Pubdate: Sat, 26 Mar 2011
Source: Paradise Post (CA)
Copyright: 2011 Paradise Post
Author: Paul Wellersdick
Cited: Paradise
Bookmark: (California)


Recommendation Expected in May

About 50 people showed up at Town Hall for Thursday night's public 
forum voicing concerns about the Town of Paradise's proposal to 
regulate medical marijuana.

Vice mayor and member of the committee handling the medical marijuana 
issue, Steve "Woody" Culleton said he had hoped to see more people at 
the forum.

"I was really surprised," he said. "I thought it would be packed."

But Culleton said those intimidated by public speaking can still tell 
the town about their wants or concerns about the town's proposal. The 
town is taking comments by any available means including in person, 
by U.S. mail, e-mail or fax. The Town of Paradise is now under an 
emergency moratorium that temporarily bans the establishment of 
marijuana dispensaries and collective grows. The idea behind the move 
was to allow time to draft zoning ordinances to curb any potential 
problems with the controversial subject.

The moratorium can last up to 10 and a half months, but town hopes to 
have an ordinance drafted by May. The next step in the process is for 
the committee to draft a proposal and submit it to the Paradise 
Planning Commission sometime in April. Town Manager Chuck Rough said 
it might be an ambitious goal to make the regular meeting April 19, 
and the item may require a special session later that month.

The Town Council is expecting to see a recommendation from the 
planning commission at its regular May 3 meeting. The town is hoping 
to use land-use law to govern three areas of medical marijuana 
activity, Rough said.

Those three areas are individual marijuana use by single patients 
with a "125 certification," collectives or cooperative grows by two 
or more people, and dispensaries, which are like non-profit marijuana 
stores, he said. Most comments were concerned with restricting 
people's access to their medicine, both Culleton and Rough said.

In the roughly one-hour meeting, Culleton said he counted about 10 
speakers when the comment period opened following an introduction. 
One common theme by those operating dispensaries or collectives 
elsewhere, was that if the town were to restrict the legal location 
of such facilities they should be easily accessed by the disabled 
that need medicine.

One thought was to have the legal zones on bus routes, Culleton said. 
Culleton said Town Attorney Dwight Moore's opinion is that the law 
doesn't allow dispensaries.

"I've read the law, cooperatives are in there, but nowhere in there 
does it authorize dispensaries," Culleton said.

There are no dispensaries in town, but Police Chief Chris Buzzard and 
Sgt. Steve Rowe talked about some real problems with medical 
marijuana grows in Paradise, including the still-unsolved 2008 
killing of 50-year-old Eric Jones at his Azalea Lane home, Rough 
said. Those speaking against medical marijuana brought up concerns 
about home invasions and the skunk-like odor of the plant and drug. 
Culleton and Rough both said that despite differing opinions, the 
forum was civil and went smoothly.

Culleton said he knows of people who abuse the law, but said none 
were at Thursday's meeting.

"I know a bunch of people with cards because of headaches, because 
they want to smoke dope and not get busted, but none of them were 
there," he said.

Some have been under the impression that the town is trying to change 
the law or the precedents set by legal challenges, but it isn't true, 
Culleton said.

"Part of our mandate is not to create regulations," he said. "We're 
not out there to change the law or get rid of (Proposition) 215."

"(We have an obligation) to protect both people - people that 
legitimately have prescriptions, and to protect the citizens' rights 
against home invasions and smell and the other problems related to 
medical marijuana," he continued.

Rough said he has never been to a marijuana dispensary or collective, 
but said he and the committee would be taking a field trip to investigate them.

"I've personally never been in one so I don't know what it's like," Rough said.

Those interested may contact Town Manager Chuck Rough at 872-6987 or 
can e-mail him at  Or mail can be sent to 
Town Hall, 5555 Skyway Paradise CA, 95969. The Planning Commission, 
established by ordinance to serve as an advisory board to the 
Paradise Town Council, holds one regular meeting on the third Tuesday 
of each month at 6 p.m. at the Town Hall, 5555 Skyway.

The Paradise Town Council meets at Town Hall 6 p.m. each first 
Tuesday of the month.  
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