June 19, 2012

San Leandro City Council Set to Ban Marijuana Facilities until June 2013

After two failed motions, the San Leandro City Council voted 6-1 to direct staff to draft an ordinance that would prohibit “the establishment and operation of medical marijuana cooperatives collectives dispensaries and cultivation facilities in the City of San Leandro” until June 30, 2013. Councilmember Jim Prola voted against the motion.

The original staff recommendation was to draft an ordinance that didn't have a sunset date.

A presentation by City of San Leandro staff included Senior Planner Kathleen Livermore, Assistant City Attorney Richard Pio Roda, and Police Chief Sandra Spagnoli. Livermore went over the recent history, from the original interim urgency ordinance enacted by the City Council on October 4, 2010, to the first extension on November 15, 2010, and the last extension on September 6, 2011. The history actually dates back to December 2004, when the first interim urgency ordinance was passed, with extensions in January 2005, and January 2006.

Pio Roda addressed the current legal cases that could affect how medical marijuana facilities are dealt with by municipalities in California: City of Riverside v. Inland Empire Patient's Health and Wellness Center, City of Lake Forest v. Evergreen Holistic Collective and Pack v. City of Long Beach. Pio Roda also noted AB 2312, the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Control Act, a bill introduced by Tom Ammiano to clarify how cities could regulate medical marijuana facilities.

Chief Spagnoli spoke regarding law enforcement's view on the subject of medical marijuana facilities, claiming that the San Leandro Police Department complies with Proposition 215, which legalized medical marijuana in 1996. Spagnoli said that there were public safety significant issues with sales and distribution of marijuana, citing a shooting on January 18, 2012, a June 16, 2012, home invasion robbery of a medical marijuana user on Castro Street, and several structure fires related to growing operations. Spagnoli cited the California Healthy Kids Survey in which students reported that by 7th grade, 7% had used marijuana, by 9th grade, 20% had used marijuana, and by 11th grade, 29% had used “marijuana in their life time.” Spagnoli stated that “It is clear that marijuana is a gateway drug.”

However, numerous studies, including a 1999 report by the National Academy of Sciences and a 2010 study by the University of New Hampshire concluded that marijuana is not a gateway drug. The New Hampshire study of nearly 1,300 young adults concluded that the biggest predictor for whether someone will use other drugs is race/ethnicity. Employment status and stress were also more important factors than marijuana use.

Five people spoke in favor of banning marijuana facilities, including Deborah Cox and potential District 4 City Council candidate Benny Lee. Those speaking against banning marijuana facilities included a former U.S. Marine suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, San Leandro School Board member Diana Prola, UFCW representative Dan Rush, District 4 City Council candidate Chris Crow and potential District 2 City Council candidate Dan Dillman.

After public comments were finished, Prola asked Pio Roda about Meyers Nave's role in helping Oakland drafting rules for regulating marijuana facilities and Pio Roda admitted that Meyers Nave had “advised” the City of Oakland on how to proceed given the guidance from the Attorney General at the time.

After expounding at length on the benefits of medical marijuana (treating ill people, less crime, safer roads), Prola offered the first motion to delay consideration of any ordinance until after the California Supreme Court rules on two relevant cases. Prola's motion was seconded by Vice Mayor Michael Gregory. Cassidy said that he would like to see an ordinance that would regulate marijuana facilities but that believed that access to medical marijuana was being abused and he would be voting with this in mind. The motion failed 5-2, with only Prola and Gregory voting for the motion.

Councilmember Joyce Starosciak followed with a motion to direct staff to draft an ordinance to ban marijuana facilities right away. That motion failed 3 to 4, with only Starosciak, Councilmember Pauline Cutter, and Councilmember Diana Souza voting in favor of the motion.

After Souza asked questions about whether the City Council could change the ordinance in the future (yes), confirming that not having an ordinance might put the City at risk (yes) and Prola asked whether cities that did have an ordinance had been sued (yes), Cutter offered a motion to delay any action until the last City Council meeting in July (the City Council usually doesn't meet in August). The motion was seconded by Councilmember Ursula Reed, but was subsequently withdrawn and Cutter then motioned for the staff to draft an ordinance that would ban marijuana facilities until June 30, 2013. After that date, the ordinance would expire, unless the City Council took action to extend or modify the ordinance.

The next regular meeting of the San Leandro City Council is scheduled for July 2, 2012.

Posted by Mike Katz-Lacabe at June 19, 2012 12:32 AM | TrackBack

I attended june 18 meeting re: item 10B, Medical marijuana regulation, and was dismayed to see and hear a lot of misinformation coming from Chief Spagnoli and the Assistant city Attorney.

I would expect a biased view from the Chief.

But the Attorney's comments were inaccurate, that is to say false.

Whether by incompetence or intention, he misguided the council regarding current published case law, to wit he failed to even mention People v Colvin, the most recent and unchallenged California Appellate which clearly establishes the legality of MMJ Collectives and storefront dispensaries.

To proceed based on such flawed information would be folly, and malfeasance,

Posted by: mike lee at June 19, 2012 3:21 PM
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