Informal interest in opening a medical marijuana dispensary in Orland has prompted city officials to consider an ordinance that would permanently ban such facilities.

The city’s temporary emergency ordinance expired in the fall, and the City Council wants to re-activate it until a permanent ban is approved.

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Interim City Manager Gail Wingard sought direction on the policy Tuesday because other cities are struggling with the opening and closing of such facilities.

Orland enacted its temporary ban of dispensaries, collectives and collaboratives two years ago while it waited to see how court cases in other communities were decided.

However, the ban expired last fall as the city was changing its attorneys, council members said.

City Attorney Greg Einhorn said the city has received informal interest about a dispensary, but no formal application for a business license has been filed.

The inquiry came three weeks ago, he said.

Councilman Bruce Roundy said the initial ban was approved for three months and then extended up to 18 months – starting in 2009.

Former City Attorney Tom Andrews drafted the ban in response to a request for a business license by a nonprofit organization seeking to open a medicinal marijuana dispensary in Orland in the fall of 2009.

At that time, cities and counties were allowed to temporarily ban such activities under health and safety codes, Andrews said.

California law permits these businesses under its compassionate use law for medicinal marijuana with a doctor’s recommendation, but federal law still bans marijuana sales and use for any purpose.

Federal officials are threatening cities with litigation if they allow dispensaries in their jurisdictions, Roundy said, so he believes the city should have an ordinance against dispensaries to prevent a federal suit.

His colleagues agree.

Councilman Dennis Hoffman said he is sure there are medicinal marijuana users in the community, but they could go elsewhere to buy it.

Vice Mayor Charles Gee said the personal use provision is being abused and the city should go for something that is defensible through federal law.

Einhorn said the city should be able to regulate or ban these activities through land-use regulations.

There is nothing in the city code to allow collectives to raise plants, he said, for multiple people.

Cultivation for individual use is different, Einhorn added.

He characterized the intent of the temporary ban as dealing more with the retail sale of marijuana through the dispensaries, but suggested land-use ordinances could cover both that and collectives.

“There is a benefit in making the city’s policy explicit,” Einhorn said. But he cautioned any prohibition could potentially conflict with California law.

Interim Police Chief J.C. Tolle said his department is 100 percent in favor of an ordinance.

Orland police regularly get complaints about odors from backyards where medical marijuana is grown for individual use, he said.

However, rules might be put in place to protect neighbors from marijuana nuisances, Roundy said.

“If you can see it or smell it, there could be punitive action for the nuisance,” Roundy said, based on what other communities are doing.

In fact, Glenn County is developing an ordinance regulating marijuana plants for individual medicinal consumption.

However, the number of plants individuals may grow has yet to be defined, Tolle said.

It has yet to be approved, but Planning Director John Linhart has provisions in the draft where neighbors can seek action if the plants can be seen or smelled from properties nearby.

The council directed Einhorn to bring back examples of defensible marijuana codes and re-do the emergency ordinance at the next council meeting.

He added it might take some time to complete the nuisance portion because of a fine schedule and definitions, but that could be worked out separately from the emergency ban.

News Hawk – 420 Warrior 420 MAGAZINE
Source: Colusa County Sun-Herald (CA)
Author: Rick Longley
Copyright: 2012 Freedom Communications