The Escondido Council Chamber became a forum for a discussion of medical marijuana on the first meeting of the new year.
members passed an ordinance prohibiting medical marijuana dispensaries,
cultivation and delivery of the substance at the Jan. 14 meeting. The
city had already banned dispensaries, but followed the lead of the
California League of Cities, which advised municipalities to set up
“explicit legislation” against medical marijuana businesses.
Center residents gathered Jan. 11 to hear about a marijuana collective
being established in their unincorporated area. Medical marijuana
business owners briefed them on the nature of the future facility on
Nelson Way. The non-city area has no licensing power that would allow
its residents to regulate the business.
Escondido’s new zoning law, the city will refuse to license any
dispensary, delivery service or cultivation operation. Transportation of
marijuana is not prohibited if the carrier is traveling through the
Myste of Valley Center, who holds a Health and Human Services card for
medical marijuana to treat her insomnia, anxiety disorder and PTSD, told
the council that the ordinance “would force people, qualified patients,
to use the black market that everyone here knows exists, which would
cause many more problems.”
problem: “It would cause patients to resort to pharmaceuticals with
their terrible side effects and are very expensive and highly addictive,
which cannabis is not.”
added that the ordinance would cause patients “to drive very long
distances” to get their medicine and “It is very deep reaching to say
that patients can’t cultivate their own medicine.”
Olga Diaz said the city should consider modifying its stance so that
medical marijuana would be available to residents who need it.
“There has to be a way for us to solve the problem; just saying no won’t solve the problem,” she said.
“I would like us to acknowledge that people who need this should have access to it in a safe manner,” she told the council.
Diaz voted for the ordinance, but said, “I would love the conversation to continue” about providing access to medical marijuana.
City Attorney Gary McCarthy answered a question about patients who grow
their own, saying that cultivation is limited to six mature plants or
12 immature plants per patient. He said the state is moving away from
that standard because marijuana plants can be quite large.
New standards under consideration would limit a patient’s plot to 100 square feet.
McCarthy said he asked a cultivator how much marijuana a 10 by 10 foot plot would produce.
“He said it would turn out for one person at least 9.97 grams a day, which is much, much larger than needed for personal use.”
The rest of the council strongly opposed medical marijuana in Escondido.
Gallo said, “I’ve been told it’s a gateway drug and I believe that’s
true” and “I can’t believe that the medical community can’t come up with
medications that are better than doing dope.”
added, “I don’t want to have the police department spending a lot of
their resources on who’s growing weed in their back yard.”
Mayor Michael Morasco, a licensed physical therapist, said, “I see
people who use medical marijuana all the time,” who had no problem
see it as something that is already being abused within the medical
confines of utilization and distribution,” he said. “I only see it
getting worse and more difficult to manage.”
Councilman John Masson and Mayor Sam Abed had law enforcement issues with medical marijuana.
Masson said he had heard of marijuana “delivery people being followed by thugs getting ready to rob them.”
such an incident occurred in Oceanside on Dec. 2. Three men robbed a
delivery driver of a pound of marijuana. They were arrested on robbery
charges, according to KUSI news. The San Diego Union-Tribune reported 26
similar Oceanside robberies in 2013.
“Our best action is to approve this ordinance and just shut it down and keep it out of here,” Masson said.
Abed said, “The number one priority for us as a city is the health and
safety of the general public… and from other experiences in other cities
youths would be exposed to marijuana. We’re not putting a huge
restriction on medical use; you can go a few miles and get it.”
The mayor said California should “develop a targeted approach instead of just issuing legislation left and right.”
interested parties agree. A Jan. 4 Los Angeles Times story, “Murky
legal landscape on marijuana” said the U.S. Justice Department is
pursuing cases agains marijuana collectives despite Congress’
legislation that lifted a ban on medical marijuana more than a year ago.
Federal law still lists marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug, the same as heroin and LSD.