Dublin latest city to say no to medical pot dispensaries

June 05, 2006

Sophia Kazmi, ANG Newspapers

The Dublin City Council voted Tuesday night to ban all medical marijuana dispensaries from operating in the city.

The unanimous 5-0 vote came as no surprise. In May, the council unanimously agreed to have the city staff draw up the ordinance to ban them from Dublin.

The ordinance defines a medical marijuana dispensary as any location where medical marijuana is available to two or more patients, a person carrying a medical marijuana ID card or a primary caregiver.

The ordinance will not affect clinics, health care facilities, or residential care facilities for persons with chronic or life-threatening illnesses. Residential care facilities for the elderly or hospices whose patients are in need of the drug will also be unaffected.

Council members said those who need medical marijuana should have access to it, but because it is still considered an illegal substance and because of crimes that have occurred at or near dispensaries, they believed it was not necessary to put residents' quality of life at risk to provide a service that already exists elsewhere in the county.

"There are facilities available for those who need it," Councilwoman Claudia McCormick said.

Some existing medical marijuana dispensaries in unincorporated Alameda County are within a 20-minute drive of Dublin.

Crime statistics, regulation issues and conflicting state and federal laws also were a factor in the council's decision to enact a ban. All marijuana is illegal under federal law, whereas medical marijuana, when approved by a physician, is legal in California.

Glenn White, the only resident to speak against the ban Tuesday night, said the city should not fear the federal government's stand on medical marijuana. He cited the 9th and 10th Amendments of the Constitution, which require that authority not specifically assigned to the federal government or denied to the people under the Constitution be reserved for the states.

He said there is nothing in the Constitution that addresses medical marijuana, so the state's law permitting its use should stand.

"The federal government does not have the right to regulate medical marijuana," he said, saying that unless there is some interstate commerce involved there is no need for the federal government to be involved in the state's business.

Dublin will be the first Tri-Valley city to ban such dispensaries and it will be the 20th city in California to do so. Some cities, including Concord, have been sued by Americans for Safe Access, whose members say it is in violation of state law to ban the dispensaries. The suit against Concord, however, was dropped.

The process to ban pot dispensaries in Dublin began in August when the council voted on a moratorium prohibiting their creation and operation in the city. At the time, the city had received an inquiry about the possibility of opening such a facility within city limits. In September, the council voted to extend the moratorium an additional 10 months and 15 days to give the city more time to research its options.

Sophia Kazmi covers Dublin and Castro Valley. Reach her at 925-847-2122 or skazmi@cctimes.com.

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