Green Gold Rush?
Is opportunity knocking for medical pot clubs? Or is that the sound of a slamming door?
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
The Monterey City Council voted four to one for a 45-day moratorium on medical pot clubs after hearing from a parade of mostly pro-pot speakers on Tuesday, Jan 19. Monterey is the fifth city in the county to establish a temporary ban on medical marijuana. It may, however, be the first to do so with the goal of making rules to allow dispensaries to operate in the city.
More than two dozen speakers demanded that the city welcome medical pot clubs while just three urged a ban. Many spoke movingly about how marijuana has eased the pain of multiple sclerosis or helped them cope with fighting cancer. Few in the nearly packed council chambers seemed to given credence to Police Chief Tim Shelby as he argued that pot shops are a magnet for armed robbers and burglars.
Others who addressed the council seemed to sense opportunity in medical pot.
Santa Cruz dispensary owner Lisa Molyneux, who said she was also a cancer patient, brought along two attorneys from high-priced Lombardo and Gilles, who offered their help to the city if it crafts medical pot regulations.
City manager Fred Meurer says officials have fielded calls from at least three dispensaries who have an eye on a Monterey location.
The council took up the medical marijuana matter after it discovered earlier this month that My Caregiver, a pot co-op, had opened on Lighthouse Ave in November unbeknownst to city officials. Last week, they ordered the club to shut down, but club officials are likely to defy the order and fight the city in court.
City Councilman Jeff Haferman cast the lone no vote on the moratorium. He said he didn't oppose the temporary ban, but wanted to ensure that My Caregiver could operate legally. "I was particularly moved by the people who are clearly suffering," he said, referring to speakers who said they depend on the dispensary to provide pain relief.
City Manager Fred Meurer says that he is awaiting word from the Fourth District California Court of Appeals on a case that could decide whether cities have the legal right to ban pot clubs outright. Meanwhile, he and other city officials will study regulations from other municipalities and consult the California League of Cities so that they can present the council with alternatives for dealing with medical marijuana before the moratorium expires.
The P.G. City Council is set to consider its own medical marijuana moratorium at its meeting Wednesday, Jan. 20 at 6pm.