Jun 23 2009

We got trouble, right here in River City

Posted by J. Craig Canada in Medical Marijuana

This interim ordinance is necessary in that there is a current and immediate threat to the public health, safety, or welfare, and that the approval of additional use permits, building permits, or any other applicable entitlement for medical marijuana dispensaries and production houses which are required in order to comply with a zoning ordinance would result in that threat to public health, safety, or welfare as discussed above.

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

The 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. One wonders if that wasn’t the point. 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.

Click for the proposed ordinance.

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