Source: Sacramento Bee (CA)
Author: Jennifer K. Morita -- Bee Staff Writer
Published: Wednesday, May 19, 2004
Copyright: 2004 The Sacramento Bee
Contact: [email protected]
Four months after Roseville's first medical marijuana store opened its doors, city officials are looking at regulations that would limit others from setting up shop.
"If I can do something to remove this from our community, I'm going to do it," Mayor F.C. "Rocky" Rockholm said. "But if we have to have them, then we need to control them."
The Roseville City Council today will consider enacting an emergency ordinance restricting where medical marijuana stores could open and how they could operate.
Based on proposed zoning rules, shops would be allowed in only two areas of the city - across from the Galleria mall or an industrial area in old Roseville.
A state law enacted last year attempted to clarify a voter-approved initiative that allowed people to use and cultivate marijuana for medical purposes. However, local jurisdictions were left with the responsibility of coming up with their own guidelines for regulating sales.
Elk Grove and Citrus Heights recently established restrictions.
When Richard Marino opened Capitol Compassionate Care in Roseville's historic district last January, however, all he needed was a standard business license to set up shop.
Caught off guard, the city had no choice but to issue Marino a license.
Since then, Roseville police spokeswoman DeeDee Gunther said, several other groups have inquired about opening marijuana dispensaries in town.
"One reason that made Roseville especially attractive was that we didn't have any regulations, unlike Citrus Heights and Elk Grove," Gunther said. "So we decided it was time."
The proposed ordinance, classifying medical marijuana shops as "sole-source pharmacies," would permit them to operate only in some commercial and industrial areas.
They would have to be at least 500 feet from churches, schools, parks, homes and other sole-source pharmacies such as methadone clinics.
In addition, special permits would require operators to provide police with identifying and historical information about themselves, employees and any independent contractors.
"We're just trying to make it as safe and legal as possible within the constraints of the existing state law," Gunther said.
The ordinance also would:
* Limit operating hours to 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
* Require records be maintained for all patients and primary caregivers, using identification card numbers issued by the Placer County health department.
* Require notice stating that no marijuana may be smoked, ingested or consumed on the premises.
* Limit possession to no more than 8 ounces of dried marijuana per qualified patient, and six mature or 12 immature plants per patient.
* Prohibit use of any drug paraphernalia.
Proponents of medical marijuana caution that some regulations are a way for jurisdictions to stop the businesses from opening at all.
"It makes sense for cities to have some sort of regulations," said Dale Gieringer, coordinator for the California National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws. "But usually what I see happening is the regulations are made to discourage or prevent certain operators from doing business. Some regulations make sense and others don't."
For instance, some cities require operators to list their marijuana suppliers, making it impossible to open for business.
"Everybody knows growers are not going to incriminate themselves in that way," Gieringer said.
Roseville's proposed ordinance requires the identification of "independent contractors," which Gunther said is only meant for anyone working on the premises.
Zoning restrictions could make it difficult for shops to open even in areas where they're allowed. Commercial space around the Galleria is pricey, and parts of the Washington Boulevard and Industrial Avenue areas are near homes and parks.
Gieringer and Sacramento medical marijuana advocate Ryan Landers expressed concern about the proposed limit on business hours and inability to sell paraphernalia such as vaporizers and pipes.
"We can't provide or demonstrate safe means for using marijuana," Landers said. "You're forcing people to go to head shops, and we have so many people, especially the elderly, who don't want to go to the back room of some store that sells glass pipes."
Overall, however, Landers said Roseville's proposed ordinance was fair and protects patients' anonymity.
"I don't want the community impacted by this in a negative way, but I also know that it doesn't have to," Landers said. "It's a very tough job to balance protecting the community and the needs of a seriously ill person who needs the medicine to help them."
Although zoning restrictions specifically prohibit shops from opening in the city's historic district, Capitol Compassionate Care will still be allowed to operate in Old Roseville, Gunther said.
"It's been fairly quiet over there," Gunther said. "The surrounding businesses haven't complained. So far, he seems to be running a pretty orderly place."
Marino will have to comply with the new operating rules and has 90 days to apply for a permit.
Capitol Compassionate Care manager Alicia Tribulato said she thought the proposed ordinance is "very reasonable."
"They're just looking out for the best interests of the city," Tribulato said.
Rockholm, however, said he's opposed to any marijuana dispensaries opening in Roseville.
He said cancer and AIDS patients can get prescriptions for Marinol - a pharmaceutical pill that uses a synthetic form of THC and eases symptoms such as nausea, vomiting or loss of appetite.
"Based on my experience as a cop, people smoke pot and then get into an automobile and drive and that puts us all at risk," said Rockholm, a retired police sergeant. "The stuff today is so much stronger than it was 20 years ago.
"I just don't think these (medical marijuana shops) are a benefit to our community."
Related Articles & Web Sites:
Medicinal Cannabis Research Links
City Adds Medical Pot Restrictions
Planners Blast Council on Pot Plan
Council Restricts Medical Pot Sale
The Pot Shop - Roseville Press-Tribune