Cannabis club moratoriums OK'd

August 16, 2005

Chris Metinko and Sophia Kazmi, Contra Costa Times

Both Dublin and Pleasanton's city councils on Tuesday night unanimously approved 45-day moratoriums on medical marijuana dispensaries within their borders.

The moratorium will give the cities time to craft ordinances on how to deal with dispensary applications.

"It deserves that attention," said Dublin Mayor Janet Lockhart. "We don't want to push this under the rug and hopes it goes away, because it won't go away."

In Pleasanton, some council members said they wanted to make sure they fully study the issue before they make a decision.

"I'm very, very concerned about our community not having access to medical marijuana," said Pleasanton Mayor Jennifer Hosterman.

"I think it's unfortunate the federal government has put politicians into a position to make medical decisions," said Councilman Steve Brozosky. He also took time to comment on what he perceived as the city's one-sided staff reports on the issue, which he said did not consider some of the more positive medical uses for marijuana.

Only one resident spoke at Dublin's meeting. Glenn White said he was concerned the moratorium may lead to a ban on such operations.

"I think there is an attempt to demonize this," he said.

Dublin and Pleasanton have had inquiries about how to establish a dispensary in their cities, as have the Tri-Valley cities of Danville and Livermore. Tri-Valley police chiefs are urging all their cities to adopt such ordinances.

Many other local cities, and even Alameda County, have approved similar ordinances.

The battle over medical marijuana dispensaries recently popped back into the headlines as the U.S. Supreme Court issued an opinion that federal marijuana laws could be enforced, despite California's law allowing for personal medical use. In California, Proposition 215, the Compassionate Use Act of 1996, allows for a person to use marijuana for medical purposes if approved by a doctor.

Pleasant Hill, Richmond, Antioch, Oakley, Albany, El Cerrito, Hercules, Pinole, San Pablo, Emeryville and Alameda County approved similar moratoriums in the past year; Berkeley adopted a zoning ordinance to limit the number of dispensaries to the three already there. San Francisco approved a moratorium this year.

A 45-day moratorium can be extended twice. The first extension would give the city an additional 10 months and 15 days to study the issue, while the second extension grants another year for the moratorium. A four-fifths vote is needed to approve such a moratorium and any extensions.

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