Sutter revisiting pot clubs

November 14, 2005

Rob Young, Appeal-Democrat (CA)

The Sutter County Planning Commission on Wednesday will revisit Sheriff Jim Denney's proposal to modify the zoning code to prohibit medical marijuana dispensaries.

The 7 p.m. meeting will be at the Hall of Records, 466 Second St., Yuba City. The commission's recommendation will go to the Board of Supervisors.

The proposal was tabled at the commission's October meeting at the request of commission member Gabrial Singh, who said Monday he favors allowing well-regulated dispensaries in Sutter County.

The Board of Supervisors voted Feb. 15 to ban dispensaries. Denney's proposal would formalize the ban.

Denney said Monday he wants to strike a balance between state law, which allows possession of medical marijuana, and federal law.

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the manufacture, distribution, dispensing and even possession of marijuana is illegal. About a week later, the House of Representatives failed to pass legislation that would have blocked the Justice Department from cracking down on California and nine other states where medical marijuana is legal, Denney wrote in a memo to county Senior Planner Lisa Wilson.

Denney said he favors the right of patients with licenses to grow small amounts of medical marijuana for their own use as authorized by two state laws. Proposition 215 and Senate Bill 420. But neither law allows dispensaries, he said.

Federal agents could raid Sutter County dispensaries if they are allowed, he said.

Dispensaries in other California cities and counties have been plagued by robberies, illegal drug use and other problems and have been raided, he said.

As a county official, Denney should act according to state law, not federal law, said Singh.

Singh did not deny that dispensaries have had problems, especially those in Oakland. But Sutter County's could have strict guidelines, he said.

“I'm not advocating marijuana for everyone who wants to get high,” he said.

Yuba City and Live Oak have passed ordinances prohibiting dispensaries.

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