Pubdate: Wed, 20 May 2009
Source: Lodi News-Sentinel (CA)
Copyright: 2009 Lodi News-Sentinel
Author: Maggie Creamer
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)


Jean Cowsert was the only community member to speak at the Galt City 
Council meeting about the possibility of medicinal marijuana 
dispensaries coming to town, and she ended her comments with, "Hope I 
didn't kill it, but I'm sure it's dead anyway."

The council voted 4 to 1 to continue a temporary ordinance preventing 
the opening of medical marijuana dispensaries for 10 months and 15 
days. That is the maximum amount of time the city could extend the 
temporary ban under state law.

The council also directed staff to study an ordinance change that 
will permanently ban these businesses.

"To take the risk and have dispensaries in the community, I'm not 
ready to do that," Councilwoman Barbara Payne said. "I do not want to 
see Galt as a destination for people to come purchase their marijuana."

Cowsert, who has a doctor recommendation to use marijuana for her 
fibromyalgia, said she grows her own but would like to see a 
dispensary in Galt for all the other patients who cannot grow it.

"We are so conservative that we are backwards," Cowsert said. "We are 
not dealing with the issue ... I'm here to stand up for the patients 
that are afraid to walk in through these doors."

As the lone vote opposed to extending the ordinance, Councilman 
Andrew Meredith said the council should allow dispensaries because 
California voters approved marijuana for medical use in 1996 under 
Proposition 215, which is commonly referred to as the Compassionate Use Act.

He said he was in favor of the council moving forward with placing a 
zoning restriction that would limit these types of dispensaries to an 
industrial park.

"The voters have spoken," he said. "It is irresponsible for Galt to 
overturn California voters."

In response, Councilman Darryl Clare, who was speaking by 
teleconference, said the city is not going against voters, because 
Californians approved the use of medicinal marijuana but never 
mandated dispensaries.

The council had originally voted on a temporary ban in a special 
session April 27 after city staff received an inquiry about how to 
obtain a business license for a dispensary.

Cowsert told the council that dispensaries could reduce the amount of 
patients going to the streets to get marijuana. She also said that at 
properly run dispensaries, there are few crimes.

During the council members' comments, Cowsert repeatedly scoffed and 
yelled, "What are you afraid of?!" She also clapped during Meredith's 
comments, thanking him for his vote before being escorted out by Galt 
Police Chief Loren Cattolico.

Having toured several dispensaries, Councilman Donald Haines said he 
knows they are targeted for crime. He described the bullet-proof 
glass and the armed security guards who escort people to their cars.

Haines also raised concerns about the quality of the product because 
he said the industry is not properly regulated. "My biggest concern 
is whether it is a good fit for Galt," Haines said.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom