Source: Sacramento Bee (CA)
Author: Kim Minugh -- Bee Staff Writer
Published: Friday, June 18, 2004
Copyright: 2004 The Sacramento Bee
Contact: [email protected]
Rocklin officials shut the door to medicinal marijuana stores Thursday, likely becoming California's first city to opt for prohibition over regulation. In recent months, other cities in the Sacramento region - including Citrus Heights, Elk Grove, Roseville and Auburn - decided to regulate the location and operation of marijuana dispensaries. So far, a few medical marijuana stores have opened, including one in Roseville and one in Colfax.
But in an emergency session Thursday, Rocklin's elected officials said they were concerned about what a medical pot store might do to the town's atmosphere. They voted 5-0 for the outright ban that went into effect immediately, although it is good for only 45 days.
An ordinance proposing a permanent ban is to go before the Planning Commission and City Council for approval, and public hearings will be held.
Councilwoman Kathy Lund explained that Rocklin and its neighbors hold strong family values, saying that 80 percent of families in Placer County are two-parent families vs. 31 percent in Sacramento County.
"We're moving (toward a family environment), and I think this (allowing marijuana stores) is counter to that," she said.
Vice Mayor Peter Hill said that the trappings sometimes associated with marijuana stores - such as street dealers loitering outside the building and drug use in the area - are inconsistent with Rocklin's highly educated, high-income population.
"We have spent years and years trying to do things in Rocklin that favor a family community," he said. "Introducing this into our community, even with the proper controls, (will lead) to the kind of trouble we don't want."
George Magnuson was the only council member with hesitations about the ban. He said ailing people should have the opportunity to better their quality of life, even if that means smoking marijuana.
"To live with dignity and die with dignity is not a bad thing for people to consider when looking at these regulations," he said.
But Magnuson said Rocklin's proximity to a medicinal marijuana shop in Roseville gave him peace of mind in voting for the ban.
"(Patients) do have relief available to them," he said. "I think that availability makes a big difference in my decision today."
Rocklin's action came just a day after a Stockton resident asked city employees about opening a store in the south Placer County city. Unlike other cities in the region, Rocklin had not enacted specific regulations.
The city posted a notice of the emergency meeting at City Hall on Wednesday and notified the media. At the 11:30 a.m. Thursday meeting, few members of the public attended. One who did was Doug Hallum, the Stockton resident who had asked about the store. Afterward, he said he thought the City Council members used Roseville's store as an "excuse" for keeping a similar store out of their community.
Council members all questioned the legality of their ban, as well as the legality of the state law implemented by the 1996 passage of Proposition 215. That law protects from criminal prosecution critically ill patients whose doctors recommend the use of marijuana.
A law passed last year clarified the limitations of Proposition 215 but left local jurisdictions to determine how to regulate marijuana sales.
Rocklin Police Chief Mark Siemens and City Attorney Russell Hildebrand explained that there are stark discrepancies between state law and federal law, which continues to outlaw the sale, use and possession of marijuana.
Hildebrand said he considered the city's new ban "defensible," particularly because it would not apply to some dispensaries sanctioned by state law, including licensed residential care facilities for people with chronic illnesses.
"I would never consciously bring you something I didn't think we could defend," he said.
Hildebrand cautioned, however, that the move likely would attract attention and possibly a lawsuit.
"There's always a litigation risk," he said.
A risk Rocklin might come to know soon, said Ryan Landers, state director for the American Alliance of Medical Cannabis.
Landers said that Rocklin is the first city in California he knows of to enact such an ordinance and that "many, many, many" other cities had opted for regulation.
"Most communities are willing to work (with business owners) and willing to cooperate," Landers said.
He said Rocklin's blanket ban is discriminatory, illegal and dangerous for patients who might be forced to seek help from street dealers.
"If you outright ban it, you're just driving it underground," Landers said.
The debate over medicinal marijuana stores began locally in January, when Capitol Compassionate Care opened in downtown Roseville.
Because the city had no laws regarding such stores, the proprietor could open his simply by obtaining a business license - and without most city officials' knowledge of the nature of the business.
The City Council later crafted regulations that would apply to any future dispensary applicants.
Although the Roseville store has posed no major disturbances for the community, Mayor F.C. "Rocky" Rockholm said Rocklin did what he wishes he could've done in his city.
"If they can stop theirs from coming in, the more power to them," he said.
Hallum said he will continue pursuing the issue, by litigation if necessary.
"I'm going to do whatever I can to make this happen," he said.
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