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City officials want delay of medical pot ordinance

Original post made on Feb 17, 2011

Mountain View may become the only city in the county to specifically allow medical marijuana dispensaries, and city officials say they need more time to finish an ordinance, which would delay a City Council vote scheduled for Tuesday.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, February 17, 2011, 10:34 AM

Comments (25)

Posted by BD, a resident of North Whisman
on Feb 17, 2011 at 12:21 pm

I am appalled!! 1 year is not enough time? Sick patients have waited long enough! I say pass the ordinance as it reads!
Brian David

Posted by Mark, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 17, 2011 at 12:29 pm

Okay people -- let's dot the I's and cross the T's and GET THIS DONE. Sick patients await your action, and HAVE BEEN AWAITING your action for over a year now. The City might also be losing out on a dollar or two of dispensary/licensing taxes and fees, as well as local sales tax monies. Sounds like a WIN - WIN to me. GET 'ER DONE!!!

Posted by Clancy, a resident of Castro City
on Feb 17, 2011 at 1:06 pm

Actually, patients have been waiting 14 years for this! Pass it now, and let any changes from county or state come as they may.

Posted by Coke Addict, a resident of Whisman Station
on Feb 17, 2011 at 1:43 pm

This is a bad idea and MV will come to regret it if they move forward.

Posted by PeaceLove, a resident of Shoreline West
on Feb 17, 2011 at 3:49 pm

MV Voice disgraces itself YET AGAIN by using the pejorative term "pot" not once, but twice, in your headline. By your biased standards, Walgreens sells "speed" (for children, no less!) and Kaiser Pharmacy sells "smack."

You also allow the Council to repeat the bogus concern that mold in cannabis "could sicken users...." Two minutes of research on The Google would have shown you that while mold definitely exists, documented incidences of mold causing sickness are virtually non-existent. Your job as journalists (should you choose to accept it) is not to simply parrot what elected officials say but to investigate and see if their claims have any basis in fact.

In any case, if you're willing to repeat scare-mongering claims about a plant with a 10,000 year death toll of zero, why are you not also calling out the City Council on their lack of concern over non-testing for mold on all the products sold by the Chinese herbalists on Castro?

The cowardice of the City Council will become more and more obvious if they continue to hem and haw and effectively deny their own constituents access to the medicine they voted to allow 15 years ago. I call on them to be courageous and prioritize the sick and suffering patients of Mountain View.

Jonathan Steigman
Communications Director
Americans for Safe Access, Silicon Valley Chapter
& Mountain View resident

Posted by Eric T., a resident of another community
on Feb 17, 2011 at 6:19 pm

I think Mountain View is just wasting a lot of time and effort by drafting this ordinance. Ultimately I believe it just makes Mountain View look like it's opinions can't be taken seriously. Not too long ago they rode their moral high-horse spending the money to run a dispensary out of the city, and now they are turning around and trying to allow them. I think regardless of the cities opinion on medical marijuana, the whole idea is going to blow up in it's face if it can't pick a single stance on the issue and stick with it.

Posted by Hardin, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 17, 2011 at 10:01 pm

The City is making the relatively smart move of being intentional and specific in its regulation of dispensaries. There's plenty of evidence, as shown in San Jose and Los Angeles how things have proven to get out of control, when proper controls weren't put into place.

I say "relatively" smart move because permitting any form of dispensary is a risk that does not have any defined benefits for the City, yet places all responsibility and liability of control on Mountain View. Notice how the state has conveniently delegated this hot potato over the cities, with Prop 215.

Taking all the emotional phraseology out of the mix, and what is being proposed is to set up a shadow pharmacy with less controls, for a drug with a proven history for abuse, and thin if any scientific data to confirm its efficacy as medicine, or its side effects, and supports an unregulated/unknown industry for growing the plants.

We have more controls and requirements on the growth of organic food, than what exists for the growth of "medicinal" marijuana.

Posted by PeaceLove, a resident of Shoreline West
on Feb 17, 2011 at 11:44 pm

Hardin: Must we continue to beat this dead horse? Nothing has "proven" to get out of control in either Los Angeles or San Jose. On the contrary, both the Los Angeles and the San Francisco police chiefs have stated that dispensaries are NOT causally linked to any increase in crime. In San Jose, where there are between 50 and 100 dispensaries, crime has been pretty infrequent (banks and 7/11s get robbed, too, you know).

