Friday, September 18, 2009

Shasta County Rejects Moratorium on Medical Marijuana Dispensaries While Tehama County Approves It 4-1

Shasta County supervisors turn down medical marijuana moratorium

By Record Searchlight staff
Posted September 15, 2009 at 1:58 p.m.
updated September 15, 2009 at 5:17 p.m.

Shasta and Tehama counties went in opposite directions today as they
voted on 45-day moratoriums on medical marijuana outlets.

Shasta County supervisors rejected their attorney's recommendation
for the moratorium on medical marijuana outlets in unincorporated areas
while the Tehama County supervisors passed a similar measure 4 to 1.

The urgency ordinances would have halted issuance of use permits to
medical marijuana facilities to give the county staff time to collect
information and possibly suggest a new zoning ordinance for the co-ops,
County Counsel Michael Ralston said. The Shasta County moratorium could
have been extended for up to two years if warranted, he said.

The cities of Anderson and Shasta Lake already have passed similar

Shasta County Supervisor Les Baugh voiced his support for the moratorium
and opposition to the continued establishment of medical marijuana
collectives but the other supervisors weren't as eager to agree.

Supervisor David Kehoe questioned the necessity of an "urgency"

"What are we trying to stop here?" he asked. "What are we
trying to do?"

Several county department heads weighed in.

Director of Resource Management Russ Mull said he felt the moratorium
was a stall tactic and wouldn't accomplish anything.

"What you're looking at is a horse that has long been out of the
barn," he said.

Current zoning codes already in place should be able to adequately cover
medical marijuana facilities, he said.

Mull said the dispensaries can be placed under any number of zoning
descriptors that would prohibit them from being opened near schools or
other sensitive areas.

From a law enforcement standpoint, District Attorney Jerry Benito said
the laws on medical marijuana are ambiguous and therefore hard to

Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko said he supported the moratorium and
thought it could eliminate confusion within his department and other law
enforcement agencies.

"It's time to step back, see what the laws are and what other
communities have done in California," he said.

Kehoe said the sheriff's department should take action against any
illegal activity within medical marijuana outlets but didn't see how
the moratorium would solve any problems.

The board sent the matter to the county Department of Resource
Management for review and Mull said one of the first things the
department will do is notify a recently-opened collective in Cottonwood
that owners must apply for a use permit. Then the department will review
existing zoning code to determine if any areas need clarification or if
a new ordinance is needed, he said.

After the Shasta County supervisors' meeting Michael Vasquez,
secretary to the board of directors for medical marijuana collective
Trinity Gardens Inc., said he agreed with the county that some co-op
regulations need to be looked at.

"We're open to what the county has to say," he said. "We
don't want to see crime. We stay away from schools and other
institutions. "

In Tehama County, Supervisor Charles Willard cast the sole dissenting

Willard said he didn't understand the urgency of the matter. No
incidents have been reported to law enforcement regarding dispensaries
in the county's unincorporated areas, he said.

"Why are we rushing to do this when there aren't any issues
reported?" he said. "It's like a witch hunt."

Willard said the county shouldn't need a moratorium to conduct a
study on the issue, but the other board members felt differently.

"Very simply, there are zoning requirements for drug stores (and)
there are additional requirements for drugs stores," Board Chair
George Russell said. "The dispensary is considered a pharmacy. So I
felt it was reasonable that the topic be analyzed by the planning
department and others to determine what their thoughts are."

http://www.redding. com/news/ 2009/sep/ 15/shasta- county-superviso rs-turn-d\
own-nedical- mariju/

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