Council takes no action on marijuana dispensary
April 05, 2006
Charles Levin, Ventura County Star
Oxnard's City Council backed away from allowing medical marijuana dispensaries, concerned that conflicts between state and federal laws could hurt the city and threaten grants to the Police Department.
Council members were not required to vote on the matter Tuesday. By taking no action, however, they let stand a yearlong moratorium on allowing dispensaries to operate within city limits.
The panel agreed to monitor the legal riddle over such dispensaries and review the issue when the moratorium expires in November.
California voters in 1996 approved Proposition 215, which allows the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes with a physician's consent. In June, however, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that federal prohibitions on marijuana can still be enforced despite state laws.
The city agreed to explore the idea last year after a Simi Valley man, who with a physician's consent uses marijuana for back pain, asked about opening a dispensary.
William Vondrasek, a recording studio engineer, has two herniated disks from injuries suffered in a car accident.
On Tuesday, city staff members suggested it was possible to open a dispensary under state law by imposing strict regulations on location and operation.
Mayor Tom Holden and Councilmen Tim Flynn and Dean Maulhardt appeared sympathetic to the idea, citing reported medical benefits to patients, but worried that it could bring on an unwanted and costly legal tangle from federal authorities.
Councilman John Zaragoza agreed, adding that he was concerned that opening a dispensary might jeopardize about $500,000 in federal Department of Justice grants to the city's police.
Contacted Wednesday, Vondrasek said he was neither surprised nor disappointed.
"I think they have to go with what's best for the community," he said, adding that he's still using marijuana for his back pain. "I see trouble trying to get involved in this movement. Maybe it's not for everybody."