Marina rejects marijuana proposal

February 07, 2007

Larry Parsons, Monterey Herald (CA)

Marina City Council members want no part of their community becoming the first site in Monterey County for medical marijuana clinics.

The council rejected appeals Tuesday from medical marijuana advocates and voted 5-0 to ban clinics under the city's zoning code.

Councilman Mike Morrison was peeved that some of the handful of proponents were from other cities on the Monterey Peninsula. He suggested they espouse their cause closer to home.

"Marina is not the place to forward a social agenda," Morrison said.

Councilman Gary Wilmot noted that while California law allows medicinal marijuana use, federal laws ban the drug.

"We're not here to enforce some of the laws," he said.

"We are a nation of laws," Morrison said. "We the people have to follow them."

Some suggested lifting the ban if federal law changes and would allow medical marijuana outlets. Wilmot said that if that happens, chain drug stores will be selling marijuana medicine and small outlets won't be needed.

City staff members said allowing marijuana clinics in Marina could increase law enforcement costs and cause unexpected turnover in commercial rental property if a clinic is raided by federal drug agents.

Several members of a local group called the Foundation to End Drug Unfairness Policies, or FED UP, urged the council to allow clinics as a compassionate move for cancer patients and others who benefit from medical marijuana.

They said the city shouldn't put a blanket ban on its books without considering the merits of a specific application.

Lawrence Samuels, group chairman, said clinics would provide an outlet for medical marijuana that professional caregivers would distribute. The other option, he said, is to easily buy illegal marijuana on the street.

David Henderson, an economics professor at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, said, "People have the right to risk dealing with the federal government.... Don't make people's decisions for them."

Testimony against medical marijuana outlets came from several Marina residents. Some comments verged on comedy.

One woman said she wouldn't want to be shopping in the local supermarket and have people who just left a marijuana clinic running into her cart while under the drug's influence.

Jeff Post, a Marina resident, said he would be all for medical marijuana "as soon as it's sold at Walgreens."


Larry Parsons can be reached at 646-4379 or lparsons@montereyherald.com.


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