Jun 23 2009

Santa Cruz considers medical marijuana dispensary moratorium

Posted by J. Craig Canada in Examiner.com, moratoriums, Santa Cruz

On Tuesday, June 23, at 3pm in City Council Chambers the Santa Cruz City Council will consider an Emergency Moratorium on Medical Marijuana Dispensaries.

The first public notice of this Emergency meeting was an article published in The Santa Cruz Sentinel on 21 Jun 2009.

The Agenda Report posted on the city’s website mentions that the city adopted land use regulations for Medical Marijuana dispensaries and production in 2000. This was four years after passage of the Compassionate Use Act of 1996. These regulations are Santa Cruz Municipal Code 24.12.1300

This code stipulates a special use permit is required to operate a dispensary. It also limits dispensaries to Community Commercial, Throughfare Commercial, and General Industrial districts. It further stipulates dispensaries may not be within 600 feet of: 1) another medical marijuana provider, 2) any public or private educational establishment serving persons under the age of 18 years, 3) a public park with a children’s playground, 4) an alcohol or other drug abuse recovery or treatment facility, or 5) any community care residential facility providing mental health/social rehabilitation services.

This 600 foot prohibition takes in pretty much the entire City of Santa Cruz.  The first dispensary to open, Greenway, had to request an exemption from the 600 foot requirement. The Agenda Report states the first club was approved in 2004. This was in error, it’s special exemption permit was approved 26 Jul 2005, almost ten years after passage of The Compassionate Use Act of 1996 and 5 years after the city enacted Municipal Code 24.12.1300. The city spent 6 months studying their application while they paid rent on a leased commercial space.

The current emergency threatening the health and safety of Santa Cruz appears to be that the city has two applications for dispensaries and that the Federal Government has declared it will not raid dispensaries compliant with state law in those states that have enacted medical marijuana exemptions.

The Agenda Report notes that the proposed 45-day moratorium will delay the processing of the two applications until it is lifted.

The Agenda Report further notes that if the 45-day moratorium is inadequate to complete their study they will extend the moratorium per Government Code Section 65858 for an additional 10 months and 15 days.

Don Lane told the Sentinel this is just to give the city council time to look at the existing regulations regarding dispensaries. Given the composition of the council approval of the moratorium is, most likely, a foregone conclusion. And given it took them six months to approve the first application, nearly ten years after the passage of The Compassionate Use Act of 1996, and the applicant was paying rent on a commercial space those six months, it also seems a foregone conclusion they will not be able to complete their review in 45 days.

Coincidentally, I ran across a video by CBS news of May 25th about adolescent boys developing breasts after taking Risperdal. One required a double mastectomy. A four-year old developed one breast and produced milk.

The real public health threat in this country is from pharmaceuticals. The Journal of the American Medical Association published a study in 1998 that concluded pharmaceuticals, as prescribed, are the 4th leading cause of death in this country.

The current regulations prohibit medical marijuana dispensaries within 600 feet of drug abuse treatment or recovery facilities and mental health facilities. This is nothing but reefer madness. Fred Gardner, who is the foremost chronicler of the medical marijuana movement, published a survey of doctors in Counterpunch of October 2006. According to this survey 30% of medical marijuana patients in California use it for depression and other psychiatric conditions. And not one of them ever shot up a schoolyard. Meanwhile, over 10% of America is on some kind of SSRI and 5% of those will experience manic psychosis as a result according to Fox News.  That works out to 1.5 million maniacs waiting to explode.  This same report states that 7 of the previous 12 school shooters were either on or withdrawing from an SSRI.

According to the survey of California doctors by Fred Gardner, 60% of cannabis patients in California use it for pain. They use it for pain because it works better than the opiates and to get off the opiates. If the city council is really serious about public health they would encourage medical cannabis use, and particularly for drug abuse treatment and mental health.  Instead they institute policies that force the poor and disabled to take methadone or oxycontin for pain in order to have a roof over their head.

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