Pubdate: Tue, 15 Jul 2008
Source: Arcata Eye (CA)
Copyright: 2008 Arcata Eye
Author: Kevin L. Hoover, Eye Editor
Bookmark: (Cannabis - California)


CITY HALL - The Planning Commission again talked pot last week, taking
comment and discussing the maturing body of land use standards
proposed by staff to help bring order to Arcata's largely unregulated
cannabis scene.

Now, a new wild card has popped up in the form of an announcement
expected this week from the California Attorney General's Office.
Indications are that new guidelines for cannabis dispensaries may
render moot some of the policy the Planco has been developing, not to
mention undermine the stated wishes of some of Arcata's cannabis outlets.

Ruling out retail

"We are issuing guidelines under the Medical Marijuana Program Act,"
said Jacob Appelsmith, deputy attorney general. These, he said, will
consist of "guidance to [cannabis] patients and dispensaries."

The new guidelines will "technically have no legal force," Appelsmith
said, but will express the will of top state legal authorities and be
"arguably persuasive when making other laws." That could include the
deliberations of the Planco as it develops Arcata land use law.

While not disclosing details prior to this week's formal announcement,
Appelsmith previewed one aspect that could undermine the retail
business model under which most Arcata dispensaries operate.

"You can't come in off the street with a recommendation and buy
marijuana," he said. "It's dubious whether you can sell marijuana at
all." Appelsmith said cannabis dispensaries must be "collectives"
comprised of 215 patients. "You cannot sell marijuana for a profit,"
Appelsmith said. "That's all we're saying."

He said the AG's office recognizes the plight of 215 patients who
can't grow for themselves, and sees dispensaries as a useful method of
providing them with medicine. But, he said, "It has to be a
collective; a closed loop."

The new guidelines are intended to suppress abuses of 215, such as use
of medical grows to service the retail market, that "undercut its

"We're trying to see how this can best be done so that patients can
get a safe supply and prevent diversion," Appelsmith said.

He said the AG's office is also challenging the recent appellate court
decision overturning limits on amounts of cannabis that 215 patients
may possess.

The impending guidelines run counter to entreaties made by some
dispensary operators to the Planco at last week's meeting. They asked
that the commission give City approval to illegal purchases of
cannabis from home gardens managed by 215 patients - this despite
repeated statements by commissioners and staff that the thrust of the
new dispensary regs would be to sever any connection to residential

Arcata iCenter Tim Littlefield said 215 patients can grow up to two
pounds of cannabis in their legally authorized 99 square feet every
six weeks, and like to offload the "overage" at his clinic.

A suggestion made at the meeting's start by alternative transportation
enthusiast Bill Burton was to resonate positively throughout the
lengthy meeting. He said any new City rules should require grows to
use carbon capping and credits to decrease emissions. "All across the
state, we can set an example here," Burton said.

The suggestion was eagerly embraced by other speakers, including
dispensary operators and commissioners.
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MAP posted-by: Larry Seguin