The City of Ripon is looking to be off limits to marijuana dispensaries.
Elected leaders took that first step on Tuesday by approving the first reading of an ordinance that would “enact a complete and total prohibition of medical marijuana dispensaries, cooperatives and collectives” within the city.
Councilman Jake Parks called it a preventive measure against crime and abuse. He pointed out that crimes are often associated with these dispensaries, in turn, meaning increased police time.
Parks added that those who had the “green card” under the Medical Marijuana Program were more than likely to abuse the privileges.
“Ninety-eight percent of them abuse the program and have no prior history of needing it for medical use,” he said.
Ripon is hoping to join the nine counties, 72 cities that have since banned marijuana dispensaries with similar-type ordinances. Included are Riverside, Orange, Santa Barbara, San Bernardino, Beaumont, Anaheim and Fresno.
“There are no budgetary benefits to those cities that have allowed the dispensaries,” said Parks.
Medical-use marijuana are available to people inflicted with chronic pain or terminally ill. “They’re allowed this rather than prescription medicine,” Parks said.
He mentioned that several events paved the way towards limiting the use of this narcotic, starting with 1996.
That’s when voters approved the state Compassionate Use Act of 1996 that decriminalized the possession and cultivation of marijuana but only for certain medical purposes.
In 2003, the state enacted the “Medical Marijuana Program” that authorized cities and local governing bodies to adopt and enforce rules and regulations consistent with the program. “But there were no regulatory structure,” Parks said.
Just two months ago, the state Supreme Court ruled that, based on the City of Riverside vs. Inland Empire Patients Health and Wellness Center decision, cities such as Ripon have the right to ban facilities that distribute medical marijuana.
Stacy Henderson, who is the city’s Deputy City Attorney, told council members that they can allow for limited use of medical marijuana in their ordinance. “You can regulate it for hospice use at a medical facility,” she said.
The ordinance will return to council for final approval.