Pot dispensaries in city could go up in smoke

December 10, 2007

Hilary Costa, Contra Costa Times (CA)

Brentwood will take up a ban on medical marijuana dispensaries.

The City Council will discuss at its meeting tonight an ordinance that would permanently prohibit the facilities.

"Prohibiting medical marijuana dispensaries ... is necessary and appropriate to maintain and protect the public health, safety and welfare of the citizens of Brentwood," the ordinance states.

In September 2006, the council unanimously approved an ordinance that temporarily prohibited medical marijuana dispensaries, pending further study of the effect such businesses had on the health, safety and welfare of other communities. That stopgap measure came after it was determined that the city code at the time neither allowed nor explicitly prevented dispensaries from setting up shop in Brentwood.

"We have concerns about the type of crime that is associated with these types of facilities," Police Capt. Brian Strock said.

Brentwood Planning Manager Heidi Kline and Strock will make a presentation on the ordinance tonight. According to the staff report, a number of organizations have approached the planning department in the past about locating dispensaries there. There are none in the city.

In 1996, California voters approved Proposition 215, which made it legal for seriously ill people to use marijuana for medicinal purposes. Marijuana possession is illegal under federal law.

Brentwood's ordinance would not ban state-licensed clinics, health care facilities, residential care facilities or hospice.

During the 14 months since Brentwood's first ordinance was enacted, city staff members consulted with officials from other cities and surveyed dozens of newspaper articles that detailed negative effects linked to marijuana dispensaries.

The most prevalent effects include armed robberies, increased violence and illegal marijuana sales and consumption, according to the staff report completed for the new ordinance.

Brentwood Police Chief Mark Evenson said that the department supports the ban.

"I can certainly say in my experience as a law enforcement official there are negative consequences to having that type of facility in a community," he said.

He said it is difficult to weigh those concerns against the medical need of some residents but that public safety takes priority.

Brentwood police have seen a recent rise in certain drug-related crimes. Evenson said that his department has shut down a handful of growing operations in the past year where people had rented or purchased a house to use it exclusively to grow marijuana.

In addition to the fire hazard posed by the high electrical usage, such operations can cause an increase in crime in the area if drugs are being sold from the site, Evenson said.

Reach Hilary Costa at 925-779-7139 or hcosta@bayareanewsgroup.com.


if you go


  • WHO: Brentwood City Council


  • WHAT: Discussing an ordinance to ban medical marijuana dispensaries


  • WHERE: City Council chamber, 734 Third St.


  • WHEN: 7 tonight


  • CONTACT: 925-516-5400

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