Council to look at marijuana ordinance

May 23, 2005

Tony Reed, Fort Bragg Advocate

Ukiah is not the only city concerned about the possible proliferation of medical marijuana dispensaries. The Fort Bragg City Council is considering an ordinance that would require medicinal marijuana dispensaries to get a permit and agree to certain operational restrictions. The ordinance would also define what constitutes a medical marijuana dispensary, add marijuana dispensaries as a conditional use in industrial zones, and define operational criteria for dispensaries.

The ordinance was to come before the council at its Monday meeting and will come back to the council, if approved, at the June 13 meeting for final adoption.

According to City Manager Andy Whiteman, the ordinance was drafted by looking at similar municipalities and their codes for regulating dispensaries. Language was then modified to suit the area.

'There isn't much in our ordinances that regulate the activities of clinics,' said Whiteman, noting that the city has had some inquiries about the development of clinics and dispensaries.

According to the draft ordinance, following the passage of Proposition 215 (the Compassionate Use Act of 1996), the state enacted SB240 in 2004, giving local governments the ability to adopt and enforce regulations.

'Nothing in the ordinance will allow persons to engage in conduct that endangers others or causes a public nuisance, allow for the use of marijuana for non-medical purposes, or allow any activity relating to the cultivation, transportation, distribution or consumption of marijuana that is otherwise illegal, it reads.

An introduction to the ordinance also read that during a Planning Commission medical marijuana dispensary use permit hearing on Nov. 12, 2003, some individuals raised concerns for public safety. Marijuana smoking, loitering, potential impacts on children, and negative impacts on nearby property values were some of the concerns raised at the time. A second hearing for a dispensary use permit in an industrial zone on March 24, 2004 raised no concerns from neighbors and some security concerns from commissioners.

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