Livermore extends moratorium on pot dispensaries

July 24, 2006

Meera Pal, Mercury News (CA)

The City Council has extended its moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries in Livermore -- due to expire Sept. 11 -- for another year.

The council on Monday night directed its staff to return Sept. 11 with a plan for investigating the issue before a permanent decision is made.

Council member Lorraine Dietrich asked the staff why nothing has been done since the first moratorium was adopted almost a year ago.

Councilman Tom Reitter said a year was too long to wait to clarify the issue.

"How can we make this type of facility work in Livermore?" Reitter said. "There are people who need this facility closer to their home."

The extension was opposed by Livermore business owner Michael Ferrucci, who has been an activist in efforts to make it legal for patients to grow and possess marijuana for medicinal use.

"There is no imminent danger or threat to the public," Ferrucci said.

When the council first adopted the moratorium in 2005, Ferrucci suggested addressing law enforcement concerns by locating a dispensary near a hospital or police station.

City staff members said they have been monitoring developments regarding medical marijuana dispensaries during the current moratorium,

The extension will allow the staff to study the legal, zoning, business and governmental issues, according to a report to the council from Livermore police Chief Steve Krull, city attorney John Pomidor and community development director Marc Roberts.

Last week, the Pleasanton City Council extended its own pot club moratorium but stopped short of banning medical marijuana dispensaries. The council asked for more information on the impact dispensaries have had in other communities.

Voter-approved state law allows for a person to use marijuana for medicinal purposes if recommended by a doctor. But federal law prohibits marijuana use for any purpose, including medical ones, resulting in conflicts between state and federal law.

Because of that state/federal conflict, some counties and some cities, 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 a medical marijuana ID card program next month.

Reach Meera Pal at 925-847-2120 or

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