Citrus Heights planners favor permit for medical marijuana facility

December 09, 2004

David Richie, Sacramento Bee

A use permit for a medical marijuana dispensary at 6240 Greenback Lane was approved this week by the Citrus Heights Planning Commission.

The decision on Thursday came after a tense two-hour public hearing and ended several months of debate about the "Cannabis Patients Co-op" proposed by Mary Jennifer Berg - the only application pending in Citrus Heights or unincorporated Sacramento County involving medical marijuana.

OAS_AD('Button20'); The Citrus Heights ordinance on medical marijuana requires a two-part process. Now that Berg has been granted a conditional use permit from the planning commission, she must also secure a "medical cannabis dispensary permit" from the city manager.

Legitimate use of medical marijuana by individuals who are very ill and security for the storefront operation were discussed at length by the planning panel Thursday night.

Commission Chairman Jack Duncan and Commissioner Bill Van Duker are both older men who stated that they probably would not recognize cannabis if it was dropped on the table in front of them.

Van Duker described himself as a "four-year cancer survivor" who spent almost a month in a local hospital. He had an extreme reaction to the pain medications that were offered to him. The experience has allowed him to understand why some very sick people might turn to medical marijuana for relief.

He also criticized the general federal effort to halt illegal drug activity.

"The war on drugs has been a failure. It has been about as successful as Prohibition," Van Duker said. "I don't see this particular dispensary as a black blight on the neighborhood."

Duncan voiced serious doubts about a cannabis dispensary being the right thing for the city. His business was invaded a few years ago by men who thought that marijuana was being stored on the premises, Duncan said.

"My son had a gun held to his head," Duncan said. "It's scary and it has taken us two years to get over this."



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