Before re-visiting the possibility of opening a medical marijuana dispensary, a divided Weed City Council decided to hear a report from two of its members about the conference they will attend next month on marijuana regulation and safety.
Supporters and opponents of allowing medical marijuana sales within the city limits attended Thursday’s night’s council meeting, which included an agenda based on a citizen request to permit the sales. Public comment was limited to 10 minutes per side.
After the discussion, the council voted 3-2 to table the item until councilors Kim Greene and Bob Hall report back from a Marijuana Safety and Regulation Act symposium they volunteered to attend Jan. 13 in Sacramento. Greene and Hall voted in favor of the motion as did Ken Palfini, who was chosen as Weed’s new mayor earlier in the meeting. Councilors Stacey Green and Chuck Sutton opposed the motion.
Sutton had earlier made a motion to put discussions about medical marijuana sales to bed and quit taking up staff time until the state issues a mandate forcing them to act otherwise.
That motion failed by a 2-3 vote with Hall, Greene and Palfini opposing.
Those in support of allowing a dispensary to open claimed it would bolster the economy and provide safe access to people who rely on cannabis as medicine.
Opponents pointed out that cannabis is still federally illegal, and many referred to the November 2014 advisory vote in which nearly 55 percent of the Weed citizens who cast a ballot opposed permitting the licensing of medical marijuana dispensaries in Weed.
In addition to creating jobs at the dispensary itself, supporters claimed allowing medical cannabis sales in Weed would boost sales at local hardware and landscaping shops.
Certified addictions nurse Mary Beth Granberry urged councilors to look toward the future, saying “it’s not about addiction, it’s about resources and finance. If you want to grow the City of Weed, bring young people here.”
Similar sentiments were expressed by Weed resident Raymond Strack and Siskiyou Alternative Medicine President Wayne Walent.
After offering his assistance to council on matters of education, legislation, and the future of state laws, Walent said, “We want to help you move into the future and do what’s best for everybody in the City of Weed.”
Strack said, “California has been ahead of the curve so far, so why stop now?”
In opposition, many people expressed frustration that the council was considering the idea even after it was voted down last year.
“You came and asked,” said Sue Tavalero. “If you asked me my opinion, one would expect you would go with it.” She asked council who would be benefitting from the sale and what message it would send to the high school students being taught to resist drugs.
“I don’t think you should disregard the will of the people and just do this because the pot pushers want to push it,” said citizen Holly Hansard.
Marilyn Blankenship said, “Shame on you for even considering this.”
The owner of Casa Bella Hair Salon said she is concerned the presence of a dispensary would degrade her business.
Councilor Bob Hall said, “I’m against personal attacks and think we’re trying to throw the baby out with the bath water here.”
He acknowledged that Weed tried to create a cultivation ordinance and, “messed it up” because it was very difficult to enforce.
Hall volunteered to attend the symposium in Sacramento, saying, “I think we really need to look at and understand what’s coming down the line. We really need to take the time to think this through and make sure we do it right.”
Council member Kim Greene volunteered to accompany Hall to the symposium. “We’re not here to make any decisions tonight, but I would really like to get some more information before exploring this further,” she said.
Council members Stacey Green and Chuck Sutton both said they wanted to support the citizens who voted against cannabis sales and “lay the matter to rest.”
Palfini said, “I hear everybody’s pain here, both sides. I’m fully aware of the advisory vote, believe me, it pains me all the time. However, sometimes, as a council, you need to look to a city’s future and not its past.”
Palfini pointed out that he regularly walks past the dispensary in Mount Shasta to get coffee during his work day and “doesn’t see anything out of the ordinary.”
Another item on the council’s agenda regarding the creation of a public advisory committee focused on cannabis sales was also tabled by 3-2 vote with Green and Sutton opposed. Public comment on the item was not allowed after the decision was made to table it. Council members agreed more information is needed before they can consider it.