Pubdate: Fri, 16 Apr 2010
Source: Napa Valley Register (CA)
Copyright: 2010 Lee Enterprises
Author: Kevin Courtney


Napa's plan to authorize only one medical marijuana dispensary struck 
several planning commissioners as perhaps not enough.

For two commissioners, even one would be too many.

The Planning Commission voted 3-2 Thursday night to support a zoning 
change that would allow pot clinics in office zones. The City Council 
will be the final word on this.

A majority of commissioners supported the council's decision to allow 
medical marijuana dispensaries under highly regulated conditions.

"The words 'Napa' and 'progressive' usually don't go together," said 
Commissioner Gordon Huether, who approved of the city's new direction.

Commissioner Michelle Benvenuto disagreed. "I don't think Napa 
actually needs to be this progressive," she said.

Benvenuto said marijuana had a proven medical benefit, but she 
preferred that patients grow their own or go out of town to buy their 
medicine. "I don't think it's an appropriate land use for Napa," she said.

Commissioner Jay Golik voted with Huether and Chairman Arthur Roosa 
in recommending that the council create zoning for marijuana clinics, 
but said the city was being too conservative in wanting to allow only 
one clinic in the first year.

"My feeling is we're not looking at this big enough," Golik said. He 
agreed with potential applicants who said the demand might swamp a 
single clinic and lead to higher prices.

The city's proposed ordinance would allow the first clinic to serve 
about 7,700 patients -- 10 percent of the city's population -- yet 
the demand could be greater than that, potential applicants said.

Roosa asked about a statewide proposition planned for the November 
ballot that would legalize marijuana for recreational use. How would 
this affect Napa's medical marijuana ordinance? he said.

Legally, the proposition might not have any consequence, but it could 
reduce the economic viability of a pot clinic, Deputy City Attorney 
Peter Spoerl said.

The commission's zoning recommendation and comments on medical 
marijuana will go to the City Council, which will hold a hearing on June 1.

Once regulations are in place, the city will invite applications for 
the first license. 
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake