By Reggie Ellis
Exeter has found a way to ban medical marijuana dispensaries without actually banning it.
At its Nov. 8 meeting, the Exeter City Council added a short but effective ordinance to its municipal code. Under the legal use of land chapter, the ordinance simply states “no use of land, under this title, shall be permitted within city limits if such use shall be in violation of any local, state, or federal laws.” City Attorney Steve Kabot said the ordinance was more legally defensible than an outright ban.
According to Americans for Safe Access (ASA), a grassroots coalition working to protect the rights of patients and doctors to use medical marijuana, 49 California cities have banned dispensaries, 21 cities and three counties have established ordinances regulating them, 14 cities and three counties have banned them, and six counties have passed moratoria on them until an ordinance or ban can be adopted by its board of supervisors.
At its Oct. 17 meeting, the Visalia City Council adopted an ordinance regulating hours of operation, signage prohibiting anyone under the age of 18, amount (8 ounces) allowed per patient, health warning labels on the package containing the marijuana; required the business to maintain a register of patients, employees, caregivers and records subject to inspection by the city planner. The ordinance stated that marijuana could not be sold nor smoked at the business or the surrounding area. It also prohibits a dispensary from having a liquor license, no commercial sales of any kind especially marijuana or related paraphernalia, and that the business shall meet any specific additional operating procedures and measures as may be imposed as conditions of approval by the city planner or designee to ensure that operations of the business is consistent with protection of the health, safety and welfare of the community…”
Fresno was one of the cities named in a lawsuit filed ASA for enacting an illegal ban on medical marijuana dispensaries. The lead plaintif William McPike, is suing Fresno with Americans for Safe Access (ASA), a medical marijuana organization concerned with what they contend are the illegal permanet bans passed by Fresno and 3 other California municipalities.
The lawsuit that Fresno is in violation of SB 420, passed by the California legislature in 2003 to clarify uncertainites in the Compassionate Use Act (CUA). Accoridng to the ASA lawsuit, cities and conties compelled by SB 420 implement way is which qualified patients and designated primary caregivers can obtain the full protection afforeded by the act.
Exeter’s ordinance would not be considered a ban on dispensaries because it does not attempt o regulate, prohibit or even mention them in the ordinance.