Mountain View Voice

News - September 10, 2010

Sunnyvale queries residents on medical marijuana

by Daniel DeBolt and Nick Veronin

Mountain View isn't the only city in the area seriously considering an ordinance allowing regulated medical marijuana dispensaries. Sunnyvale is as well, and is aggressively seeking input from its residents.

In a new nine-question survey from the city of Sunnyvale, its residents are asked whether marijuana dispensaries should be allowed there, whether they would use such a dispensary and in what areas of the city dispensaries would be allowed. So far, no survey is planned in Mountain View, but "I wouldn't rule it out," said City Attorney Jannie Quinn.

Quinn said Mountain View is also considering a public meeting focused on medical marijuana, but a date has not yet been set. The City Council will probably discuss Mountain View's draft ordinance in a study session in January, she said. The draft is expected to include tight restrictions on where dispensaries can locate, background checks for operators, testing for contaminated marijuana and numerous building security requirements.

Medical marijuana was also the focus of a recent public meeting in Sunnyvale where speakers were split for and against medical marijuana dispensaries.

About 50 people, most of them Sunnyvale residents, gathered in Sunnyvale's community center ballroom on Aug. 26. Fifteen people stood up to voice their opinions.

"It's really important to the City Council that your feelings are known," said Andy Miner, a Sunnyvale city planner who moderated the meeting.

A two-member panel, a Sunnyvale police officer and a local medical marijuana advocate, began the meeting by sharing their views on the issue.

Negative impacts on safety, property values and the city's youth were concerns for Lt. Carl Rushmeyer of the Sunnyvale Police Department. "What is alarming to me, personally, is the use of marijuana by minors."

The other panel member, medical marijuana advocate Alisha Boyd, acknowledged that there would likely be individuals who would try to game the system, but she said she is confident that the city can put rules and proper enforcement in place to stop most of those attempts. Ultimately, Boyd said, it is not fair to deny those who need safe access to medical marijuana, out of fear of a few "bad apples."

"This is about truly caring about people," Boyd said. "I believe in it."

A mother who spoke disagreed.

"We're calling it medicine," said Michelle, a single mother who asked to be identified by her first name only. "It's drugs." She worried that the city would be sending mixed messages to its youth, by teaching them in school that marijuana is bad but allowing medical cannabis in the city. "Why are we having this discussion?" she asked incredulously after the meeting. "It's a federal crime."

E-mail Daniel DeBolt at ddebolt@mv-voice.com and Nick Veronin at nveronin@mv-voice.com.

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