Pot clinic ordinance called for in Angels

September 21, 2004

Erin Mayes, Union Democrat

In what the city's attorney called a 'prudent' move, the Angels Camp City Council last night unanimously adopted an ordinance that would regulate medical marijuana clinics.

'It's not because we're trying to lure dispensaries in our city. We don't want people coming into town trying to make a profit off other people's miseries,' said Angels Camp Police Chief Tony Tacheira, who explained that qualified patients and care givers should be able to purchase medical cannabis for about 50 cents an ounce rather than the hundreds of dollars it sells for on the street.

'People who use this here can know they're not getting ripped off and it's legitimate.'

Richard Matranga, the city attorney, said passage of Proposition 215 in 1996 — which gives seriously ill people the right to obtain and use medical cannabis — left cities wondering how to regulate its sale. The new Angels Camp ordinance should clear up any questions on the issue, he said.

Only one audience member — Fred Haesche — spoke up on the topic to ask, 'Do you think if you put this before the voters of this city that they would vote it in? For a dope shop to open?'

But Councilman Lee Seaton explained he doesn't think 'dope dealers' would find Angels Camp's new regulations very appealing.

'It's the idea of being proactive,' he said. 'If someone's trying to get a deal going, they're going to go somewhere where no regulations have been established.'

The ordinance, to take effect in 30 days, restricts the sale of medical marijuana only to primary care givers, qualified patients or people with identification cards that allow such purchases.

Clinics would have to be not-for-profit, be allowed only in commercial and industrial areas and would have to obtain conditional use permits from the city beforehand.

They would not be allowed in residential areas or within 1,000 feet of another medical marijuana clinic. They would not be within 1,000 feet of any youth-oriented establishment or any establishment frequented mainly by minors.

Medical cannabis also would not be sold at health care clinics, residential care facilities — including those for the elderly — or hospices.

And they would not be allowed to sell alcohol or distribute any other goods or services.

'I don't think there's anybody at this table anticipating a dope supermarket in Angels Camp,' said Councilman Paul Raggio.

There are not currently any cannabis clinics within city limits or in Calaveras County. Right now chronically ill patients in California with the proper paperwork from their doctors are allowed to grow as many as six mature marijuana plants or own up to a half-pound of processed marijuana.

Counties can also restrict how much marijuana a patient may possess at any given time — Calaveras County supervisors in 2000 adopted a six-plant, 2-pound limit.

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