2016-01-14 / Front Page

T.O. to remain weed-free zone

By Becca Whitnall

Thousand Oaks on Tuesday became the latest California city to outright ban medical marijuana dispensing, delivery and cultivation within its borders.

At its Jan. 12 meeting, the five-person council voted unanimously to join the quickly growing list of municipalities rushing to establish medical marijuana laws in order to meet a state-imposed March 1 deadline (see related story here).

Though some state legislators are moving to change or remove the deadline, currently cities that don’t have their own local ordinances in place regarding medical marijuana cultivation will default to state law, Code Compliance Manager Geoff Ware told the council.

City staffers and council members asserted the ordinance doesn’t change what’s allowed in the city.

“We’re doing nothing more than retaining the status quo for now,” Councilmember Al Adam said.

Marijuana dispensaries, for example, were already quasi-banned under a permissive zoning principle that basically says because commercial dispensaries and cultivation were not explicitly permitted within the city’s various zones, they were prohibited, Ware said.

Council member Andy Fox attempted to frame the ordinance in terms of a local land use control issue versus a debate about the merits of medical marijuana.

“Tonight is, in a sense, a preventative action to make sure whatever happens in the future, local government, Thousand Oaks in this case, maintains some control over, essentially, land uses in our community,” he said.

That didn’t stop most of the 13 public speakers—two in support of the ordinance and 11 against— from discussing the plant’s virtues or lack thereof.

Shari Sanders, a Thousand Oaks mother of four, said she used to lead marches against drugs, but after suffering with reflex sympathetic dystrophy and wasting away on a prescribed 400-milligram dose of morphine daily, she found cannabis to be life changing.

“I’m only up and walking today because of cannabis,” she told the council.

Driving out of town to a city where dispensaries are legal to pick up medication and bring it back—legal for qualified patients and their caregivers under the ordinance— won’t long be an option for her, she told the Acorn.

“There are days I can’t leave my house and for me, my disease only gets worse; it doesn’t get better,” she said. “As I get worse, my ability to get around will only get worse and it would be nice to have the ability to have it delivered or not have to drive such long distances for it.”

But speaker Mark Wallace, representing Nar-Anon, a 12-step program for the family and friends of addicts, said the Compassionate Care Act has been corrupted to the point that anyone can get a medical marijuana recommendation.

“The medical marijuana process is a sham,” he said. “Marijuana is not going to slow down, it’s not going to stop, and Thousand Oaks can make a statement that we will not be a part of the problem.”

While council members said they know people who use medical marijuana to help ease pain and suffering, they asserted land use and local control was what was at stake with the vote.

Only Councilmember Claudia Bill-de la Peña voiced concerns about some of the limits of the ordinance, especially with regard to delivery.

“I do agree with local control and maintaining local control,” she said. “I have to say, however, it is my fervent hope that before this year is out, we revisit this issue and look at local deliveries because, for the life of me, I don’t know why we shouldn’t and cannot allow for deliveries to patients who depend on this who are unable to obtain a caretaker who can bring it to them from Los Angeles.”

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