Cannabis Clubs Are on Pinole's Agenda

Cannabis Clubs Are on Pinole's Agenda
Posted by CN Staff on May 03, 2005 at 07:06:03 PT
By Tom Lochner and Alan Lopez
Source: Contra Costa Times
Calif. -- The Pinole City Council will consider tonight a yearlong moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries to give time to craft an ordinance to regulate them.The city's zoning ordinance does not address the location of the dispensaries, also known as cannabis clubs. The city has no rules requiring them to obtain a permit either as a new business or as an additional use within an existing business, nor are there any performance criteria.
State voters in 1996 passed Proposition 215, allowing people to possess and grow marijuana for medical use on a doctor's recommendation. The initiative, which many critics faulted as vague, also envisioned a distribution network to make the drug affordable and available to those in medical need.The proposed moratorium comes a few weeks after someone queried the city about locating a medical marijuana dispensary in Pinole, said city planner Elizabeth Dunn. The council will consider the moratorium as an urgency ordinance requiring four-fifths approval.Elsewhere in the East Bay, the Albany City Council was set to vote Monday night on a 45-day moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries in response to several inquiries about opening one there, said Dave Dowswell, Albany's planning manager.The moratorium in Albany will likely be extended beyond 45 days, giving time to the city to craft regulations governing the facilities, said city attorney Robert Zweben.A 10-month moratorium approved by the El Cerrito City Council expires July 19, said city attorney Janet Coleson. She said the council will need to decide whether to adopt an ordinance governing marijuana dispensaries or to extend the moratorium for another year."Most cities don't have regulations in place and don't know how to treat them," said Coleson about dispensaries. "And they're trying to figure out how to regulate them if at all. It's not an easy call because the law is just all over the place right now."A cannabis club in Pinole -- or El Cerrito -- would be the first in Contra Costa County, Pinole officials say, although neither city would be the first in the county to adopt a medical marijuana ordinance.Martinez passed one in 2000, but no cannabis club has opened, said Martinez Deputy City Clerk Mercy Cabral.Then-Vice Mayor Mark Ross called the ordinance "very tough and restrictive." It prohibits establishing a dispensary within 1,000 feet of a school or park or 300 feet from a residence. It also barred an employee or volunteer from leaving the premises with marijuana, effectively scuttling a proposal to deliver marijuana to critically ill people.Cities all over California are trying to devise ways to keep out cannabis clubs. One, Rocklin, banned them altogether last year, in part on the grounds that federal law prohibits them."Rocklin may be the test case," said Pinole City Attorney Benjamin T. Reyes II.Tom Lochner covers Pinole and Hercules. Source: Contra Costa Times (CA)Author: Tom Lochner and Alan LopezPublished: May 03, 2005Copyright: 2005 Knight RidderContact: letters cctimes.comWebsite: Medical Marijuana Archives
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