Pubdate: Thu, 13 Jan 2011
Source: Paradise Post (CA)
Copyright: 2011 Paradise Post
Author: Paul Wellersdick
Bookmark: (Cannabis - California)
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)


A moratorium on medical marijuana cooperative gardens and 
dispensaries was approved on a split vote Tuesday night by the 
Paradise Town Council.

Next month the council will host a public hearing on the matter 
before it can consider extending the moratorium past 45 days to 10 
and a half months. The ban can't last more than two years.

Mayor Alan white was the lone vote against the measure, saying the 
moratorium would slow the regulation process too much. One man 
supporting marijuana rights Tuesday was Jon Remalia, who came with 
his lawyer, Eric Berg, who challenged the town's legal right to 
restrict medical marijuana to patients and its right to restrict property use.

Berg said Remalia invested $50,000 into a project to sublet a 
basement to marijuana growers and had done all the legal business 
moves, but banning such legitimate efforts only penalized law-abiding 
citizens, not those that abuse the drug. Remalia's plan is to build 
16, 6- by 6-foot cubicles in the basement of the Chin Dynasty 
building on Skyway at Wagstaff Road which he is buying and is now in escrow.

He argued that his operation would be safer than the way marijuana is 
now grown, with hundreds of collective grow sites in town that 
attract negative attention. The underground operation would be built 
to code and be extremely secure, he said.

Some of the council said it liked Remalia's idea as a concept, 
especially filtering the odorous air out of the grow area, including 
White who only wanted to speed up the approval process.

Nearly the whole council said they had fielded complaints about 
marijuana odor in the fall as crops ripen. Though a medical marijuana 
user, Remalia agreed that the plant smells like a skunk. However, 
Remalia said the drug offered relief from seven other prescriptions 
he was taking for lung problems.

While there was some talk about the merit of medical marijuana, the 
issue wasn't as much about pot as it was about land use, the council 
and Town Hall staff said. Development Services Director Craig Baker 
said the Town Hall needed more time to study the legal landscape 
before regulating dispensaries and co-ops.

The most important consideration was where and how to allow such 
operations, not if, he said. White disagreed that the town needed to 
study the legal climate of the issue, saying Town Hall has every 
legal right to determine where it would allow cooperative grow sites 
and non-profit pot shops. He said after the meeting that he preferred 
to make sound judgment aside from what others do.

The issue was urgent for the town's consideration as other 
neighboring jurisdictions also consider the issue fronting local 
governments, Baker said. Town Attorney Dwight Moore said the council 
had the legal backing for its decision Tuesday which was to prohibit 
"medical marijuana distribution facilities" and "marijuana collectives."

Moore defined a distribution facility as one serving two or more 
people that don't live together at the facility. A collective was 
defined as a group collectively growing pot together indoors or 
outside. Moore said the City of Chico and the county were 
entertaining ordinances to restrict the drug. Councilman Tim Titus 
said he understood and appreciated medical patients' needs, but said 
the decision was a clear message that the town wanted to do things right.

As a former Paradise Unified School District board trustee, he sat in 
on many expulsion hearings regarding pot and said it is being abused 
in town. He said waiting to make an educated decision was the right 
call to protect individual rights. Councilman Joe DiDuca said he 
didn't care what people did if it didn't affect their neighbors, but 
outdoor grows did generate odor complaints.

"I don't care if you smoke couch stuffing," he said. "But don't let 
it affect (others.)"

Vice Mayor Scott Lotter said marijuana dispensaries can negatively 
affect neighboring businesses, which the council also has the 
responsibility to protect. Town Manager Chuck Rough said medical 
marijuana has been legal for 15 years, but has only recently become 
the big business that cities are now dealing with. While selling pot 
for profit is still illegal, the non-profit status of some places was 
questionable, councilman Steve "Woody" Culleton said.
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