Monterey Bans Medical Marijuana Dispensaries
July 28, 2011
Monterey medical marijuana patients' dreams of a dispensary in their town went up in smoke Wednesday night, as City Council voted 3-2 to permanently ban dispensaries in all zones within city limits.
City Manager Fred Meurer says the turnout for the Council's special meeting was surprisingly low.
"Normally when we've held meetings on marijuana, we've filled the place," Meurer says, "but last night, there was hardly anyone." Those in attendance included a few patients, representatives from dispensaries in Santa Barbara and Santa Cruz, and an attorney with the Women's Alliance for Medical Marijuana, all of whom spoke in favor of the proposed ordinance to allow a single dispensary in Monterey's Industrial Administration and Research (I-R) Zone bordered by Garden and Ryan Ranch roads.
The Council was not on their side. Though Councilmembers Jeff Haferman and Frank Sollecito, who has been a medical marijuana proponent since losing his son to leukemia in 1990, voted for the ordinance, they were outnumbered by Mayor Chuck Della Salla and fellow Councilmembers Libby Downing and Nancy Selfridge. The Council voted in the same 3-2 split on a separate ordinance permanently banning dispensaries.
"I'm disappointed, but not surprised," says Richard Rosen, the Salinas-based lawyer for MyCaregiver Cooperative, Inc., the now-defunct medical marijuana cooperative that was raided by city inspectors in February after allegedly violating a court order to stop dispensing pot. That case is still being tried in Monterey Superior Court.
"When California's medical marijuana law was enacted in 1996, voters in Monterey County voted 2-1 in favor of it," Rosen adds. "This perpetuates the image of Monterey County as the county that thinks it's above the [state] law." While a number of cities across the state, including San Diego and Santee, have banned dispensaries, many nearby counties and localities - San Benito, San Francisco, and Santa Cruz, to name a few - have legal and regulated dispensaries where patients with a state-issued medical marijuana card can purchase pot.
Calls to Monterey City Attorney Deborah Mall were not immediately returned.
For more on medical marijuana in Monterey County, see the Weekly's June 16 cover story, "A Hazy Future."