Pubdate: Tue, 28 Feb 2006
Source: Auburn Journal (CA)
Copyright: 2006 Gold Country Media
Author: Michelle Miller, Journal Staff Writer
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)


Vote Is 4-1 For Approval Of New City Ordinance

Medical marijuana patients won't be getting their prescriptions filled
in Auburn anytime soon.

The Auburn City Council approved a new ordinance Monday night
disallowing facilities that distribute medical marijuana within city

Councilman Keith Nesbitt was the lone no in the 4-1 vote as the other
council members, Kevin Hanley, Bob Snyder, Bridget Powers and Mayor
Mike Holmes, voted to outlaw dispensaries.

Many proponents at the meeting said outlawing dispensaries goes
against the will of California voters, who approved the "Compassionate
Use Act" in 1996.

But that has created a legal quandary for several California cities,
including Auburn. Some have sought to prohibit medical marijuana
dispensaries since the U.S. Supreme court ruled federal drug laws
apply, even in states that have condoned medical or "compassionate"
use of the substance.

Although there weren't plans to establish a dispensary in Auburn, the
city now joins others such as Roseville and Rocklin, which have
prohibited dispensaries.

Some implored the council to keep access for patients.

"You don't have to be followers, but you can be leaders," said Ryan
Landers, California state director of the American Alliance for
Medical Cannabis.

Landers told the council that patients from the Auburn area go to
Sacramento County to fill their cannabis prescriptions.

"Another thing to base your decision on is the number of patients
within your city limits. You'd be surprised to know who they are. Some
are your own friends who are scared to let people know they use
medical marijuana," he said. "I understand what it's like to have to
go to other communities because your own is not accepting of you."

Four others spoke in support of keeping Auburn's code as it is, which
merely regulated where dispensaries could be located. No member of the
public advocated outlawing them altogether.

But for several members of the council, the issue boiled down to
federal law superceding state law.

Councilman Kevin Hanley said the debate was one for the federal level,
but he also expressed concern for local businesses.

"(The council has) spent a lot of time thinking of ways to strengthen
the business district," Hanley said. "But what I believe is that
locating a medical marijuana dispensary next to a Roper's Jewelers in
downtown or an Awful Annie's in Old Town will have a deleterious
effect on the surrounding businesses in those districts."

Auburn Police Chief Valerie Harris said she conducted an informal
survey of six different businesses, all of which said they would not
be favorable to having a dispensary next door.

Hanley also said allowing dispensaries would expose the city to
unannounced drug raids from the federal Drug Enforcement Agency.

Harris said the city had not received any formal applications to
establish a dispensary in Auburn, but has received an e-mail inquiring
about the community's stance on medical marijuana. The closest medical
marijuana dispensary is in Colfax.

Hanley said it was inevitable that someone would try to establish one
in Auburn.

"It's going to happen, it's going to go to the Planning Commission for
deliberation and it's going to come here, so does this council want to
say tonight that we don't want a medical marijuana dispensary in our

Councilman Bob Snyder agreed, saying that the federal law needs to be
respected until it is changed. Councilwoman Bridget Powers concurred.

However, Councilman Keith Nesbitt said he listened to those speakers
who asked the council to vote with their heart.

"Anybody who's seen the effects of chemotherapy can't be against the
compassionate use law," said Nesbitt, whose wife has battled cancer.

He said he was also concerned about proximity to schools.

"I'm voting on the principle that the most local government has the
most effect on the people," he said. "I do not believe the federal
government has the right to undermine the California

He added an emphatic "no" at the roll call vote of the council, which
approved changing the ordinance.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Derek