Pubdate: Wed, 08 Sep 2010
Source: Appeal-Democrat (Marysville, CA)
Copyright: 2010 Appeal-Democrat
Author: Nancy Pasternack, Appeal-Democrat


Prompted by roughly 35 medical marijuana advocates - including one who
used the public comment period to play a Native American tune on a
flute made of bone - the Marysville City Council voted 3-1 Tuesday
night to change future meetings so public comment will be near the
end, rather than at the beginning.

Tuesday's public comment was allowed at the beginning and the end of
the meeting as a one-time measure to accommodate the agenda and the

Mayor Bill Harris voted against the proposed change. Councilman Ben
Wirtschafter was absent.

A spokesman for a medical marijuana dispensary operating in Marysville
without a business license kicked off public comments by telling
council members that they should expect the same large crowd at future

"There are thousands of us in the community," said Joey Leon, who
represents Norcal Health and Wellness Collective, which opened on I
Street across from the Yuba County Government Center late last year.
"They have a voice, a dollar, and they have a vote."

Councilman Michael Selvidge made a point of saying he seconded the
motion to move public comment to the end of the meeting in response to
Leon's assertion that every meeting would be like Tuesday's.

A lawsuit filed on behalf of the city in July seeks to close the

In January, Marysville passed an ordinance requiring that any
dispensary operator seeking business in the city be restricted by
proximity to schools and parks.

The measure effectively prevents businesses like Leon's from operating
within city limits.

Leon accused the council and city staff of "hysteria" in their
response to Norcal's opening.

Norcal, when applying for a business license, had been pitched as a
counseling and self-help group, according to city officials.

"It was fully described what this was going to be," Leon said Tuesday,
his voice escalating. "The only thing that was not described was the
herbs that were going to be used."

Forest Sandifer, a Yuba City resident who said he grows medical
marijuana for his own use, said the tax revenue alone from Norcal
should be an incentive for the city to allow it to continue

"Surely this place can get out of shutting the lights off," he said.
"Everybody there is legit. They know what they're doing and providing
a service to the community." 
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MAP posted-by: Jo-D