The biggest causes of dispensary robberies are 1. Bad zoning laws that force them to locate in isolated parts of town, and 2. Bad federal banking laws that force them to be heavily cash-based businesses. Despite these 2 unfortunate factors, dispensaries all over California have an enviable safety record. Courageous caregivers risk arrest, harassment and financial ruin to help tens of thousands of patients, and they improve society by doing so.

Apparently, you think honoring the will of the voters and protecting sick and suffering Mountain View patients is not a "defined benefit." You also choose to consider the 20,000+ studies that have been done worldwide into the medical benefits of cannabis to be "thin if any scientific data." Your rigid belief system puts you at odds with the American Medical Association, the American College of Physicians, and the Institute of Medicine, among many other medical organizations.

Access to this extraordinarily safe and versatile medicine is a fundamental human right, one a majority of Santa Clara residents believe should be protected. Public policy should be based on facts, not irrational fear-mongering.

Jonathan Steigman
Communications Director
Americans for Safe Access, Silicon Valley Chapter
& Mountain View resident

Posted by Hardin, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 18, 2011 at 9:03 am

"Nothing has "proven" to get out of control in either Los Angeles or San Jose."


Web Link

"On the contrary, both the Los Angeles and the San Francisco police chiefs have stated that dispensaries are NOT causally linked to any increase in crime."


Web Link

"You also choose to consider the 20,000+ studies that have been done worldwide into the medical benefits of cannabis to be "thin if any scientific data." Your rigid belief system puts you at odds with the American Medical Association, the American College of Physicians, and the Institute of Medicine, among many other medical organizations."

The majority of studies I've reviewed are inconclusive or require additional studies to firm up the results. To be sure, there are some studies that show benefits of marijuana, but the body of work needs to be built up weighing the benefits AND risks, for it to have credibility in the scientific community, and to carry the designation of medicine in this country.

Nor does this evidence support a dispensary as the appropriate venue for distribution. Along with its benefits, marijuana possesses side effects and the risk of misuse and abuse is a proven historical fact, not a nebulous imagined fear of the unknown.

There is no other drug based medicine that is allowed to be sold outside a pharmacy, with a proven history of crime and abuse, and supported by an unregulated, shadow industry for growing the main ingredient. It's laughable to think this is a reasonable proposition.

Posted by Shawn, a resident of Rex Manor
on Feb 18, 2011 at 11:50 am

I applaud the Planning Commission's work on this issue. [url=Web Link the Environmental Planning Commission's January 19, 2011 stream[/url].

I hope the City Council will take the time to get it right--not too much time, mind you--so that Mountain View can have their few collectives be of the high-end variety that best serve the community with outstanding patient care. And that's what it's all about: patients from all walks of life having access to an alternative medication that works best for their condition. I speak both as a patient and a citizen of Mountain View.

Posted by PH, a resident of another community
on Feb 18, 2011 at 3:12 pm

It seems to me that there is not an easy solution to the medical marijuana issue. It does not have the same lineage of development as other presription drugs, has a history of violence and abuse in the growing, selling and use of it and is like "therapy animals" as it is very hard to prove that people that are in need are getting it while others aren't just playing the system for their own gain.
If you own a business and a person comes in with a large snake that scares your other customers and tells you it is a therapy animal you are stuck between a rock and a hard place. Someone is not going to be happy no matter what. It is the same with marijuana as there will always be many different arguments about it.
I see the only solution as treating it like all other prescription drugs. It would have to be prescibed by a doctor, sold through pharmacies and regulated in the same manner as other like substances. The penalties for presribing and selling it to those without legitimate need should be substantial as this is a drug that has long lasting effects and should not be used by many who might put others at risk from its effects. If it is easily gotten and not well controlled then it becomes the type of public problem that cigarettes and alcohol are. We should not put the good of all after the good of one, but for those truly in need it should be available in a way that is the best for them with the least complication. They need to get it in a safe, clean, dignified way, without fear of prosecution or sneaking around defying the authorities to get what they need.
The system needs to move quickly to address the issue as it seems the will of the people is to just legalize it, for the most part, and worry about the consequences later. This is a slippery slope and the current solutions don't help the people who are truly in need.
Marijuana is a drug that has serious side effects that make it something that can't be used by everyone due to safety concerns related to every day functions that we must do to live our lives and as such needs to only be prescribed to people if they aren't going to do things that could hurt them or anyone else. This is the real problem, not that people who get high become dangerous, as in violence, but are altered mentally and probably should stay somewhere safe and not get into situations that might be bad.
It is sad that the thing that makes us feel better also makes us less functional and because of it you can only get the benfit when you are really in a bad way.
It is imperative that we find a way to take care of those who are truly in need while balancing the legal and moral issues in the best way for everyone, and while it is difficult to work it out, every day someone suffers because we haven't gotten serious enough and moved the issue along more quickly.
Tell the govenment at all levels to get things sorted out quickly so that we can move on knowing there is at least some hope for the people in need and they won't be left to suffer without help.

