San Bruno is the latest Peninsula city to ban pot dispensaries
August 05, 2011
Margaret Baum, San Francisco Examiner
San Bruno recently banned medical marijuana dispensaries, a move that is in line with actions taken by other Peninsula cities.
Only two cities in San Mateo County — San Mateo and San Carlos — currently allow and regulate medical marijuana operations, according to a report presented to the San Bruno City Council by City Attorney Marc Zafferano. San Mateo currently has two collectives in operation, but San Carlos doesn’t have any.
“I’m in favor of an all-out ban on these types of establishments,” said San Bruno City Councilman Ken Ibarra. “I’ve heard enough about secondary issues. They’re too much of a risk, and we’ve got more important things to take care of in this town.”
Daly City and Redwood City have temporary bans, and other cities including South San Francisco, Brisbane, Half Moon Bay and Millbrae have adopted or are considering adopting bans.
In July, South City officials voted to extend a temporary ban on the issuance of licenses and permits for stores that sell tobacco due to concerns about the effects on youths.
Ibarra said he had not heard any complaints from patients.
Dale Gieringer, director of Cal NORML, a medical marijuana patient advocacy group, said San Mateo County should follow the example of its neighboring counties and enact reasonable regulations regarding medical marijuana collectives.
“San Mateo conspicuously lags the rest of the Bay Area with respect to access to medical marijuana,” Gieringer wrote in an email. “The county regulations are deliberately restrictive and unwieldy, with the result that no one has navigated them successfully.”
Although a handful of dispensaries have at one time or another opened doors in San Mateo, Redwood City, East Palo Alto and elsewhere, all of them have been forced to close by local authorities, Gieringer said. Kris Hermes, spokesman for Americans for Safe Access, another medical marijuana advocacy group, said the county, and the city of San Mateo in particular, have a history of hostility toward medical marijuana.
“It’s troubling that hundreds, even thousands of qualified patients have to go to other counties for their needs,” he said, adding that those who don’t have access to transportation either turn to the illicit market or have to learn to cultivate marijuana.
“The lesson here is that cities ought to listen to patients and establish laws that will help benefit these people,” Hermes said.
Marijuana was made legal for medicinal purposes in California with the passage of Proposition 215 in 1996.