West Sac gets sober about pot

By chillinwill · Dec 18, 2009 ·
  1. chillinwill
    It seems our marijuana laws were crafted by people who are stoned.

    Federal law says pot is illegal. It's also illegal under California law, except when it's "medical pot." Then users and sellers are given legal cover, with certain stipulations.

    Storefronts selling pot have popped up like mad in Sacramento, and no one is certain if all are complying with the law. For example, these places aren't supposed to turn a profit. Do you really believe they aren't?

    "Most of them are making profits," said Sacramento Police Chief Rick Braziel.

    When California voters passed Proposition 215 in 1996, language was added to the California Health and Safety Code that allows "seriously ill Californians the right to obtain and use marijuana for medical purposes."

    Instead, legions of meat-heads feign medical illness to get high -- and everybody knows it.

    "Most of our defendants don't have cancer. They have back pains, PMS, diarrhea or stress," said Cindy Besemer, chief deputy district attorney in Sacramento County.

    It's enough to make you cynical. And it would be funny if some California cities weren't under pot siege.

    In Los Angeles, hundreds of marijuana dispensaries have opened without permission while city officials scramble to keep up. The city had a moratorium on dispensaries, but it was invalidated by a judge.

    Into this quagmire, the city of West Sacramento is trying to make some sense. Tonight, the City Council will discuss making West Sacramento the first local city to develop a legal framework to approve and regulate legal dispensaries within its city limits.

    If the measure is passed next month, West Sac will put the two dispensaries in commercially zoned areas away from homes and schools - -- and try to hold pot sellers to the letter of the law.

    That means getting a conditional use permit and business license. It means no drug paraphernalia sold on site. It means the marijuana proprietor has to be a West Sacramento resident who sells to West Sacramento residents. It means the seller cannot be a felon or have had misdemeanor convictions within the past five years.

    "This has been one of the biggest issues before our City Council," said West Sacramento Mayor Christopher Cabaldon.

    West Sac didn't want to put a moratorium on pot dispensaries, because - -- as evidenced in Los Angeles -- some judges shoot moratoriums down. And they didn't want to wait until marijuana storefronts proliferated, as happened in Sacramento.

    West Sacramento has blossomed in recent years, gilding its waterfront and shedding its past as a haven for prostitutes.

    They aren't looking to make money off pot, because no city yet has proved that possible. And they don't want to be known as Pot City -- just a city following our goofy pot laws.

    Marcos Breton
    December 16, 2009
    Sac Bee

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