Posted by George Pappas
1. San Mateo City Council Moves to Regulate Medical Cannabis Dispensaries
The city of San Mateo this week took steps toward regulations that would oversee the operation of medical cannabis dispensaries this week. The review of the draft ordinance, which took place at a special city council study session and is to be considered for a vote later this year, was generally viewed favorably by officials and the public alike, though there was some concern over what was seen by some as problematic language.
City staff drafted the proposal after federal agents and local police raided dispensaries in August of last year. This week’s meeting was an attempt by the city to bring clarity, consistency, and hopefully safety to San Mateo residents and dispensary operators. "Overall, I support this and want to move forward as fast as possible so people know what they can and what they can’t do," said Deputy Mayor Brandt Grotte.
The ordinance would require collectives to register with the Police Department and collective growers to obtain a license. In addition, the ordinance will require certain security standards, such as on-site cameras, security lighting, and alarms, and will prohibit advertising and exchange of cannabis for money at the collective. The ordinance will prohibit collectives from being anywhere in the city except manufacturing and service commercial areas, according to the report. Though it was encouraging for San Mateo officials to be considering these regulations, certain functional difficulties presented themselves with the ordinance, such as how a collective could continue to function and maintain itself if members were not allowed to exchange money for cannabis on site. Residents of San Mateo are encouraged to participate in upcoming council meetings where the draft resolution will be considered.
2. San Joaquin County Votes to Implement Patient ID Program
The San Joaquin Supervisors voted 3-2 to implement the medical cannabis ID card program earlier this week, which has been mandatory for counties since SB420 passed the CA State Legislature in 2004. Though some on the board expressed a desire to continue to avoid implementing, the consensus was that officials’ hands were tied, that the program was legally required by the state, and that there seemed to be no other way to avoid making the ID that would help people living with serious illnesses avoid going to jail needlessly.
According to Bill Mitchell, San Joaquin County Public Health Director, the demand for the ID card hasn’t been large, but there has been speculation that the interest will increase once the county begins to administer the program. Though voluntary, the ID cards help protect patients from unnecessary arrest, as law enforcement typically rely on the card as the most legitimate form of documentation asserting a patient’s status as legal under California Proposition 215 . Law enforcement are technically required to accept any doctor recommendation.
The County is scheduled to hear public comments on proposed costs of the ID to applicants on November 4, at the Supervisors Meeting, 222 E. Weber in Stockton.
3. La Palma City Council Bans Medical Cannabis Dispensaries
La Palma City Council members effectively banned medical cannabis dispensaries within city limits by voting on an ordinance that bans any establishment that violates local, state, or federal laws. The vote was clearly directed at those qualified patients seeking to gain access to cannabis as treatment, though the ordinance language was ambiguous.
At least one medical cannabis patient attended the meeting and made a tearful plea to dissuade the council members. Lisa Boynton said that cannabis helped her deal with her pain, and that she needed a place where she could safely get it. "Your community is suffering from this," said Boynton, referring to the vote. Wanting to come off as compassionate to those living with serious illnesses, La Palma City Councilors claimed their hands were tied, that they had to "maintain the laws of our state and federal government" according to Council Member Christine Barnes.
The argument was unconvincing, and demonstrated to many that the council members for the smallest municipality in Orange County were either uneducated on state and federal supremacy laws, or purposefully misrepresenting them. State law clearly allows collectives and cooperatives according to guidelines recently issued by California Attorney General Jerry Brown, cities and counties throughout California have regulated them with no legal disputes, and numerous courts at both the state and federal levels have held that municipal and state governments can keep and implement effective medical cannabis laws.