Pubdate: Wed, 31 Jul 2013
Source: Record, The (Stockton, CA)
Copyright: 2013 The Record
Author: Scott Smith


Two Dispensaries Holding Permits Grandfathered In

STOCKTON - The City Council on Tuesday reversed an ordinance on
medical marijuana dispensaries, instituting a ban on pot businesses.

No dispensaries operate in Stockton legally today, but two of three
that already received permits from the city might survive the new ban
if they can negotiate with their landlords to open for business.

The council voted 5-2 in favor of the ban, with Mayor Anthony Silva
and Councilwoman Dyane Burgos opposing it.

"I just feel that banning it is going backwards," said Burgos, noting
that 21 states allow medical marijuana and two have laws making
recreational use legal. Silva joined Burgos' vote but said nothing on
the matter.

Councilman Elbert Holman, a retired police officer, took the lead
opposing the dispensaries. He said his beef was with the drug itself,
considered by the federal government to be a Schedule 1 narcotic and
highly addictive.

He added that Stockton's police force is already spread thin
investigating rapes, murders and robberies. Officers don't have time
to handle the influx of crimes he anticipated would emerge from the
infusion of medical cannabis, he said.

The California Chief Police Chiefs Association reports an increase of
crime in communities that allow dispensaries, he said.

"There have been serious adverse impacts," Holman said. "Don't fool
yourself. Google it. I did, and they are there."

City staff, which recommended the ban, said they feared being caught
in a legally ambiguous middle ground between California law, which
permits medical marijuana, and the federal government's

The City Council in 2010 held extensive meetings and hearings to craft
a medical marijuana ordinance that has become a model for other
communities. Yet the threat of federal action has increased, officials

City officials said they feared being held liable - even if remotely -
should the federal government crack down on Stockton dispensaries. As
the permitting agency, Stockton could become ensnared, they said.

Councilwoman Kathy Miller said she had voted in favor of the ordinance
in 2010, but the shifting political climate has caused her to also
reconsider her position.

She voted for Stockton's ban Tuesday night, with a

"It isn't closing the door forever," she said. "It's simply saying
that for now we're not going to have any more."

The two potentially viable dispensaries are Port City Health and
Wellness and Collective 99, which received permits but don't operate.
They will be grandfathered in despite the newly instituted ban.

Collective 99 plans to open at 678 N. Wilson Way in the Eastland Plaza
shopping center. Nobody from that prospective business came to the
council meeting to speak.

Port City had opened in a building at 1550 W. Fremont St. for about
five months in 2011. The building is in foreclosure, leaving the
business' fate in limbo.

Michael Carlson, executive director of Port City, came to urge the
council not to take the restrictive path, as did M. Max Del Real, a
medical marijuana lobbyist who represents Port City.

"While Stockton retreats on the issue of medical cannabis, others
cities are embracing it today and the taxes they generate," Del Real
said after the meeting, citing Sacramento as an example of a
permissive city.

In its short existence, Port City paid Stockton $29,000 in taxes to
the city's general fund, Del Real said, adding that the business
employed 20 people. Port City hopes to reopen within six months, he

While Stockton moved to ban the two dispensaries that tried to work
within the law, at least two more illegal operations have sprouted up
undetected by city officials, Del Real said.

Today, he said, he intended to find them and make city officials aware
of their existence.

In other business before the City Council on Tuesday, Mayor Silva
pulled off the agenda an item recommending his appointments to the
city's Climate Action Advisory Committee.

Environmentalists had bristled upon seeing Silva's selections. The
mayor withdrew the item without explanation, but he said after the
meeting that he wanted to reconsider his picks before asking for the
council's ratification.

"I want to have a chance to review it with the city attorney," he
said. "And I want to review all the written correspondences and
emails. I want to dot my i's and cross my t's."
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