Oakland Proceeding with Caution on Pot Ordinance
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Oakland Proceeding with Caution on Pot Ordinance
Posted by CN Staff on December 28, 2010 at 07:56:47 PT
By Chip Johnson
Source: San Francisco Chronicle
California -- It seems that Oakland Mayor-elect Jean Quan and her virtual campaign running mate, at-large Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan, didn't want to stand in front of the authorities on this one. By a 7-1 vote, the Oakland City Council last week suspended its legal marijuana farm ordinance because it's not as legal as it was billed to be.The council, on the advice of legal counsel and a letter of caution from the Alameda County district attorney's office, temporarily withdrew a plan to allow large indoor pot farms in the city.
The issue became a hot potato for Oakland lawmakers when Proposition 19, a state initiative for recreational use by adults, was defeated at the polls last month. And even though city officials said the new ordinance wasn't contingent on the state ballot initiative, it turns out they were dead wrong.Oakland City Attorney John Russo issued a legal opinion saying the plan violates the state's medical marijuana laws and could place council members in legal jeopardy.He advised the city to back off of the proposal because Prop. 215, the state medical marijuana law, offers no legal protection from prosecution by state or federal authorities."There's no authority in 215 to grow pot for profit," Russo told The Chronicle last week.Two weeks earlier, in an effort to illustrate the potential severity of the problem, Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley used the phrase "aid and abet or conspire" in a letter to Oakland officials.Oakland policymakers' latest foray into the rapidly evolving world of marijuana legislation was a disappointment only because it's one of the few areas where the city has really shown leadership on a national scale.In a state where medical marijuana dispensaries have cropped up in cities faster than they can be identified or regulated, Oakland's approach to the issue has been measured, restrained and smart.The city has allowed only four permitted pot clubs to operate in the city, and although that number will double next year, it's nowhere near the unregulated growth seen in other large cities around the state.The city has regulated the dispensaries and watched one of them, Harborside Health Center, grow to become the largest facility of its kind in the nation, and perhaps the world.City officials are on the right track to zone and limit where such operations can be established because, in Oakland - where the legal pot clubs put up a combined $28 million in medical marijuana sales - there are dozens of illegal pot farms operating that pose a potential risk to neighbors.In this case, Oakland city officials jumped the gun by approving pot farms without limits on size or specific details about the legitimate markets they intend to serve."No decisionmaker in Oakland should be surprised by the objections raised in the D.A.'s letter," Russo said. "This has always been a legally complex area, and you need to have a situation in which you are at least abiding by state law. If you're just making up rules in Oakland, it's not going to work."He would not comment on his discussions with the council prior to the July vote approving the new ordinance.When you consider Russo's position as the only elected law enforcement official in the state to endorse Prop. 19, his legal analysis is not linked to a political position.The message is clear: Oakland city officials need to proceed with caution in the post-Prop. 19 era, which has prompted a response from federal authorities.In recent months, at least two Oakland medical marijuana dispensaries have seen their bank accounts dropped by federally insured banks. One of the institutions was Harborside, which reported $21 million in revenue in 2009. Banks don't turn away those kinds of customers without a real good reason.Chip Johnson's column appears in The Chronicle on Tuesday and Friday. This article appeared on page C - 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle.Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA)Author: Chip JohnsonPublished: December 28, 2010Copyright: 2010 San Francisco Chronicle Contact: letters sfchronicle.comURL:  Medical Marijuana Archives
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Comment #3 posted by runruff on December 29, 2010 at 01:13:29 PT
Ringer dinger?
Did I mean "Wringer"?I think I did?
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Comment #2 posted by runruff on December 29, 2010 at 01:08:42 PT
J-Bone, new boss, same as the old boss!
So, J-bone the Orangeman is back from his hang over? I hear he passed out and someone stamped a Sunkist logo on him and mailed him to Florida. When he woke up he thought someone was trying to make orange juice out of him but it was just his wife with his butt in a ringer!If only his mother could stand beside him while he speaks from the podium and wipe his big vodka tears away as he remembers that mornings golf score...oh that hurts?It does not suprize me that his favorite drink is the "screw driver". He uses the same term to discribe his political policies!J-Bone wanted to be a soap star but actors cannot drink on the job so he was drawn to a drinking society where guzzling and blubbering are considered elite social interacting. 
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on December 28, 2010 at 14:40:15 PT
News From The Washington Post Blog
D.C. Needs To Be Ready To Fight GOP 'Meddling,' Norton SaysBy Mike DeBonis December 28, 2010Washington, D.C. -- A week from tomorrow, the 112th Congress will convene, with a Republican majority in the House of Representatives. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D), the District's delegate to that body, said today that city residents better be ready to fight to keep gay marriage, medical marijuana, needle exchange and other hot-button legislative accomplishments of recent years.URL:
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