Pubdate: Fri, 06 Jan 2012
Source: Colusa County Sun-Herald (CA)
Copyright: 2012 Freedom Communications
Author: Rick Longley


Informal interest in opening a medical marijuana dispensary in Orland
has prompted city officials to consider an ordinance that would
permanently ban such facilities.

The city's temporary emergency ordinance expired in the fall, and the
City Council wants to re-activate it until a permanent ban is approved.

Interim City Manager Gail Wingard sought direction on the policy
Tuesday because other cities are struggling with the opening and
closing of such facilities.

Orland enacted its temporary ban of dispensaries, collectives and
collaboratives two years ago while it waited to see how court cases in
other communities were decided.

However, the ban expired last fall as the city was changing its
attorneys, council members said.

City Attorney Greg Einhorn said the city has received informal
interest about a dispensary, but no formal application for a business
license has been filed.

The inquiry came three weeks ago, he said.

Councilman Bruce Roundy said the initial ban was approved for three
months and then extended up to 18 months - starting in 2009.

Former City Attorney Tom Andrews drafted the ban in response to a
request for a business license by a nonprofit organization seeking to
open a medicinal marijuana dispensary in Orland in the fall of 2009.

At that time, cities and counties were allowed to temporarily ban such
activities under health and safety codes, Andrews said.

California law permits these businesses under its compassionate use
law for medicinal marijuana with a doctor's recommendation, but
federal law still bans marijuana sales and use for any purpose.

Federal officials are threatening cities with litigation if they allow
dispensaries in their jurisdictions, Roundy said, so he believes the
city should have an ordinance against dispensaries to prevent a
federal suit.

His colleagues agree.

Councilman Dennis Hoffman said he is sure there are medicinal
marijuana users in the community, but they could go elsewhere to buy

Vice Mayor Charles Gee said the personal use provision is being abused
and the city should go for something that is defensible through
federal law.

Einhorn said the city should be able to regulate or ban these
activities through land-use regulations.

There is nothing in the city code to allow collectives to raise
plants, he said, for multiple people.

Cultivation for individual use is different, Einhorn

He characterized the intent of the temporary ban as dealing more with
the retail sale of marijuana through the dispensaries, but suggested
land-use ordinances could cover both that and collectives.

"There is a benefit in making the city's policy explicit," Einhorn
said. But he cautioned any prohibition could potentially conflict with
California law.

Interim Police Chief J.C. Tolle said his department is 100 percent in
favor of an ordinance.

Orland police regularly get complaints about odors from backyards
where medical marijuana is grown for individual use, he said.

However, rules might be put in place to protect neighbors from
marijuana nuisances, Roundy said.

"If you can see it or smell it, there could be punitive action for the
nuisance," Roundy said, based on what other communities are doing.

In fact, Glenn County is developing an ordinance regulating marijuana
plants for individual medicinal consumption.

However, the number of plants individuals may grow has yet to be
defined, Tolle said.

It has yet to be approved, but Planning Director John Linhart has
provisions in the draft where neighbors can seek action if the plants
can be seen or smelled from properties nearby.

The council directed Einhorn to bring back examples of defensible
marijuana codes and re-do the emergency ordinance at the next council

He added it might take some time to complete the nuisance portion
because of a fine schedule and definitions, but that could be worked
out separately from the emergency ban. 
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