The City of Weed's ban on medical marijuana dispensaries will be strengthened if the city council adopts the ordinance passed by the planning commission last Wednesday.

The City of Weed's ban on medical marijuana dispensaries will be strengthened if the city council adopts the ordinance passed by the planning commission last Wednesday.

Commissioners voted 4-0 to add to city code a section prohibiting the siting of dispensaries in all zones within city limits.

If adopted by the council, any medical marijuana facility providing marijuana or its derivatives for medical purposes would be considered a prohibited use of the land, and may be abated as a nuisance.

With two other votes, Commissioners Richard Acquistapace, Paul Zwetsloot, Wes Dutt and Chairman Virgil Tuman agreed to ban all outdoor cultivation, and to continue to work on indoor grows.

During a discussion on the draft cultivation ordinance, Dutt said, "I agree with almost of all of it, except I would like to see a greenhouse added. I'm thinking of a permanent type of greenhouse. For people who choose not to have grow lights and all that." Dutt said he wanted to give those involved a second choice.

Zwetsloot said the types and structures of permissible greenhouses "or similar structures" would be addressed at the next meeting.

The actions took place before an audience of five, of which three people spoke. Two who support medical marijuana dispensaries in Weed pointed to economic benefits they would generate for the town.

"In California, there are over a half million medical marijuana card holders," said resident Jim Striegel. "They travel up and down I-5. They smile every time they see a sign that says Weed. They come and buy a t-shirt. I think that if there's a marijuana dispensary here, they might spend $50, $100, maybe $200 when they stop in the restaurants, stop in the shops. It's a huge source of revenue that should not be ignored."

He also cited medical benefits from marijuana use.

Lake Shastina resident Larry Roszkowiak said a dispensary would give him a reason to come to town. "I shop in Weed when I take my cat to the vet, once per year," he said. "I shop in Weed when I get a haircut, once per year. I shop in Weed when I mail my Christmas presents. Once per month, I go to Mount Shasta to buy my cannabis."

While there, he buys food, gasoline, and visits the shops, Roszkowiak said.

Weed resident Holly Hansard spoke against medical marijuana dispensaries. "I'm part of a group called Keep Off the Grass. Don't let Weed go to pot," she said. "I think that the message that we send to youth if we let Weed go to pot is really not advisable. There are doctors who will not prescribe it because they have done the research and seen that it's a highly addictive substance, classified as a Class I drug."

Hansard said that people who can obtain marijuana legally often pass it on to friends, including youth. She said she is sensitive to the smell of marijuana, stating, "I love this time of year. All my neighbors have finished their harvests and I can actually breathe."

Planning commissioners discussed points made by audience members and took input from Weed Police Chief Martin Nicholas and Sgt. Justin Mayberry before making their decisions.

Commissioner Zwetsloot said he checked with the City of Dunsmuir and was told they took in no money from their dispensary. "I asked how much tax do you get in? And [City Manager Brenda Bains] said they didn't get any."

Commissioner Dutt said he took a survey to gauge the community's attitude toward marijuana dispensaries. "I walked around town and took a very, very informal survey," he said. "I went to people's homes and asked them how they felt about having a dispensary in town – yes, no, don't care."

He said he started with the Bel Air area, and walked from Siskiyou Avenue to College Avenue. "Did a section by the high school," he said. "I did a portion over by Angel Valley. I got a good cross-cut of the whole community."

Dutt said his results showed about 40 of the people didn't want a dispensary in town. "Thirty-one percent said they did," he reported. "And about 28% said they didn't care."

City Attorney Robert Winston, who drafted the proposed dispensary ordinance, said he was inspired by a recent decision by the California Supreme Court. "It has endorsed a zoning approach," Winston told commissioners before their ruling. "It has approved an approach which would involve the planning commission saying we don't allow land to be used in a certain way, or we do allow it to be used in a certain way, which is within the jurisdiction of the planning commission."

The city currently bans dispensaries in town by refusing to issue business licenses, an approach based on federal law that prohibits the possession and sale of marijuana, according to Winston. He said, based on the court decision, he recommended to staff that the city revisit the dispensary issue.