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The City Council’s Law and Legislation Committee mulled several new restrictions on medical marijuana on Tuesday, but chose only to act one one of them – recommending increasing the distance any new dispensaries must be from a school from 600 feet to 1,000 feet.
It will now be up to the full City Council to decide whether that should be a law.
The committee also considered:
600 OR 1000?
Medical marijuana advocate Lynette Davies asked the committee not to change its 600-foot ordinance to 1,000 feet during the meeting’s public comment period, saying that the city’s law should continue to mirror California’s 600-foot law.
The city’s proposed rule is meant to conform to a federal law that gives harsher punishments for selling illegal drugs within 1,000 feet of a park or school – yet federal law prohibits all growing and selling of marijuana for any reason.
“Federal law does dictate at times what takes place,” City Councilman Darrell Fong said. “I think this needs to go to the City Council for full discussion.”
Councilwoman Sandy Sheedy added a facet to the proposed 1,000-foot rule at the city level that barriers such as freeways and rivers should be considered – meaning that if a dispensary is 1,000 feet from a school, but there is a river between them, the 1,000-foot rule would not apply.
After a unanimous vote in favor of the 1,000-foot rule, the city was divided on whether to allow any of the 34 dispensaries in Sacramento to relocate within 300 feet of a residential zone.
According to a city ordinance, no dispensaries can be within 300 feet of a residential zone, but 34 that submitted applications last year will be able to apply for a new permit within 300 feet of residences if the City Council votes to give them exemptions.
Of the 34, only 18 are still operating, but all would have the chance to try to open in a new location, exempt from the rule that they need to be 300 feet from a residence, subject to city approval.
City Councilman Steve Cohn said he wants to see some flexibility for dispensaries that have worked with the city in the past and might need to relocate from a district such as Midtown if their landlords don’t renew their leases.
“This would only affect those who are already in,” he said.
Proponents of giving the exemption to the existing dispensaries pointed out that the various zoning rules leave very few places in the city to open a dispensary.
City Councilman Jay Schenirer said he doesn’t want to see a “dispensary row” in one of the few areas where dispensaries can operate under current city code.
OUTDOOR GROWING BAN
Another topic the committee couldn’t decide upon was whether to ban outdoor growing of medical marijuana by residents.
Sheedy said she has received numerous complaints from her constituents regarding odors during harvest time and burglaries.
Some of the speakers during the public comment section said outdoor growing is essential, because watering a plant growing under natural sunlight is far easier and cheaper than setting up an indoor garden.
If adopted in its current form, the ban would not go into place until January, allowing those who are already growing plants outdoors to harvest this year’s crop.
All of the issues will have to go before the full City Council for approval before being implemented, and the more contested ordinances will likely require multiple discussions at the full City Council before any decision is reached.