Thursday, April 9, 2009


Donna Tam/The Times-Standard
Posted: 04/08/2009 01:23:35 AM PDT

Eureka will not be following in Arcata's medical marijuana footsteps anytime soon.

The Eureka City County Tuesday night voted three to two not to look into the possibility of creating a medical marijuana dispensary ordinance.

In the absence of Councilman Jones, Mayor Virginia Bass was the deciding vote against the measure, saying that the issue needed to be discussed at a later time.

Bass's comments about the abuse of medical marijuana and the need to address the issue of illegal grow houses echoed those of Councilmembers Frank Jager and Jeff Leonard.

"I would say that the first thing we need to work on is these grow houses and work on it right away, and put a stop to that before we have a discussion about medical marijuana," Jager said.

Councilwoman Linda Atkins, who initiated the discussion about the ordinance, said the matter is a compassion issue as well as a fiscal issue. She said she just wanted to direct staff to look into the possibility of coming up with a responsible form of regulation.

"The only way we're going to stop people from growing marijuana in houses illegally is to enforce a code," she said.

Representatives from established medical marijuana cooperatives in Arcata came forward to offer their assistance in creating an ordinance.

The council did approve of a motion by Councilman Larry Glass to expand the duties of an already existing task force to look at how to address the problem of grow houses in residential areas, separate from regulating medical marijuana.

The council also unanimously supported the planning commission's decision to deny the proposal for a general plan amendment of property on Dolbeer Street.

Applicant John Vitale, who had applied to have the zone changed to be appropriate for medical services, asked the council to allow him to meet with the residents and create mitigation measures, but the council felt the concerns of residents in the area were valid.

Nearly a dozen residents spoke out against the zoning change, citing traffic concerns. Many questioned the necessity of having additional property for medical services while there is presently other property already zoned as such that is unused.

The council encouraged Vitale to come up with concrete mitigation methods if he chooses to propose the amendment again.

In other matters, the council approved a Safe Route to Schools grant application, accepted $1 million in stimulus funding for street improvements and approved the designation of a lot on California and 15th streets as a community garden and orchard while authorizing staff to apply for a grant and also communicate with the groups that also occupy the lot.

Donna Tam can be reached at 441-0532 or

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