Paso Robles to consider ban on mobile marijuana services

mfountain@thetribunenews.comJuly 14, 2014 

In this March 2007 photo, Deputy John Franklin helps federal agents and sheriff's detectives remove marijuana after search warrants were served at Central Coast Compassionate Caregivers medical marijuana dispensary in Morro Bay.

JOE JOHNSTON — The Tribune

The Paso Robles City Council will consider Tuesday night an urgency ordinance to forbid medical marijuana delivery services from operating within city limits.

The services, which typically include physician-qualified caretakers making deliveries to doctor-recommended patients, have operated in San Luis Obispo County since the legalization of medical marijuana, even in cities that have already outlawed brick-and-mortar dispensaries.

City Administrative Services Director Jim Throop said Monday that Tuesday’s proposal is simply a matter of housekeeping, since the City Council passed an ordinance banning brick-and-mortar dispensaries in February 2007.

Throop said the city became aware of the loophole after one mobile service came to the city for a business license.

According to a city staff report, the mobile services are a “current and immediate threat” to public safety because of a number of violent crimes local police agencies said are related to medical marijuana. City administration warns the services could open the city regulatory costs due to the discrepancy between state and federal marijuana laws.

Currently, no dispensaries exist in SLO County, and though a land ordinance for unincorporated areas technically allows for them, no business has met requirements or survived an appeal.

If the ordinance passes, Paso Robles wouldn’t be alone in prohibiting the delivery services.

In July 2012, the civil county grand jury published a report criticizing local municipalities’ lack of regulation for the “unknown number” of services operating in what it called a “gray market.”

The city of Arroyo Grande, which had an anti-dispensary ordinance on the books since 2008, updated the ordinance in October 2012 to include mobile dispensers.

In May, the San Luis Obispo City Council considered passing a similar ordinance following some residents’ complaints of a neighbor growing medical marijuana in the backyard of a rental property. Though that ordinance was initially an attempt to regulate outdoor cultivation, city staff also added a clause forbidding mobile dispensaries within the city as well.

The council was then bombarded with more than two hours of public comment from almost 50 residents upset over the ordinance. The council voted 4-1 to table the proposal.

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