Medical marijuana moratorium imposed in Mount Shasta

Skye Kinkade

Mount Shasta became the fifth Siskiyou County city to put a temporary moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries during a city council meeting Monday evening.

The 45 day moratorium, which was imposed immediately following its unanimous approval, will expire on Jan. 28, 2010. During this time, a committee consisting of Mayor Michael Murray, councilor Sandra Spelliscy, law enforcement and city staff will work with the public to form broad regulations to control such dispensaries.

It was made clear that the moratorium will not affect either of the two collectives currently doing business in Mount Shasta.

Mayor Murray said when the collectives first opened in August, the council made the decision not to interfere. However, after other cities in the county imposed moratoriums, interest in opening collectives in Mount Shasta elevated.

“If this is the only place [where medical marijuana dispensaries can open] it becomes a zoning issue,” Murray said. “We have enough to serve the need, now we need to sit down and look at regulations. We don’t have a predetermined plan as to how to handle this.”

During public comment, Chris Witcher, owner of Hearts of Mt. Shasta, stated his belief in the medical benefits of marijuana. He said he opened the business to make medicine available to those who need it without having to travel long distances.

“At first, we thought [the collective] would be a big money thing, but we’ve found out that it’s not,” Witcher said. “We make enough money to keep our doors open and to operate our charitable programs.”

Witcher added that he and his wife, Laurie, have always worked within the law and have been very careful to abide by all regulations.

“We don’t want to break the law... we’re doing everything exactly like it’s supposed to be done. Anything you need us to do, we’ll do... we’re happy to cooperate.”

Some of the regulations to be considered will include location and appropriate zoning for dispensaries, permit requirements, hours of operation, signage, distances from schools, public parks and other dispensaries, and the number of dispensaries allowed in Mount Shasta.

Other business

In other business, council approved a collaborative application to the California Energy Commission for up to $25,000 for energy efficiency projects. The application will be completed by the Siskiyou County Economic Development Council.

Council discussed the sale of a small piece of city-owned property on Perry Street to an interested party who has lived adjacent to it for 40 years. The steps to sell the particular area would be lengthy, though at this time, the parcel is unkept and has remained vacant since it was given to the city in the 1940s.

The council also directed staff to move forward with plans to annex the city-owned Orchard Property. The current plan calls for three acres of “employment center” with the other half to remain open space.