Get a grip on pot

Note to Chico City Council: The marijuana ordinance is a land-use issue

The Chico City Council cannot stay on track when it comes to setting up regulations for marijuana dispensaries. Instead of coming to grips with a proposal intended to keep the public safe while allowing people access to their medicine, council members appear to want to fix the problems associated with the state’s ultra-vague Proposition 215.

Mayor Ann Schwab started the most recent discussion on marijuana a week ago Wednesday (Dec. 1), saying her philosophy with the law is to keep it very simple. Later, however, she said the city should require collectives to run as a “closed circle” with a fixed number of members. She also wants the city to keep tabs on the co-ops by requiring them to turn in detailed records, including the names of patients.

Further complications came from others on the panel. For example, Councilman Jim Walker, a physician’s assistant, launched into a backgrounder on how the initial intent of Prop. 215 was to provide seriously ill patients with relief but now the law has made sick people out of well people. In other words, people are abusing the Compassionate Use Act.

Tell us something we don’t already know. That issue, a valid one, is something for the state to take up. Chico’s proposed cannabis ordinance is simply a land-use issue.

Councilman Andy Holcombe was the only one on the dais who was able to distinguish the city’s proposed law and the fraud associated with medical cannabis as two separate issues: “If there’s a problem with the Compassionate Use Act or with doctors who are writing scripts who shouldn’t, that problem should be addressed. But that is not within the scope of the zoning ordinance.”

He’s right. The council should keep it simple and determine where dispensaries should be located to meet the needs of the public—both patients and residents.