Pubdate: Thu, 17 Dec 2015
Source: Appeal-Democrat (Marysville, CA)
Copyright: 2015 Appeal-Democrat
Author: Eric Vodden


2 Dispensaries OK; Growing Marijuana Banned on 1st Reading

Two medical marijuana dispensaries could be allowed in Marysville 
following City Council support of an ordinance loosening restrictions 
for cannabis facilities in the city.

In a separate Tuesday night vote, the council also approved banning 
the cultivation of marijuana - giving one victory to cultivation 
opponents and one to dispensary supporters. Second readings of both 
ordinances must still be approved - likely on Jan. 19 - before the 
actions are final.

Council members voted 3-2 to approve the separate laws following a 
more than three-hour meeting before a divided audience in the packed chambers.

Mayor Ricky Samayoa was joined by council members Bill Simmons and 
Chris Pedigo in supporting both proposals. Councilmen Dale Whitmore 
and Jim Kitchen opposed both.

Samayoa said the ordinances come after new California regulations 
that increase state control of cannabis, but for the most part leave 
intact local agencies' ability to regulate medical marijuana. Noting 
that dispensaries are regulated by the state, he said the ordinances 
are about having control over cannabis use in the city.

"We aren't talking about recreational use," Samayoa said. "We are 
talking about the medical use of marijuana."

Simmons said Marysville in the past has found itself behind the times 
on other issues. He noted the ordinance "doesn't open the door to 
anybody who wants to come in."

"We have to move into the next century," he said. "It (legalization 
of marijuana) is going to come."

However, Whitmore agreed with some opponents who feared allowing 
dispensaries would draw marijuana users from throughout northern California.

"I do not want Marysville to become a marijuana mecca, and I would 
not support this ordinance," Whitmore said.

Whitmore also opposed the ordinance banning cultivation, saying he 
was against an exception in the regulation that allows indoor 
cannabis cultivation in connection with a dispensary.

The cultivation ordinance is modeled on Live Oak's that bans 
marijuana grows there. The state is requiring cities without existing 
cultivation ordinances pass regulations by March.

For the ordinance allowing two licensed dispensaries, a conditional 
use permit approved by the city planning commission and council would 
be required for specific applications. It also specifies distances 
from which dispensaries must be located from schools and parks.

Of 25 people who spoke during Tuesday night's public hearing, 13 were 
against less restrictive marijuana regulations. Frequent applause 
from one side or the other followed comments by speakers.

Medical marijuana proponents passed out slips of paper asking 
supporters to raise their hands "each time you hear (Buck Weckman or 
any other speaker) say what you believe to be a lie." Several 
audience members raised their arms during comments made by marijuana opponents.

Weckman, of the Families Against Cannabis Trafficking, said it 
appeared the council was crafting the dispensary ordinance to favor a 
couple of locations rumored to be potential sites. One is the old Del 
Pero Mondon meat packing plant on B Street and another is in the 
vicinity of Rideout Memorial Hospital.

"Is the city developing special zoning to meet a specific property?" 
Weckman asked the council.

Council members did not respond during the meeting, but Samayoa on 
Wednesday called the allegation "absurd."

"I guess people can make any comments they want," he said. "You just 
go with it. We appreciate people taking the time to come and comment."

What they told the council

Twenty-five people spoke for or against the Marysville ordinances 
during Tuesday night's public hearing before the City Council.

Zachary Cross of Loma Rica, one of those behind an initiative to 
overturn Yuba County's cultivation ordinance, praised the council for 
being "open-minded" about medical marijuana use.

"I hope you get a dispensary or two to finally get some tax revenues 
coming in," he said. "Thank you for looking to the future instead of the past."

Eric Lucas of Marysville told the council he uses medical marijuana 
to relieve pain.

"Cannabis users are people, too," he said. "Most people don't smoke 
it or don't use it to get high.

"If your perception is that everybody smokes it to get high, it's wrong."

Lucas said placing additional costs on dispensaries - such as a 
requirement to pay the annual cost of a full-time police officer - 
will drive up the cost of medical marijuana.

"You are going to price cannabis so I can't get it," he said. "You 
are requiring them to do so many things that it will increase the cost."

However, Gary Simpson told the council limiting marijuana is a matter 
of public safety. Simpson earlier identified himself as the brother 
of a Marysville man murdered during an alleged marijuana robbery.

"If we let people grow marijuana, they will get their doors kicked 
down," Simpson said. "It's not just about money for the city. It's 
about the people who are paying your salaries.

"We really need to put the focus on public safety. That's not what 
you are doing here."

Frank Cecil of Marysville referred to written material he said 
outlines that marijuana is dangerous to the brains and long-term 
development of youth.

"There is no question about that anymore," he said. "The true medical 
marijuana user is not the problem, but trying to separate the two is 
difficult and beyond the scope of what your police want to do."

Yuba County Supervisor John Nicoletti outlined the county's process 
of working with marijuana growers to develop a court-ordered 
cultivation compromise only to have growing "blow out of control."

"It blew out of control because there is not one type of marijuana 
user," he told the council. "Almost everybody focused on how to make a profit."

Nicoletti said Yuba County's initial less restrictive ordinance 
didn't result in revenues for the county, but rather drove up costs 
and overwhelmed employees involved in enforcement.

"The cost will be much greater than the income," he said.

Families Against Cannabis Trafficking, which supported a more 
restrictive marijuana cultivation ordinance in Yuba County, said in a 
Wednesday statement it is pleased with the growing ban in Marysville.

"However, their action to move forward with the establishment of two 
downtown commercial marijuana dispensaries and grow sites is 
saddening," the statement said.

It refers to fears expressed during the public hearing that 
Marysville will become a destination for marijuana users.

"It is hard to watch Marysville commit slow suicide."
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom