Riverbank to consider pot dispensary policy

January 25, 2006

Inga Miller, Modesto Bee

Worried that medical marijuana dispensaries will flock to Riverbank after being banned elsewhere, Mayor Chris Crifasi said the city should start looking at regulations.

"I don't want Riverbank getting hammered because all the other doors in the county are closed," Crifasi said.

That dispensaries could look to move after being banned in Modesto last month worries Stanislaus County police chiefs. Now that the Modesto City Council has acted on its ban, Police Chief Art Voortman said the time has come for Riverbank to move forward.

He said among the council's options are zoning land for marijuana dispensaries, should they one day be forced to allow them. The city of Ripon has such an ordinance.

In Modesto, the council approved a permanent ban in December. That move will force a McHenry Avenue dispensary, California Healthcare Collective, to close by July 14.

Turlock enacted a 45-day ban earlier this month while it mulls permanent options. The Los Banos Planning Commission also is considering a ban.

Crifasi endorsed plans for a February study session.

The topic dovetailed off discussion of a growing massage industry.

In the past six months, the city has received five applications for massage establishments and eight from massage practitioners — as opposed to one in the eight previous years, Voortman told the council.

He sought and received permission to craft an ordinance regulating the businesses that would allow background checks and inspections.

The Riverbank City Council scheduled the study session on medical marijuana and the draft massage ordinance for its Feb. 27 meeting. The council is scheduled to have a 6:30 p.m. study session and 7 p.m. meeting. It will be in the council chamber, 6707 Third St.

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