Roseville set to ban pot shops

July 13, 2005

Jennifer K. Morita, Sacramento Bee

Pot shops soon will be prohibited from operating anywhere in the city of Roseville, under a new ordinance that some medical marijuana advocates say violates state law.

The Roseville City Council last week unanimously approved the first reading of a new law permanently banning medical marijuana dispensaries.

Other California communities, including nearby Rocklin and Lincoln, have similar bans.

'Other cities around here have done it, and I think people in Placer County, which is a conservative community, don't want (marijuana dispensaries),' Roseville City Councilman F.C.

'Rocky' Rockholm said. 'That's what the constituents are telling me.'

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Leaders with Oakland-based Americans for Safe Access, however, claim such ordinances conflict with state law, because they restrict safe and legal access to medical marijuana.

'If you cut off the means to allow collectives and cooperatives from establishing, by extension you're cutting off patients' safe access to medicine,' Kris Hermes, legal campaign director for the organization, said this week.

Americans for Safe Access recently filed a lawsuit against the city of Fresno challenging its restrictions on medical marijuana dispensing collectives.

Hermes said the nationwide coalition is considering filing suits in other California cities with similar bans or restrictive laws, including Susanville and Roseville.

'We're considering our options,' Hermes said. 'There are other cities that are currently considering permanent bans, so there may be even more options with which to take legal action.'

Roseville City Attorney Mark Doane could not be reached for comment this week.

Mayor Gina Garbolino, however, said the council was taking its cue from last month's U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

In its decision, the court stated that federal authorities can prosecute medicinal pot users in states such as California - where it is legal to use marijuana for medical purposes - under federal charges.

'I feel we did what we had to do in light of the Supreme Court ruling,' Garbolino said. 'What comes what may, and we'll deal with it at that time.'

A week after the ruling was handed down, the Roseville council rescinded an ordinance that regulated dispensaries, allowing them to open in some parts of the city.

At the time, City Attorney Doane told council members that the court ruled the federal Controlled Substances Act applied to purely local use of home-grown marijuana.

'What we do know is anyone who is in possession of marijuana in California, for whatever reason in whatever amount, is still subject to prosecution by federal authorities,' he said.

In advising the council last month, Doane said an ordinance regulating dispensaries implicitly allows the use of marijuana.

Rockholm said the court ruling made it clear that marijuana dispensaries are against federal law.

'I don't want to see them in Roseville,' he said. 'I think if (Americans for Safe Access) really wants to help people, they need to work with the federal government to craft a way to dispense medical marijuana through pharmacies legally, so it can be controlled.'

A second reading of the ordinance is scheduled for Wednesday. If approved, it will go into effect 30 days later.



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