Pubdate: Tue, 06 Apr 2010
Source: Napa Valley Register (CA)
Copyright: 2010 Lee Enterprises
Author: John Waters Jr.
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)


Calistoga city leaders say they need more time -- again  -- to 
consider a medical marijuana dispensary  ordinance.

At first, the city placed a 90-day moratorium on pot  shops, then 
followed that up with a 10-month interim  ordinance. Now the 
Calistoga City Council wants to  extend the moratorium for an 
additional 12 months.

The proposed extension is expected to pass at tonight's  council meeting.

The city has been grappling with a medical marijuana  policy for a year.

On March 30, 2009, City Hall received a business  license application 
for a medical marijuana dispensary  in town. The request was later 
withdrawn by the  applicant.

About a month later, the council decided it had better  head the next 
request off at the pass and passed a  45-day ban so councilmembers 
could work out policies  about zoning and business operation rules 
and restrictions.

Toward the end of that moratorium they decided they  needed more 
time, extending the moratorium another 10  months and 15 days.

According to staff reports, one of the reasons for the  extension was 
to see what happens with a pending  lawsuit, Qualified Patients Assn. 
v. City of Anaheim in  Orange County. In that case, advocates of 
medical  marijuana are challenging a Southern California city's 
outright ban on marijuana dispensaries.

That case could be decided as early as April 29 --  maybe earlier -- 
according to a Calistoga city staff  report.

Since the council passed the urgency ban last spring,  there have 
been several changes on the medical  marijuana front.

For one, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said the  Justice 
Department would no longer raid legally  licensed medical marijuana clubs.

Separately, a marijuana legalization initiative has  qualified for 
the November 2010 ballot.

Additionally, the city of Cotati approved a dispensary,  Napa is 
planning to allow one, American Canyon banned  any business banned by 
federal law and Lake County has  adopted an ordinance banning any new 
medical marijuana  facilities.

Calistoga planning staff and the police chief have  assessed the 
impacts in communities where dispensaries  have been allowed.

Police Chief Jonathan Mills said those impacts have  been increased 
loitering, illegal drug activity,  burglaries and other criminal activity.

Advocates for dispensaries say they raise tax revenue,  and that many 
clubs have a record of contributing to  local nonprofit organizations 
and charities.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom