California -- Alameda County supervisors delayed a vote Tuesday on an ordinance that would regulate medical marijuana dispensaries in unincorporated areas.
Supervisor Nate Miley pushed for the two-week postponement to give the public more time to review the controversial ordinance. It calls for no more than five dispensaries — down from the current seven — in unincorporated areas of Castro Valley, Ashland, Cherryland and San Lorenzo, and enforces regulations on permitting, hours of operation, yet-to-be determined operation fees and other issues.
The ordinance is expected to come before the board again June 7 for a first reading and vote, but the delay will push the board close to a June 17 deadline set by Sheriff Charles Plummer, who has said he will start enforcing federal law and shut down the dispensaries unless the county has an enforceable ordinance in place.
In an interview after the meeting, Plummer said he's willing to extend the deadline, as long as supervisors take a vote in two weeks that demonstrates a good-faith effort to move ahead.
If the board doesn't pass the ordinance at the first reading, the department will move against the dispensaries, Plummer said.
Instead of taking a vote Tuesday, the board heard more than two hours of public comment and a wide variety of views on the proposed ordinance, including comment from Oakland resident Angel Raich, a plaintiff in a case before the U.S. Supreme Court that challenges the federal government's raids against medical marijuana dispensaries and patients.
Children's advocates, business owners and neighborhood association representatives lobbied for a tougher ordinance and fewer dispensaries. Many favored a plan suggested by Miley that would open a clinic at county-owned Fairmont Hospital in unincorporated San Leandro.
But medical marijuana patients and dispensary owners presented the other side, saying they support safe dispensaries close to home. Some speakers said the clinics are responsible business owners who are becoming scapegoats for other neighborhood problems.
But Miley — who has been working on the ordinance for two years — warned speakers that the board is fast approaching the sheriff's deadline. He grew frustrated with those trying to "poke holes" in the ordinance.
"It's beyond my ability at this point to fashion something that's going to please you all," said Miley, his voice rising in anger. If an ordinance isn't adopted soon, Miley said, "there won't be any dispensaries because the sheriff will shut them down."
Note: Sheriff may shut operations in unincorporated parts of county if ordinance not in place by June 17.
Source: Oakland Tribune (CA)
Author: Michelle Maitre, Staff Writer
Published: Wednesday, May 25, 2005
Copyright: 2005 MediaNews Group, Inc.