Sheriff calls for halt of revision to medical pot ordinance

October 11, 2007

Karen Holzmeister, Alameda Times-Star (CA)

Color him skeptical.

Sheriff Greg Ahern on Tuesday questioned the proposed update of Alameda County's medical marijuana dispensaries ordinance and what the regulation is trying to accomplish.

He wants county supervisors to call a temporary halt to a yearlong ordinance revision and sit down with law enforcement to evaluate what should be permitted.

"Do the governing officials of Alameda County want to have an ordinance allowing easy access to marijuana by young adults, or do they want to work on an ordinance that may provide a small, limited amount of mariuana to elderly people who are very ill?" he asked.

Ahern clearly believes that young, healthy men are in the driver's seat when it comes to buying cannabis at three county-permitted marijuana sales outlets in Cherryland.

"You see a 25-year-old male running up (to the dispensary) and he doesn't appear to be in any immediate need of medical marijuana," Ahern contended.

And, as sheriff's Capt. Dale Amaral noted, deputies eyeballing the dispensaries don't see older people in wheelchairs, on crutches or using oxygen tanks entering to buy marijuana.

Ahern's suggestion, which hasn't formally gone to supervisors yet, surprised Supervisor Nate Miley, the county's point man on dispensaries.

The three Cherryland marijuana sales businesses are in his supervisorial district.

"This is news to me," Miley said when told of Ahern's statements. "I didn't know the sheriff  didn't support the (revised) ordinance."

Miley noted that he supported, and law enforcement opposed, California Proposition 215.

The voter-enacted law allows people with a valid doctor's prescription to possess and cultivate pot for personal use.

While the county needs to eliminate abuse of the state law, "we can't have such a restrictive ordinance that it won't allow patients to get medical marijuana," Miley said.

The county issued operating permits to the three dispensaries during the last two years. During this time, patrons have been the victims of two homicides along with robberies and burglaries, Ahern said.

Amaral called the Compassionate Collective of Alameda County, on Mission Boulevard in Cherryland, a "high-volume nuisance."

The proposed amendments to the current medical marijuana law would allow the dispensaries to carry hashish, a more concentrated and potent form of cannabis. The clinics also would be outlawed from carrying food made with marijuana.



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