Medical marijuana ordinance on the chopping block again

Napa Planning Commission will hold hearing on Thursday
2013-10-29T17:40:00Z 2013-10-31T21:38:53Z Medical marijuana ordinance on the chopping block againCHANTAL M. LOVELL Napa Valley Register
October 29, 2013 5:40 pm  • 

After a nearly two-month pause, the city of Napa is resuming the process of effectively banning medical marijuana dispensaries within city limits.

On Thursday, the Napa Planning Commission is scheduled to sign off on the repeal of the city’s medical marijuana dispensary ordinance, making it illegal for dispensaries to operate within city limits. The move, which will need to be finalized by the City Council, follows an August decision by the council to proceed with a ban.

In August, the council voted 4-1 to begin the process of repealing the ordinance that would have allowed a dispensary. Except for Peter Mott, who voted against the ban, the council took the position that the move was the safest way to protect the city from federal prosecution.

Shortly after the council’s action, the U.S. Department of Justice issued a memo to state attorneys detailing the way they should prosecute dispensaries and the jurisdictions in which they operate. However, the latest memo states the federal government’s priority moving forward will be to ensure dispensaries adhere to a set of standards.

Jurisdictions that allow dispensaries should have laws that prevent the distribution of marijuana to minors, prevent revenue from marijuana sales from going to criminal enterprises, prevent marijuana distributions from being a cover for other illegal drug distribution or trafficking, and prevent violence and the use of firearms from being involved in marijuana distribution, the Justice Department said.

In 2010, the council passed an ordinance that would allow one strictly regulated medical marijuana dispensary to open in town. A year later, just as the council was about to name a collective that could open in Napa, the city put its law on hold due to a court battle over a similar ordinance in another California city and aggressive prosecution of dispensaries by the federal government.

City Attorney Michael Barrett was not available Tuesday to elaborate on why Napa’s ordinance would not be safe from prosecution based on the latest Justice Department position.

A city staff report on the matter explains that the city could still be taken to court over a dispensary. Additionally, the law surrounding marijuana dispensaries is “rapidly evolving and convoluted,” according to the city staff report.

“Regardless of the (federal memorandum), implementation of the ordinance would still be complicated and potentially legally vulnerable due to patent conflicts between federal and state law,” the staff report says.

The federal government still holds any use of marijuana as illegal, and the memo notes that jurisdictions that have legalized medical marijuana dispensaries may still be subjected to legal action. The federal memorandum does not give cities any new rights, according to the city attorney’s office.

The Planning Commission meeting will begin at 7 p.m. on Thursday in City Council Chambers at City Hall, 955 School St.

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(12) Comments

  1. CBD Saves Lives
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    CBD Saves Lives - October 29, 2013 9:11 pm
    If they don't want a dispensary then they should just say they don't want a dispensary. There is zero, 0, likelihood the Feds would prosecute Napa for it's planned regulated pot club.
    California's medical marijuana law on dispensaries has been clear and not changed in several years. SB420
    People in Napa will get their weed with or without a pot club in town, they do now right?
    But with a dispensary you virtually can eliminate the black market and take that illegal business and revenue used by some bad guys to do bad stuff.
    Make it legal and regulated in town and bye bye neighborhood pot dealer, see ya later guys camping in the hills around Napa County with automatic weopons. Their customers, most the majority the smokers, sorry sorry "patients" in Napa will get a MMJ card if they don't have one, happily pay the tax to stay in town, $$ for Napa.
    The product is better and safer for users when from a dispensary as well. For the user, uh I mean "patient".
    They are scared to let a dispensary open.
    Someone ask the City Council and/or Planning Commision to express more concrete fact based reasons for not having a pot club.
  2. NapaMark15
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    NapaMark15 - October 29, 2013 9:42 pm
    That's disappointing. I love how they started to repeal it because of fear of issues with the federal government, and not long after the announced that the Feds said they wouldn't doing anything about medicinal pot ... And then Napa recants still.

    I think they were lying to us why they were repealing it.
  3. Oldtimenapan
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    Oldtimenapan - October 30, 2013 7:09 am
    Wine makers don't want the competition lol
  4. rocketman
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    rocketman - October 30, 2013 7:16 am
    By Claire Chiara
    Last Updated September 2, 2013
    An announcement made by the Obama administration last week marks a turning point in the federal government’s approach to marijuana use and sale.

    Deputy Attorney General James Cole released a memo on Thursday stating that the federal government will allow state laws legalizing recreational marijuana use to stand and that it will refrain from targeting cannabis dispensaries solely based on their “size or commercial nature.”

    The statement appears to be a large turnaround from the federal government’s actions since 2008, said Councilmember Kriss Worthington.

    Addressed to U.S. attorneys in all 50 states, the memo details that regulation of the marijuana industry will be controlled solely at the state level and that federal prosecutors should only intrude when operations interfere with federal priorities.

  5. rocketman
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    rocketman - October 30, 2013 7:21 am
    .........and then there is this: But the feds will lay off only if the states create “a tightly regulated market” with rules that address federal “enforcement priorities” such as preventing interstate smuggling, diversion to minors, and “adverse public health consequences.” Those phrases seem imbued with discretion. This memo to U.S. attorneys makes clear that the DOJ can still prosecute growers and sellers.

  6. rocketman
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    rocketman - October 30, 2013 7:22 am
    .........or should we wait for this???: Legislation proposed by Congressmen Jared Polis (D-CO) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), the Marijuana Tax Equity Act, would end the federal prohibition on marijuana and allow it to be taxed. That way growers, sellers and users would not be in fear of violating federal law. The bill would also impose an excise tax on cannabis sales and an annual occupational tax on workers in the growing field of legal marijuana.

    Report Abuse
    HLMMXII - October 30, 2013 8:11 am
    "Government exists to protect us from each other. Where government has gone beyond its limits is in deciding to protect us from ourselves."

    Ronald Reagan
  8. napa1957
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    napa1957 - October 30, 2013 10:24 am
    CBD has it right. City Government is starting t look a lot like Congress. Waste of time and resources. Thank you Peter Mott for having common sense and not following the crowd on this one!
  9. Report Abuse
    - October 30, 2013 12:19 pm
    And..... NSIB gets a grant for Operation Green, but yet Methamphetamine remains at epidemic levels. Lets face it drug use and addiction is big business for Law Enforcement, Justice System and Corrections.... s.o.s. And the people suffer. Somebody said that the war on drugs was a mythical war.
  10. CBD Saves Lives
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    CBD Saves Lives - October 30, 2013 4:11 pm
    Remember NSIB 385 pound pot bust last week? Cartel growers from Mexico. They aren't shipping that weed anywhere folks it's sold locally.
    Our city can choose to control this market within its home turf or continue to allow criminals to grow, disperse, and sell marijuana in Napa.
    It's a huge no brainer without even mentioning the massive tax revenue this would generate for Napa.
  11. xXGotGrapesXx
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    xXGotGrapesXx - October 30, 2013 4:45 pm
    NSIB is going to get sued if they keep harassing innocent hard working people.
  12. vocal-de-local
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    vocal-de-local - October 31, 2013 1:01 am
    Are you 100% positive that cartel pot isn't being sold to the dispensaries? How will the trail be followed which shows where, how, and by whom this pot was grown?

    Seems to me that dispensaries only remove the middle men and this will happen only if pot sold from dispensaries is cheaper than street pot. Once it's taxed, I doubt this will be the case.

    Dispensaries will not remove street drug sales but it will probably cater to people with higher incomes who don't want to risk doing business with street dealers.
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