Pubdate: Wed, 09 May 2012
Source: Times-Herald, The (Vallejo, CA)
Copyright: 2012 The Times-Herald
Author: Jessica A. York


Even the threat of potential federal criminal prosecution did not 
stop several Vallejo City Council members from advocating efforts to 
begin regulating the city's medical marijuana industry.

The council, however, in a discussion similar to several on the issue 
in recent months, stopped short Tuesday night of pushing for 
instituting regulatory laws immediately.

Deputy City Attorney Alan Cohen reviewed potential legal issues 
facing the city in pursing its paused two-year-old plan to regulate 
medical marijuana.

The item was informational only, as several medical marijuana 
regulation-related cases are pending before the state Supreme Court.

"The state of the law is just so unsure right now that there's almost 
nothing the city can do ... without significantly exposing itself to 
litigation ..." said Cohen. He added that he had discovered a 
"shocking" footnote that lawmakers setting medical marijuana 
regulations could open themselves to criminal prosecution.

Resident Morgan Hannigan said the City Attorney's report to the 
council was "dealing with the same issues of cowardice" of previous 
reports and criticized the city for being "so litigation-averse."

Another dispensary operator estimated that there are only three or 
four dispensaries left operating in the city, following a series of 
recent police raids. Six raids have been held against five 
dispensaries since Feb. 21, the most recent last Friday.

Councilwoman Marti Brown said she shared the frustration of several 
pro-regulation supporters concerning lack of clarity on the issue and 
suggested they speak to state legislators. The council's "hands are 
clearly tied, " Brown said, adding that the city is short on both 
staffing and fiscal resources, in the wake of its recent emergence 
from bankruptcy court.

When Councilmembers Erin Hannigan and Bob Sampayan asked if the city 
could impose minimal dispensary operation hours and locations in the 
city, they were warned against doing so. Councilwoman Stephanie Gomes 
suggested the city should begin investigating regulations while the 
court cases are pending, so they may be immediately rolled out if the 
green light is given.
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