issues on Medical Pot 
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