Pubdate: Thu, 19 Jul 2012
Source: Sacramento News & Review (CA)
Copyright: 2012 Chico Community Publishing, Inc.
Author: Nick Miller


Tuesday Meeting Also to Address Changes to City Ordinance officials 
Schedule Roundup to Discuss Federal Crackdown, Changes to City Rules, 
Pot-Growing Ban

It's been a while since the city council sat down, passed the gavel 
to the left and had a heady discussion about marijuana. So, while 
this upcoming Tuesday's powwow isn't "420" or a day of reckoning, 
it's still kind of a significant one for pot in Sacramento.

Four council members, the city's law-and-legislation committee, will 
meet on July 24, at 3 p.m., to look at the federal government's 
10-month-old crackdown on medical-marijuana in California. Council 
member and committee chairman Jay Schenirer has requested this 
sit-down, which will also include an update on the city's permitting 
process, which currently is frozen through November 2013, because of 
state court cases that might impact its legality.

Meanwhile, outgoing Councilwoman Sandy Sheedy wants to explore 
banning outdoor cultivation of medical marijuana in residential neighborhoods.

And revenue manager Brad Wasson also told SN&R of a potential change 
to the city's ordinance that could shut down most of its pot dispensaries.

The plan is to consider "increasing the proximity requirement from a 
school or a park to 1,000 feet" for dispensaries, he said. Currently, 
the city ordinance says clubs must be only 600 feet.

This distance, however, is a sticking point with state officials. 
And, of course, the federal government. So, it appears likely that 
the rule will evolve and ultimately force several, if not a majority, 
of dispensaries to either move or shut down.

Local activist Courtney Sheats, with medical-cannabis advocacy group 
Americans for Safe Access, says cities revisiting their ganja laws is 
a trend statewide. "With the recent [U.S. Department of Justice] 
crackdown, I think there are some cities and counties concerned about 
their medical-cannabis ordinances," she said.

She added that Sacramento is "operating in good faith" when it comes 
to the heart of its ordinance, which was passed in 2010.

Certainly, the city enjoys the tax revenue from medical-cannabis 
dispensaries, of which there are an estimated 18 still standing in 
the city limits. At one point, though, there were upward of 40-and 
Wasson noted that the city raked in more than $1 million this past 
fiscal year from its 4 percent dispensary tax.

"But the money's still coming in," Wasson added, "so from that 
aspect, it's good." He estimates that the city currently generates 
about $100,000 a month from the tax.

Sheats would like to see city leaders to come out publicly and 
vocally to support medical cannabis while the DOJ continues its 
enforcement campaign. Given that it's still taking clubs' tax dollars.

Meanwhile, the city's permitting program is still suspended, which 
means no new dispensaries can open, and no permits will be handed out 
to existing clubs (although they can still stay open).

Sacramento is waiting on a California Supreme Court's ruling later 
this year in the case of Pack v. Long Beach, which could possibly 
render its marijuana ordinance illegal.

But even if they could, would new dispensaries even want to open up 
in Sacramento?

"I can't answer that," conceded Sheats, "being that the climate 
changes every day-and sometimes many times during the day."
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom