Planners ask council to extend medical pot club ban in Redwood City two more years

September 20, 2011

Bonnie Eslinger, San Jose Mercury News

Medical marijuana dispensaries shouldn't be allowed for at least two more years while Redwood City goes about rezoning its neighborhoods to reflect general plan changes, the planning commission has concluded.

The commission's recommendation will go to the city council sometime before Dec. 10, when the city's temporary ban of medical pot clubs is scheduled to expire.

At its meeting Tuesday, planning commissioners echoed staff concerns that parts of the city could eventually be rezoned for residential uses, with parks and schools, and as such those areas would be inappropriate for medical marijuana establishments.

But pot club advocates said the ban doesn't account for the needs of patients and is driven by unsubstantiated fears that such establishments attract crime.

"You have tens of thousands of cannabis patients up and down the Peninsula," said Jonathan Steigman, a spokesman for Americans for Safe Access. "You should be representing your constituents, not some imaginary view that it's really dangerous."

In the end, several commissioners said they felt their recommendation is based on land-use concerns, not on whether medical marijuana dispensaries belong in the city.

Commission Vice Chairman Ernie Schmidt said he has mixed feelings about a ban, but is willing to wait for more information to ensure that all safety concerns are addressed.

"As a community leader, I don't want to see our residents suffering," he said.

"But at the same time I don't want to see our residents or neighbors be victimized."



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