Vacaville to mull prohibiting pot dispensaries

Allowing medical marijuana dispensaries is again up for discussion by the Vacaville City Council before an interim ordinance prohibiting the type of business expires.

During a public hearing Tuesday, the Vacaville City Council will consider adopting an ordinance to prohibit the operation of medical marijuana dispensaries within the city. An emergency interim ordinance, adopted nearly two years ago, will expire on May 25.

According to city staff, the council has three options, adopt an ordinance prohibiting medical marijuana dispensaries; adopt an ordinance permitting such establishment, but impose time, place and manner regulations on their operation and use; or allow the moratorium to expire without adopting follow-up legislation specific to medical marijuana dispensaries, relying instead on the city’s current zoning system.

Staff recommends prohibiting medical marijuana dispensaries.

Some of the key reasons, according to a staff report, include the time, difficulty and expense to ensure that the facilities comply with all laws, including those imposed by the city. Another reason to ban the dispensaries, according to staff, is the uncertainty between state and federal laws that would complicate and impede the effectiveness of local regulation.

Medical marijuana dispensaries include cooperatives, collectives and dispensaries. “They are illegal under federal law, and the question of whether cities and counties must allow these dispensaries under state law has yet to be decided by a state appellate court,” a staff report noted.

Staff also believes that allowing the dispensaries is likely to result in an increase in criminal activity and cause other adverse effects in the city, and that there is the possibility that the council and staff could incur potential criminal liability for aiding and abetting violations of federal and/or state law permitting medical marijuana dispensaries to operate within the city.
Advocates of medical marijuana argue that the Medical Marijuana Program Act and Compassionate Use Act prohibit cities and counties from imposing any criminal penalty for violating local medical marijuana ordinances.
The Vacaville City Council meets at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the City Council Chamber, 650 Merchant St.

via : The Reporter

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