Pubdate: Thu, 15 Jan 2015
Source: Times-Herald, The (Vallejo, CA)
Copyright: 2015 The Times-Herald
Author: John Glidden


After two years of debate  and almost four hours of discussion 
Tuesday night  the Vallejo City Council finally made a decision about 
medical marijuana dispensaries operating within the city of Vallejo.

In a series of four motions, the council first decided in a 5-2 vote 
to shut down all MMDs in the city - even if they are compiling with 
the Measure C tax.

In 2011, city voters approved Measure C, which imposes a business 
license tax rate of 10 percent on the sales of medical marijuana 
products within the city.

According to a recent city staff report, 11 MMDs were maintaining an 
active tax certificate out of the 26 known to be operating within the city.

"This is not going to say that we are going to allow them or ban them 
but close all of them down now, period," said Vallejo Mayor Osby 
Davis before the vote on his motion.

"Even if you are going to regulate, we still have to shut them down," 
he also said.

Council member Robert McConnell stated that he couldn't support the 
motion without more information about the legal ratifications of 
shutting down all the MMDs.

McConnell and fellow council member Katy Miessner voted against the motion.

Then things became more interesting, as Davis followed up with 
another motion  to ban all MMDs inside the city, with Davis, Bob 
Sampayan, Pippin Dew-Costa and Jess Malgapo voting to ban.

Seconds after the vote, Sampayan informed the council that he had 
"erred in his vote."

"I can't let you err in your vote," Davis said to Sampayan. "I will 
let you vote again."

The former vice-mayor was the only one to switch his vote, causing 
the motion to go down in defeat 4-3, with Robert McConnell, Rozzana 
Verder-Aliga and Katy Miessner also opposed.

Many in attendance clapped loudly to the defeat of the motion, 
prompting Davis to address the crowd.

"I know you guys are excited but you know it will help us get through 
and get home if you guys don't interrupt with applause," said Davis 
as the council voted around midnight.

The council then unanimously approved a motion, proffered by 
McConnell, for city staff to bring recommendations back to the 
council on the regulation of MMDs inside city limits. The study 
session is expected to take place during the second meeting in March.

Davis then offered the final MMD motion of the night - to stop 
issuing Measure C tax certificates to new applicants and stop 
renewing certificates to MMDs which hold a valid tax certificate.

"I think that sends a double message," Davis said about shutting down 
all MMDs but still renewing tax certificates to MMDs which hold valid 
Measure C tax certificates.

After the motion was approved 6-1, with McConnell opposed, Davis 
addressed the crowd: "Now you can clap if you want to."

Prior to deciding the issue of MMDs in the city, the council heard 
from several speakers, ranging from citizens opposed to the 
dispensaries, lawyers who work on behalf of MMDs, to owners of MMDs 
operating inside the city, to property owners, and local religious figures.

Vallejo City Unified School District Superintendent Ramona Bishop 
also presented on the number of self-reported marijuana use from 
seventh-, ninth- and 11th-graders within the district.

Bishop said that 83 percent of seventh-graders last year never tried 
marijuana, with 63 percent of ninth-graders having never tried the 
drug, and 41 percent of 11th graders who self reported never 
partaking of the drug.

"When I talk with parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, it is 
the case that they are concerned," she said. "In many cases, they 
don't know where the drugs are coming from; we deal with it at in our 
high schools on a regular basis."

Late in public comment, Vallejo resident Jack Davis spoke about his 
use of medical marijuana.

"I have heart failure, Grave's disease, diabetes ... I have asthma 
and six herniated disc in my back and marijuana has saved my life," 
Jack Davis said as he addressed the council, leaning on a cane. "I'm 
just asking for the right to live, as everyone here."

Davis said that he couldn't afford other pain medication.

Prior to addressing the MMD issue, the council approved an agreement 
between the city, the county and the Humane Society of the North Bay 
for the improvement of animal services inside city limits.

"I just ask you to show the same compassion to me and to others in 
need as you showed to those poor animals," he said with his voice 
cracking with emotion.

According to staff, Measure C did not legalize the zoning of MMDs in 
the Vallejo Municipal Code and thus, in 2013 the council adopted a 
moratorium which stated that MMDs are not allowed in any zone of the 
city and new Measure C tax certificates would not be issued.

The moratorium was extended in April 2014 and was set to expire in April.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom