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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Libertarian Councilman Links MJ Dispensary To Community Concerns

The Mountain View City Council includes Libertarian Party member John Inks and economist Tom Means, a fellow at the libertarian Independent Institute. From a Jan. 27 article by Daniel DeBolt in the Mountain View Voice:

In 2005, Mountain View native Jonathan Lustig came to the City Council with a seemingly radical proposal: Let him open a medical marijuana dispensary somewhere in the city. With that the issue seemed to die, but recent shifts in policy at the federal and state level have led to a resurgence in requests to open medical marijuana dispensaries in Mountain View. So many requests are coming in, in fact, that the city manager is putting the topic of regulating such operations on the council's to-do list this spring.



Among the new crop of requesters is Brian David, whose family ran Eddy's Sport Shop from 1950 to 2002. David says his "Shoreline Wellness Collective" would sell medical marijuana to those with a prescription out of an industrial building in the Shoreline area, and donate all excess profits to local service organizations. Changes in policy Lustig said a local dispensary today is "more realistic than it was in 2005, certainly," because in October the Obama administration instructed federal prosecutors to ignore those who use and sell marijuana in compliance with state laws, such as the medical marijuana law California voters passed in 1996. As a result, dozens of medical marijuana dispensaries have sprung up in the Bay Area without the blessings of local governments, a trend that recently led Gilroy to ban the operations and for San Jose to say it will order dozens to shut down or face fines of up to $2,500 a day.

Another recent regulatory change helping those in the medi-pot business is a state Supreme Court decision made last Thursday which lifts specific limits on the amount of medical marijuana that can be possessed by patients. The decision allows patients to have as much marijuana as is found to be "reasonably necessary" for treatment, making it harder to prosecute them. Santa Clara County's own limits — six mature plants and eight ounces of harvested marijuana per patient — were nullified as well, said Amy Cornell, spokesperson for the District Attorney's office.

There are no policies specifically supporting or opposing a marijuana dispensary in Mountain View, but a handful of potential operators have found that a lack of appropriate zoning in the city still makes it difficult to open one without a zoning administrator- or City Council-approved variance.

One thing that appears to make council members nervous is the neighborhood opposition sure to come whenever a marijuana dispensary is proposed. That's why David believes it would be best to locate one near Shoreline Amphitheatre, away from residential neighborhoods and schools. "There has to be community support," said council member John Inks, who added he would have to know more about a given proposal and the group behind it before deciding whether to support it. During the 2005 debate, council member Tom Means said he and other council members feared a dispensary would be repeatedly targeted for robbery, as they have in other cities, or turn nearby areas into sites for drug dealing. Lustig said strict rules could prevent problematic people from obtaining membership at a medi-pot club, and David said he doesn't believe the businesses would be any more prone to being robbed than certain others, such as his own family's gun store. David says the security methods used by other dispensaries include vaults and metal detectors, and he also says he's considering using an armored car service.

In an unusual twist, David is a Republican and a staunch advocate of the right to bear arms. He has voted for every Republican presidential candidate since Ronald Reagan, and was ranked best competitive outdoor pistol shooter in the state in 2003 and 2004, he says.

1 comment:

  1. Question for John Inks -- "There has to be community support" before people can be allowed to have their rights!? I really, really hope this was a misquote or taken out of context.

    And this Tom Means from the Independent Institute, quoted as worrying that a cannabis dispensary might be robbed, or lead to drug dealing in the area?

    How embarrassing! Again I sure hope the article was inaccurate, because if libertarians can't do any better than this once they get in office, what's the point?

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