LATHROP – It could be a non-issue in the coming years if California does become one of the next several states to legalize marijuana for recreational use.
But until then, communities like Lathrop still have to figure out a way to adhere to and work within the state’s complicated and largely unregulated medical pot system that puts majority of the power into the hands of the communities in which the dispensaries are looking to locate.
For nearly 18 months the Lathrop City Council has examined the medical marijuana dispensary model and taken careful steps to make sure that no decision was rushed. They enacted a moratorium that will prevent any dispensary from opening legally within the city limits until at least the end of November.
And that moratorium, barring any major revelations in the coming weeks, will likely become permanent.
When the council met earlier this month they were prepared to take public comment on an ordinance that would have outlawed marijuana dispensaries, cooperatives and collectives in the community. A question regarding public notification pushed the matter back. That gave the Lathrop Planning Commission – who met on Wednesday – the chance to take more public input from residents before forwarding on a recommendation to the council.
The item is expected to be on the agenda when they meet on April 7.
While Proposition 215 – California’s Compassionate Use Act that effectively made marijuana legal with a doctor’s prescription – and the refining legislation that followed it has been hailed as pioneering by advocates, it still falls outside of the laws of the Federal government that places marijuana in the same classification grouping as heroin, PCP and cocaine.
President Obama has said that he won’t make raiding dispensaries – where patients get “medicine” for ailments ranging from the side-effects of chemotherapy to social-anxiety disorders – that operate within acceptable boundaries a priority for Federal law enforcement agencies. But the hammer has come down on outfits that operated like state-sponsored drug bazaars. Banking laws make any money obtained through the sale of a controlled substance legally untouchable making it harder for cooperatives to follow the letter-of-the-law.
Several Northern California dispensary owners and their representatives attended a workshop style meeting with the council in 2012. It was intended to give those unfamiliar with the business’ standard practices insight into the way that things operate.
Some even go so far as to position state-of-the-art, Redbox-style machines in their lobby where patients with acceptable California-approved patient identification cards can purchase small amounts of medical marijuana with a credit card the same way that most people obtain DVDs in front of gas stations and liquor stores. Much like the gas pumps in front of membership-only warehouse stores like Costco, the machine would use the ID to determine the patient’s eligibility before allowing the purchase.