Cannabis advocate follows up on council

February 08, 2006

Tom Lochner, Contra Costa Times

Buzz Fowler got a cool reception at Pinole City Hall on Tuesday night. Before the medical marijuana advocate got the chance to talk to the City Council, police confronted him in the lobby.

Someone had complained that Fowler, who was wearing a jacket with a marijuana leaf on the back, was smoking a joint outside City Hall, said Cmdr. Pete Janke.

The complaint did not check out.

Fowler was there to ask the council about its progress since May when it enacted a one-year moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries -- cannabis clubs in popular parlance. As part of the moratorium, the council was supposed to create a task force to propose rules on location, hours and other logistics of cannabis clubs.

"The one year is not over," Mayor Betty Boyle told Fowler, then added, "We'll look into it."

Officials conceded they had been lax in following up since May.

Assistant city manager Jim Schutz said he had delegated the matter to a subordinate and promised to follow up.

Councilman David Cole, who was the mayor last year and had recommended that the task force include a doctor and a patient, said he did not speak up Tuesday in deference to Boyle. After the meeting, he said he would call Fowler, who has volunteered to be on a task force. Fowler also suggested law enforcement officers be on the task force.

Several high school students who attended Tuesday's meeting as part of a civics lesson said the way the council treated Fowler was no shining example of democracy.

"Honestly, I felt the City Council was rather wanting to push him aside, not wanting to hear from him," said Randall Huber, 17. "They did not seem to have an open mind."

Another student likened the council's response to "Thank you, now go away."

Some of the youths also said they had seen police confront Fowler earlier.

After the meeting, Boyle agreed the council could have treated Fowler better. She explained she had been "taken by surprise" and that she could not discuss the marijuana matter because it was not on the agenda.

Fowler, whose doctor prescribed him marijuana for pain from a severe head injury, a skin disease and a painful bone condition, runs MEDelivery, a medical marijuana delivery service.

"I never smoke weed," Fowler told Janke. "I vaporize it." On Wednesday, Fowler said, "It would be my honor to give the police department and the council a demonstration at their earliest convenience."

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