Pubdate: Sun, 12 Apr 2009
Source: Lodi News-Sentinel (CA)
Copyright: 2009 Lodi News-Sentinel
Author: Maggie Creamer, News-Sentinel Staff Writer
Bookmark: (Marijuana - Medicinal)


After getting several inquiries about opening a medical pot outlet in
Lodi, city officials are seeking a temporary ban to give them time to
study the issue.

The city of Lodi received three inquiries in March, about a week after
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Department of
Justice will only target marijuana distributors violating both state
and federal law.

Because there is no policy in Lodi, Deputy City Attorney Janice
Magdich will ask the council on Wednesday to approve a 45-day
moratorium on the opening or approval of dispensaries in the city.

This will give city staff time to evaluate the possible effects of a
dispensary in Lodi.

In other cities, dispensaries have opened and the city had nothing to
regulate them," Magdich said.

Four votes are required for approval of the temporary moratorium
because it is an "urgency" addition to the city's ordinances.

Usually, ordinance changes require a public hearing. If city staff
request an extended moratorium for more research time, that will be
decided on May 20 at a public hearing.

Brian Bader is among those interested in opening a medical marijuana
location. He hopes the council will take the time to learn about the
benefits of having a dispensary in the community. Bader would like to
open one because he wants to provide a safe business instead of some
of the "fly-by-night" dispensaries in other cities.

Most of the people look like your grandmothers and mothers, they are
not some punk kids ... It's a health and safety issue," Bader said.

Magdich did some preliminary research on dispensaries in other cities
by updating a League of California Cities report. She found that out
of 147 cities, 28 regulate medical marijuana dispensaries, 49 prohibit
them and 70 cities have moratoriums.

Some of the moratoriums have expired, but most were put in place to
allow city staff time for more analysis or to await further
clarification on the contradiction of state and federal laws.

Bader maintains that clarification came March 18, when Holder
announced a reversal from the past eight years under President George
W. Bush by not targeting all dispensaries. He said the administration
will still focus on any dispensaries that "use medical marijuana laws
as a shield" for other illegal activity.

While 13 states allow medicinal marijuana, California is the only one
that has dispensaries.

Marijuana meeting information Issue: A 45-day moratorium on medical
marijuana dispensaries, so city staff has time to research potential
effects. The council must approve it with at least four votes. Why
now: In March, President Barack Obama's administration announced it
will not prosecute owners of dispensaries that follow California law.
In the next week, the city received three inquiries about opening a
dispensary in Lodi. When and where: 7 p.m. Wednesday, 305 W. Pine Street, Lodi.

Based on her brief study, Magdich has found cities where dispensaries
are only allowed in certain areas or have restrictions placed in their
permits. She also found two cities where the city ordinances only
allow the distribution of marijuana at pharmacies. For Bader, a
dispensary will keep people in the area from driving to Sacramento to
get their medicinal marijuana, which will help Lodi's tax base. He
also said the dispensaries he has been to are clean and safe.

Bader, 53, has used marijuana to ease pain from a soft-tissue disease.
While he would like to be the one to open a profitable dispensary in
Lodi, if someone else opens one first, he will drop the idea.

My thing is this, if it so comes to the point where they allow it, we
don't need 10 business licenses or even 5," he said. "We are a small

In a staff report, Lodi Police Chief David Main said he is concerned
about the secondary effects of dispensaries, including robbery, people
purchasing drugs, and other crimes near the dispensary.

He includes information from other cities where crime has increased
around dispensaries, and the cities have had to do more police patrols
in the area.

Bader said if properly run, there will not be an increase in crimes.
He said if he had a dispensary, he would ensure no one smoked on the
property, and staff would check all of the prescriptions with the
doctor who wrote them.

He also would keep a limited amount of money and marijuana on the
premise. At other dispensaries, there are armed security guards, but
he doesn't think that would be necessary. One of his suggestions is
hiring fourth or fifth degree black belts as security to ensure all
the staff and customers are safe.

In 2001, Bader was a leading proponent of a dispensary and asked the
council members to come see one with him, but none of them took him up
on the offer. He hopes they will come this time.

None of those people on the council have seen a dispensary," he said.
"In their minds, they think it's a pot house."

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 
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