Pleasanton extends pot moratorium

July 18, 2006

Malaika Fraley, Contra Costa Times

The City Council on Tuesday stopped short of banning medical marijuana dispensaries in Pleasanton, and sought more information on the impact dispensaries have had in other communities.

"I kind of feel like the people of California voted to make medical marijuana available, and if every city and county copped out and adopted a moratorium, where does that leave the people who need it?" Vice Mayor Matt Sullivan said.

Pleasanton and dozens of other cities enacted moratoriums on the establishment of marijuana dispensaries last summer, after the Supreme Court ruled that federal law supersedes state law regarding illegal controlled substances such as marijuana.

The Pleasanton City Council voted Tuesday to extend its moratorium, which was set to expire Aug. 5, by 12 months. The extra time will allow city staff to craft an ordinance to prohibit dispensaries in Pleasanton, which could be adopted if the city determines the burden of dispensaries outweighs the benefits.

State voters passed the Compassionate Use Act, or Proposition 215, in 1996 and made medical marijuana legal for patients with a doctor's recommendation. The state legislature established parameters for medical marijuana use and an ID card program in 2003.

Councilman Steve Brozosky was the only council member to vote against a motion to study the issue further before deciding to ban dispensaries, arguing that it was a waste of city staff time because a ban is likely. He and other council members expressed distaste for the federal government for not providing regulations for marijuana despite its proven medical benefits.

"It's sort of ridiculous that we have to be dealing with a medical issue at this level," Brozosky said.

Because of the conflict between state and federal law, some cities and counties, including Concord and Dublin, have banned medical marijuana dispensaries in their jurisdictions.

Bay Area cities and counties that have adopted regulatory ordinances allowing dispensaries include Oakland, Berkeley, Hayward, Martinez, Santa Rosa, San Jose, Santa Cruz, San Francisco and Alameda County. Alameda County will begin accepting applications for an ID card program next month.

Pleasanton council members say they are wary of crime such as armed robberies and drug abuse that have resulted in communities where the so-called pot clubs have been permitted. Police Chief Tim Neil said there have been numerous instances of Pleasanton students who have been caught with medical marijuana illegally purchased from a qualified user. In some cases, 18-year-olds here have been able to obtain ID cards on the false pretense of a medical condition, he said.


Malaika Fraley covers Pleasanton. Reach her at 925-847-2125 or mfraley@cctimes.com.


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