Pot shops not held in high regard by some

September 27, 2005

David Bunker, Sierra Sun

If a Monday night meeting was any indication, Truckee residents do not want a medical marijuana shop in town. The community meeting, which was the first step toward a Truckee Town Council decision on prohibiting or allowing medical marijuana shops in town, drew only a handful of people, all of whom were overwhelmingly opposed to the idea.

“I am very adamantly against it,” Mavis Bowes said.

Truckee resident George Robertson said that although he is sympathetic to people who are experiencing chronic pain, Truckee may not be the appropriate place for a medical pot shop.

“If this would help somebody I am all for it, but I am more for them driving to [the] Colfax [shop],” Robertson said.

The Town of Truckee’s decision to formulate a stance on the controversial topic came after two Bay Area medical marijuana shops called and asked about locating in town.

Truckee had no specific restrictions on medical marijuana stores, which meant a dispensary or cooperative could have moved in to any commercial location in Truckee.

The town adopted a temporary prohibition on medical marijuana, and then extended it to a 10-month ban in June. Truckee officials hope to have a decision on banning, restricting or allowing medical pot shops by January.

At the heart of the debate over the legality of medical marijuana is the discrepancy over state and federal law, which became clearer when the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a decision in Gonzalez v. Raich that said federal law supersedes state laws on medical marijuana.

The decision puts Truckee in a precarious situation, where allowing a marijuana shop could open the town up to federal drug raids, but banning the shops outright without a formal ordinance could spur litigation from a prospective shop owner.

“Unless congress changes [the federal law] we will always be in conflict because of Proposition 215 and Senate Bill 420,” said Truckee Associate Planner Heidi Burns.

Nevada County’s District Attorney Michael Ferguson, who attended the meeting, warned that state law is still vague, while the federal stance is clear that medical marijuana is illegal.

“Under federal law you cannot even grow marijuana,” Ferguson said.
If the town allows a medical marijuana shop despite federal law that says it is illegal, Truckee could be “aiding and abetting the violation of law,” Ferguson said.

Truckee officials will decide whether to hold another public meeting on medical marijuana before the matter goes to the planning commission and town council. But at the first meeting the public’s message on the issue was clear, Burns said.

“Based on this turnout, we may say we need to prohibit medical marijuana in town,” she said.



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