Posted by Steven Nelson, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 18, 2011 at 3:20 pm

I would side with Hardin and Mayor Jac on this one. It is possible to go down to SJ right now and get your 'prescription' filled. You do not have to wait another 14 years (or probably even have a real doctor). I would wait until the country, as it recently stated, comes up with a uniform country-wide model code. If the state can't do it, Santa Clara County can.
As a parent, and UC Berkeley alum (late 60s) I can tell you that the uncontrolled and minimally supervised use of this drug is a concern to many parents. Did I inhale? I may be more honest than Mr. Clinton.

Posted by PeaceLove, a resident of Shoreline West
on Feb 18, 2011 at 3:23 pm

Hardin: Your first link cites no problems whatsoever with L.A. dispensaries except the fact that some people think there are too many of them. Your link actually supports the notion that the war against dispensaries is a political witch hunt and not based on facts.

The CCOP report in your second link simply lists incidences of problems at dispensaries statewide but does not address the question of whether dispensaries are robbed more often than other businesses. To that question, I'll trust the L.A. police chief:

LAPD chief: Pot clinics not plagued by crime Web Link

L.A. 2009: 350 banks/71 robberies
800 cannabis dispensaries/47 robberies

In other words, banks in L.A. are approximately 4X more dangerous than medical cannabis dispensaries. Claims that dispensaries are magnets for crime are politically motivated lies.

The SF police chief first claimed dispensaries caused crime then backed off that claim after he was unable to provide any supporting data:
Web Link

Worth noting that in Denver, CO dispensaries are robbed at about the same rates as pharmacies, and about half the rate of banks. Again, any claim that dispensaries have some special link to crime is false.

In fact, cannabis is not associated with crime except the tautological crime of using cannabis (if you don't have a doctor's recommendation). The crimes surrounding the cannabis industry are caused by prohibition, not any property of the plant itself. The best way to avoid such problems is to allow well-regulated dispensaries.

Furthermore, cannabis has a very low potential for abuse, certainly lower than alcohol, tobacco, Ritalin, Valium and just about every other substance out there. The documented death toll from overdose or allergic reaction still stands at zero. Ever. Patients ranging from plumbers to stay-at-home moms to Google executives use it safely every day to improve their lives and alleviate hundreds of medical conditions. That should be reason enough to provide safe access to the sick and suffering of Mountain View.

Jonathan Steigman

Posted by Steve, a resident of North Whisman
on Feb 18, 2011 at 11:11 pm

Doctors can prescribe a pill form. No dispensaries are needed. Please don't allow dispensaries in our town.

Posted by Law, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 19, 2011 at 12:17 am

"Honor the voters," yeah let's try that. Prop 215- gave you the right to grow your own and get out of the black market. SB 420- allowed a "caregiver" to assist you with that. The courts clarified the definiton of "caregiver" to mean someone other than just your weed dealer. The voters rejected Prop 19. But we are still playing this game and acting like in some magical world these dispensaries are following the law. There is no difference, within current law, between a dispensary and a corner dealer. So quit trying to circumvent the law and rewrite a proposition that supercedes and clarifies Prop 215. Even if the city says it's okay, the state and the feds say it isn't.

Posted by Law, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 19, 2011 at 12:23 am

L.A. 2009: 350 banks/71 robberies

800 cannabis dispensaries/47 robberies

Murders associated to those robberies...Banks 0, Dispensaries 5...there are probably more but I just took the first two hits from a google search...yeah banks are dangerous...

