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Petaluma maintains ban on pot dispensaries

By SAM SCOTT
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Petaluma Mayor David Glass says that three months ago he might well have voted for lifting his city’s ban on marijuana dispensaries.

He has no doubt medical cannabis helps some and has the support of many more.

But times have changed. When the topic of lifting the ban arose at Monday’s City Council meeting, Glass told the audience his views had been tempered by the recent federal crackdown on the state’s medical marijuana industry.

“I believe the people want it,” Glass said. “I just don’t think at this time, in this environment, it’s the right thing to do because of the risks that are there.”

With one member absent, Glass’s decision left the council at a 3-3 impasse, keeping the 4-year-old ban secure.

“Until the mayor changes his mind or we get different people on the council, it will stay status quo,” said Councilman Gabe Kearney, who believes lifting the ban would bring in additional tax revenue that could be used to prevent substance abuse.

Glass’s change in perspective highlights the influence of the ongoing federal crackdown. On Oct. 7, the state’s four U.S. Attorneys announced an aggressive campaign against scores of dispensaries and growers, painting them as illegal profiteers.

“The California marijuana industry is not about providing medicine to the sick,” Laura Duffy, the San Diego-based U.S. Attorney, said at the time. “It’s a pervasive, for-profit industry that violates federal law.”

Agents armed with assault rifles and chainsaws raided Northstone Organics near Ukiah soon after the announcement, despite its sheriff’s permit to grow medicinal pot.

In Fairfax, the Marin Alliance for Medicinal Marijuana, the oldest dispensary in the state, got hit with a letter threatening additional penalties for selling drugs within 1,000 feet of a park.

The landlord was ordered to evict the pot club or risk imprisonment, plus forfeiture of the property and all rent collected from the dispensary. Marin Alliance shut down Sunday.

So far dispensaries and growers in Sebastopol, Santa Rosa, Cotati and unincorporated Sonoma County have escaped federal attention. But many attached to the industry have been jolted, and the gap between federal and state laws has seemed ever greater, some said.

“In general the cities and the counties have become confused in knowing what the truth is,” said Robert Jacob, executive director of Peace in Medicine Healing Center, which operates a pair of dispensaries in Santa Rosa and Sebastopol. “We really need to look to the state Attorney General’s office and the Legislature to clarify state medical cannabis laws.”

Despite the federal crackdown, Sonoma County has continued to refine its marijuana regulations, recently proposing to cap the dispensaries at nine and forming a stakeholders group composed of marijuana advocates and officials to look at new regulations on growing medicinal pot.

Supervisor Shirlee Zane said the conflict between state and federal laws highlighted the dysfunction in the system.

“As long as federal prohibitions and state law oppose one another, we are going to continue to have these problems,” she said.

If Washington does change the law, Glass said he would favor bringing a proposal to lift the ban back for quick consideration.

But if a Democratic administration has taken a get-tough approach, it’s unlikely a Republican one would be any more forgiving, he said.

“What if the election brings us a change in the White House?” he said. “What if the election brings us a change in the Senate as well? I can’t think that it gets better anytime soon in that scenario.”





10 Responses to “Petaluma maintains ban on pot dispensaries”

  1. Beef King says:

    So David Glass gets on his knees for the powerful and hateful Obama?
    No surprise.

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  2. RAW says:

    Let’s see. Criminals are criminals are criminals. These people were criminals before and, at heart, are still criminals. If they can’t get money growing it, they will wait until harvest, kick in the door of the local grower, put a gun in their face and take it. Sometimes they kill them. Why? Back to the first point, they are criminals. I do not begrudge anyone neccessary medicine. To hear the what people say they claimed to get their medicinal “card”, it is clearly a joke and the joke is on the voters who were duped into legalizing it. SMART will cost more, but the duped are trying to fix that.

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  3. Canthisbe says:

    Free marijuana for all would reduce illegal immigration since there would not be as many illegal immigrants growing marijuana in the North Cal state and federal forests; would reduce Obama’s fascist police raids by eliminating some of SWAT team drug busts and wouild probalby help bring world peace as it would remove billions of $$ from criminal enterprises. Don’t know about baldness and obesity. Not quite as much sense as those advocating decriminalizing marijuana, but close enough.

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  4. Fed Up says:

    Free marijuana for all! It will end illegal immigration, baldness, Obama’s fascist police raids, obesity and bring world peace.

    Doesn’t all that make some sense?

    It makes as much sense as those pushing for legal pot.

    Thumb up 3 Thumb down 6

  5. Social Dis-Ease says:

    Our cannabis laws are absolutely ridiculous.

    The misleading Prop. 19 legislation is typical of our fascist landscape.
    If it can’t be monopolized by a corporatocracy, then they’d rather criminalize it.
    Then instead of the public realizing the benefits (including the tax revenue), we’ll waste $50.K a year to incarcerate people trying to fill a need in the worst economy of our lives,

    In the mean time, they keep the law ambiguous so they can inflict maximum damage.

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  6. Commonsense says:

    If mj is a medicine requiring prescription, then it seems reasonable that is should be dispensed in the same manner as other prescription drugs, but it’s not, instead people are allowed to grow it and sell it from their own backyard. They can do that because it’s not a medicine in terms of a curative effect. It’s more similiar to a drug to dull pain or discomfort. Quite frankly, mj should be treated just like alcohol, as most of those who use it do so for recreational purposes (and there shouldn’t be a problem with that).
    It seems to me much of the current issues have been caused by those in the legal field, medical field and government, who saw an opportunity for some large profits. While there is nothing wrong with that in general, lets not try and make it something it’s not, a medicine.

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  7. RE: Where's Harris? says:

    Why is it that every time there’s a controversial vote, Mike Harris is absent? Just wondering. Seems to be a pattern. He probably would have voted against – and with the current crackdown, there are indeed some concerns. However, the fact remains that Petaluma IS losing revenue on this to neighboring cities, who evidently are seeing a benefit otherwise they too would ban dispensaries. Petaluma remains one of the only cities in Sonoma County to ban dispensaries yet it hasn’t meant a thing to illegal marijuana growers….other than the fact that we receive zero tax revenue and still incur enforcement expenses. Sorry Glass voted this way, while I do understand some of his rationale for doing so.

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  8. Kim says:

    If a dispensary is allowed in Petaluma and the Feds come in and bust it how is that going to effect even a hair on Mayor Glass’ head?

    Thumb up 9 Thumb down 5

  9. jxn says:

    Screw the DEA and unjust marijuana prohibition

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  10. Patrick says:

    Don’t be a wimp, Mr. Glass. Let the dispensaries open.

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