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City fails to secure rights of medical marijuana users

By Hempology | August 30, 2007

Ledger Dispatch, CA
29 Aug 2007
Josh McCoy


Five people attended and no one raised objections at a Jackson City Council meeting on Monday that doomed lingering ordinances in the city code that allowed for marijuana dispensaries and promised higher water rates for about 2,000 customers.

Jackson City Manager Mike Daly recommended that the council repeal Ordinance 640 in the Jackson Municipal Code, that allowed for a medical cannabis clinic in Jackson, on the grounds that it is contrary to the federal Controlled Substances Act.  Council members unanimously agreed.  The new ordinance will be introduced in September, Daly said.

Though state law legalized the use of pot under medical supervision in 1996, Jackson and Amador County only made tentative steps in recognizing the law, passed as Proposition 215 in 1996 and implemented with Senate Bill 420 four years later.  Amador County issued medical identification cards but balked at issuing permits to businesses that dealt the drug. 

In 2004, the Jackson council adopted an ordinance that allowed for one business in the city, but parameters were so strict that only one party ever pursued the permit, and they were unable to find a landlord to house their dispensary.

Additionally, the Federal Drug Enforcement Administration recently notified approximately 150 landlords involved in the practice in Los Angeles that they were “aiding and abetting in the commission of a federal crime,” according to a memo provided to the city by attorneys in Fullerton.  The practice is nothing new, but federal efforts have intensified in a state that has flouted federal law for years, according to Daly.

“This doesn’t say anything about whether or not individuals with proper identification can use it, or whether or not they can grow it for themselves, or even whether or not it’s a good thing,” Daly said.  “It’s just an ordinance that relates to the business aspect ( of marijuana use ).”

Council members also approved a schedule to implement price hikes in water.

“It is anticipated that an increase of between 5 percent and 10 percent will be recommended for consideration,” Daly stated in a letter to the council.

The city purchases its water from the Amador Water Agency, which surprised the water department this year with a 22 percent price increase, with additional 12 percent increases the next two years, Daly said.

Vice Mayor Andy Rodriguez asked if a sliding scale increase could be affected for customers based on income, but Daly said that Proposition 218, which has changed the process for enacting assessments, effectively made that illegal.

“If you try to help one, you have to help them all,” said Councilman Al Nunes.

Property related fees, which include water, no longer require public votes of approval, but customers have to be notified 45 days in advance.  With this in mind, the council resolved to send out a public notice by Sept.  25.  A public hearing and council vote on the matter will be held Nov.  13.

The last time the city increased rates for its residential and commercial customers was in September 2004, when a 4 percent rate increase was approved.

The final issue under discussion was Senate Bill 375, currently being proposed in the state legislature, that would make numerous changes with respect to regional transportation and land use planning with the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, according to a memo presented by Daly.  After a brief discussion, the council voted unanimously to oppose the bill.

“We’re opposed to it the way it is,” Nunes said.

Daly said after the meeting that the city opposed the bill on issues of local control.

In a letter to Sen.  Darrell Steinberg ( D-Sacramento ), the council stated that the bill would “hold critical transportation funds hostage,” “erode local control,” and that it was too complicated and tried to accomplish “too much in too little time.”

The letter said that the city of Jackson is “very concerned with reducing greenhouse gas emissions” but that they are still in the process of developing and understanding last year’s Global Warming Solutions Act, Assembly Bill 32.

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