Pubdate: Mon, 05 Aug 2013
Source: Record, The (Stockton, CA)
Copyright: 2013 The Record


Last Thing City Needs Is Adding Medical Pot to List of Pressing Issues

The Stockton City Council's decision to ban medical marijuana 
dispensaries is proper given the yet-to-be-resolved conflict between 
state and federal pot laws, the city's energy-sapping bankruptcy, and 
the still-thin police ranks.

The city doesn't need another big issue on its table.

To some, of course, this is a step backward. Councilwoman Dyane 
Burgos said as much in casting one of two votes against the ban. As 
she noted, 21 states allow medical marijuana - including California - 
and two allow its recreational use.

But the conflict between federal law, which considers marijuana a 
Schedule 1 narcotic, and state law remains. Federal law enforcement 
has been spotty, to be sure, but the potential is always there.

Dealing with such a conflict could divert city staff time needed for 
more important issues, such as the on-going bankruptcy process.

Further, Stockton doesn't have enough police officers to deal with 
the crime it has today. Some calls for service go unanswered or are 
delayed because there are not enough officers on duty.

The experience in other cities is that crime tends to concentrate 
around marijuana dispensaries. If that happened here, it would add 
more pressure on police efforts.

The council's action last week reverses a 2010 ordinance allowing 
medical marijuana dispensaries. Two outlets will be grandfathered in 
under that ordinance. Two others are said to be operating without the 
benefit of the required city permits, itself an indication of the 
sometimes dicey nature of the marijuana dispensary business.

There could come a time when the city again reverses direction on 
this issue, as Councilwoman Kathy Miller said.

That time is not now.

Stockton has a lot of local issues to get past first.

As a nation we have to decide whether pot is for fun or for 
treatment. Our suspicion is that much that passes as medicinal use in 
reality is recreational use.

If we decide it's only for medicinal use, then it should be 
prescribed and dispensed in medical settings, not from warehouses or 
strip mall shops when someone presents a prescription obtained after 
an Internet interview by a faraway doctor.

If we decide it's for recreational use, then it should be available 
with at least as much control as we apply to cigarettes and alcohol.

Settling these issues extends well beyond Stockton's city limits.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom