Medical pot gets harder to find

May 04, 2006

Rebecca Johnson ,

Medical marijuana users will have to look outside the city of Dublin to find a dispensary.

Following the lead of 19 other cities in California, including Concord, the Dublin City Council unanimously directed its staff to draft an ordinance banning dispensaries from operating within city limits.

The ordinance, which is expected to be brought back for council approval in June, will follow a moratorium the city placed on dispensaries last August and renewed in September.

Although the City Council had the option of extending the moratorium for an additional year when it expires in August, Dublin Mayor Janet Lockhart said she did not want to prolong the decision.

Im not interested in continuing the moratorium because it just begs the issue. Were not resolving anything. Were not moving forward in any way, she said.

Medical marijuana dispensaries operate in East Bay cities such as Berkeley, Hayward, Castro Valley, Oakland and Martinez. Several council members said given the proximity to other cities, Dublin residents can travel elsewhere to obtain marijuana.

I think theres adequate opportunity for those that are suffering to get relief, Council-

woman Claudia McCormick said.

Vice Mayor Tony Oravetz and Councilwoman Kasie Hildenbrand said they were struggling with the idea that state and federal laws do not gel with regard to medical marijuana.

Although California voters passed the Compassionate Use Act of 1996 to allow cultivation of medical marijuana and the state senate subsequently imposed regulations, federal law still prohibits use of the drug.

Im just not willing to put our city in the position of having a dispensary until we can have federal and state laws match up or until marijuana is not considered an illegal substance, Hildenbrand said. Its a quality of life issue for everyone — the people who need medical marijuana and the people who live here.

Although some members of the public spoke at the meeting when the moratorium was adopted, no one addressed the council at a hearing Tuesday night.

Many cities in Alameda and Contra Costa counties have adopted similar moratoriums in the past year but have yet to vote on any final decision.

Concords action resulted in a lawsuit filed by the Americans for Safe Access, a medical marijuana patient advocacy group based in Oakland. The suit has since been dropped. Dublin leaders acknowledged their decision could make them vulnerable to future litigation, as well.

Rebecca Johnson can be reached at (925) 416-4882 or

rjohnson@trivalleyherald.com.



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