If Sacramento changes its medical-marijuana ordinance …

What happens if the city changes its medical-marijuana ordinance?

Maybe it was imprudent and naive to think that, back in November 2010, when city council passed its medical-cannabis dispensary ordinance, the future would be bright for marijuana in Sacramento.

At that point in time, it felt like the worst was behind the Sacto medical-pot community. And that sky-high was the limit.

Plus, the community had already endured decades of prohibition and eight years of President George W. Bush. Even 2010 was rough for a while: The local climate evolved from one with a semi-hostile City Hall, which wanted to limit the number of dispensaries to a “baked dozen,” to a welcome council that rubber-stamped both an ordinance and also a 4 percent dispensary tax. It was a sea change in a matter of months.

Oh, what a difference a federal intervention makes.

So, perhaps one shouldn’t be surprised to learn that city officials currently are considering some major, possibly damning-to-the-pot-community changes to its ordinance.

Four council members on the city’s law-and-legislation committee intended to meet this past Tuesday, July 24, at 3 p.m., to discuss the federal government’s 10-month-old crackdown on medical marijuana in California (SN&R watched the meeting, but could not report in time for deadline). Councilman Jay Schenirer requested this sit-down, which will also include an update on the city’s permitting process; it’s currently frozen through November 2013, because of state-court cases that might impact its legality.

But the big decisions on the table are: 1. whether the city will ban outdoor cultivation in residential areas; and 2. will it increase the proximity requirement between a dispensary and a sensitive use, such as a school or a church, from 600 feet to 1,000 feet.

Medical-pot advocates, such as Americans for Safe Access, argue that banning outdoor cultivation will simply harm the individual patient trying to home grow some buds.

Meanwhile, city officials, in particular Councilwoman Sandy Sheedy, view the outdoor grows as a negative in neighborhoods.

SN&R contacted the city police department to see what kind of complaints and issues there were with outdoor grows in residential areas.

Growing outdoors could become more popular than ever, too, if the city changes its rules on a dispensary’s proximity to sensitive uses. This could force a majority of the city’s remaining 18 clubs to move or even shut down.

The current ordinance allows for 600 feet from sites such as schools, school bus stops, etc. But the feds—and even some legislators at the state level—have rebuffed these buffers. Which is why council will likely make this switch to 1,000 feet.

It’s possible that all 18 existing medical-cannabis dispensaries in the city would have to find new homes if this rule does indeed change.

Despite this, city revenue manager Brad Wasson told SN&R last week that business is “status quo” with the dispensaries—or, basically, the city hopes nothing changes. It is taking in about $100,000 a month from the 4 percent tax, he said.

Yet, as with anything medical-cannabis related, it perhaps is shortsighted to think one can see through the smoke.