Posted by Observer, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 19, 2011 at 7:40 am

Mountain View is inviting trouble with this foolishness and plenty of liability which the taxpayers should not be subjected to.

Posted by Political Insider, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 19, 2011 at 10:40 am

We need more time. Isn't this what the council said last year when they passed an emergency ordinance? A whole year passes and this is what the citizens end up with. I hear rumblings from some staff that the CA and PC are pretty pissed off at some council members. They don't want the enforcement headache.

Even the MV Voice bully pulpit has failed to push this item through faster. Of course, these harsher words are not directed at the council members they like.

Posted by Bud Green, a resident of another community
on Feb 19, 2011 at 1:38 pm

Maybe it's just me, but harshing on the council at this stage in the game can only be counterproductive. It's encouraging that an ordinance is even on the table, even more encouraging that the new Santa Clara DA is backing off on the "all dispensaries are evil profiteers" mindset. One person's unacceptable delay is another's timely window of opportunity.

Yes, the cannabis literacy shown by many public officials borders on the appalling. But the same can be said of many medical cannabis patients, growers and advocates, who either don't understand the local political process or refuse to participate in it. Now's the time to continue your most positive education and outreach efforts, not stoop to flaming council members or city residents who don't happen to agree with you. Fight hard, but fight fair.

Posted by Reefer Madness, a resident of Martens-Carmelita
on Feb 19, 2011 at 4:11 pm

I can't wait to toke up on MJ with my bogus Rx. This will be too good to be true if it happens.

Posted by 26 year resident, a resident of Monta Loma
on Feb 20, 2011 at 2:26 am

So the council has decided to continue to cruely punish people who have chronic sicknesses by extending a ban on accessing medication that relieves their pains far better than pharamceuticals but with significantly less side-effects??
Younger generation to older generation..your inability to do the right thing is directly supporting the physical and pscyhological destruction of patients.
Many would consider what you're doing to be torturous and murderous.
Dark clouds loom over city hall.
Its sad that those who were elected to lead, elect to be cowards instead.
Pathetic and unforgivable.
The world works in mysterious ways.
Don't blame anyone else but yourselves when your loved ones are strickin with a disease or injury like those who live in Mountain View that you have denied.

Posted by Mark, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 20, 2011 at 9:07 am

26-year old,

You need to lay off the drugs writing like that!

Posted by PeaceLove, a resident of Shoreline West
on Feb 23, 2011 at 1:27 am

The Mountain View City Council decided tonight that the sick and suffering patients of Mountain View and surrounding cities do not need access to their medicine. Not once did anyone on the Council even so much as suggest they should protect their ailing constituents. Instead, the Council all but stated outright that they are not leaders, and that they will cower behind the unjust bans of surrounding cities and ignore the will of the voters of Mountain View.

Although Prop 215 passed almost 15 years ago, patients and caregivers continue to face regular harassment just for using this extremely safe and natural medicinal plant. Patients can be fired from their jobs, evicted from their homes, and even arrested. For this reason, most medical cannabis patients are unwilling to stand publicly in front of the City Council to fight for their rights.

But, as events in Egypt, Libya and Wisconsin demonstrate, courage is contagious. I call on all medical cannabis patients and their families and supporters in Mountain View to step forward. Bombard the City Council with calls and emails. Write to the Mountain View Voice. Express your disgust that ignorance, fear and lies trumped science, reason and compassion in your home city.

Tonight, our City Council brought shame on themselves and on our city by abandoning the sickest and weakest among us. They allowed their cowardice to determine public policy. What a dark day for Mountain View.

Jonathan Steigman
Communications Director
Americans for Safe Access, Silicon Valley Chapter
Mountain View resident

Posted by le dude, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 23, 2011 at 1:34 pm

Jonathon, comparing legalizing MJ to the reformist revolts in the Middle East lack proportionality. You argumentation probably does your cause more harm than good. I for one am tired of hearing about it.

Posted by PeaceLove, a resident of Shoreline West
on Feb 23, 2011 at 3:11 pm

le dude: Americans for Safe Access gives voice to those who are otherwise voiceless due to our oppressive and tyrannical government drug policy. Mountain View is full of sick patients who are unwilling or unable to step forward publicly. I am sorry you are tired of hearing about it the suffering in your midst; be thankful you are not one of the patients whose life just became worse as a result of last night's cowardly action.

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