Pubdate: Fri, 10 May 2013
Source: Record, The (Stockton, CA)
Copyright: 2013 The Record
Author: Scott Smith


STOCKTON - The city took its first step Thursday toward banning 
medical marijuana dispensaries less than three years after allowing 
them to legally open for business.

One dispensary, at Eastland Plaza on Wilson Way, which has yet to 
open, may survive the ban as long as its owners don't try to move to 
a new location, requiring a change to their city-issued permit.

The shifting position came as city staff - who oversaw the drafting 
of the highly publicized medical marijuana ordinance in 2010 - now 
fears Stockton, by condoning the businesses to operate, could be 
liable under increasingly stringent enforcement.

"The federal government has really come down on them now," Deputy 
City Attorney Guy Petzold said. "Stockton felt best to prohibit them."

The city's ban has yet to take effect.

In a first step, staff brought the proposed change to the Planning 
Commission, which voted 5-2 on Thursday in favor of supporting the 
recommended ban. It next goes to the City Council at an unspecified date.

Stockton on Sept. 23, 2010, approved the ordinance, allowing three 
permits to be issued to medical marijuana dispensaries - one for each 
of the city's 100,000 residents.

Debate crowded City Hall with supporters at the time.

The city ultimately issued two of the permits. Only one dispensary 
opened temporarily, at 1550 W. Fremont St. as Port City Health and 
Wellness. Then the landlord told the owners to move out.

The proposed ordinance change will not allow the third permit to be 
issued, and the city won't be able to change the permit allowing Port 
City to open at a new location.

Owners of the Eastland Plaza dispensary - to be called Collective 99 
- - will be grandfathered in and allowed to operate as the city's only 
dispensary - if it opens for business.

Sacramento lobbyist Max Del Real, who represents dispensary operators 
throughout the state, said a ban would force sick and dying medical 
marijuana patients into the black market on the streets.

He praised the ordinance Stockton crafted and adopted as a model. He 
fears its demise is now under way.

"I think what Stockton is doing is illegal," Del Real said. "There 
will be lawsuits filed."
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom