Pubdate: Mon,  6 Nov 2006
Source: San Francisco Examiner (CA)
Contact:  2006 San Francisco Examiner
Author: Adam Martin, The Examiner
Bookmark: (Marijuana - California)


SAN FRANCISCO - An ordinance to put marijuana infractions somewhere 
below spitting on the sidewalk on San Francisco's law enforcement 
priority list is slated for a vote after its language was changed to 
give police discretion to investigate marijuana offenses that may 
pose a risk to public safety.

But a neighborhood group that cried foul over the proposed 
ordinance's first inception has not dropped their opposition.

The ordinance, introduced by Supervisor Tom Ammiano on Aug. 15, would 
officially make marijuana possession, sales and cultivation San 
Francisco's lowest law-enforcement priority, with exceptions for 
driving while impaired, selling marijuana to children and endangering 
public safety. It would also create a seven-member advisory community 
oversight committee to monitor implementation.

But a small group of neighbors calling themselves the Fair Oaks 
Community Coalition is making a big noise over the legislation, which 
Ammiano's office characterized as little more than a policy statement.

"It's essentially a drug dealer protection act. It revokes the MCD 
(medical cannabis dispensary) legislation and sidesteps zoning 
restrictions that are in place," coalition member Veronica Gaynor said.

The Fair Oaks group contends that the legislation, which does not 
impose a limit on the number of plants residents can grow, flies in 
the face of zoning laws put in place this year that limit the number 
of plants grown at medical cannabis dispensaries. They also claim it 
will give organized drug cartels a safe place to grow and sell the 
drugs that fund their violent operations.

But Ammiano's office contends that the ordinance would not pre-empt 
the planning code. Any zoning ordinances already on the books 
concerning marijuana cultivation would continue to be enforced, 
according to the supervisor. The law would also allow police to 
investigate potentially violent or unsafe sales and growing operations.

Ammiano said he asked a police captain to help craft language in the 
draft ordinance that would allow police "to effectively investigate 
grow operations and to combat criminal activities associated with the 
sale and distribution of marijuana."

The legislation specifically prohibits selling, growing or consuming 
marijuana on public property or in public view, but San Francisco 
Police Officers Association President Gary Delagnes said increased 
demand because of the legislation would nevertheless increase street 
drug sales because the prices are higher in marijuana clubs. The 
legislation would also compel San Francisco to refuse federal funding 
for marijuana enforcement, which Delagnes said would be a mistake.

San Francisco passed legislation in 1978 ending marijuana arrests and 
prosecutions. Since then, a number of pro-marijuana policy statements 
have passed the Board of Supervisors, but none have been legally 
binding. Ammiano's office claims the proposed legislation would 
simply eliminate the gray area between what is a crime and what isn't.

The proposed ordinance goes before the Board of Supervisors' City 
Operations and Neighborhood Services Committee today at 1 p.m.
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake