BARSTOW — The police chief urged the City Council to makes sure a ban on all marijuana dispensaries, cultivation, delivery and uses continues within the city's limit even if California voters approve Proposition 64 on Nov. 8.
The Barstow City Council on Monday night unanimously approved the first reading of an ordinance that will allow the Police Department and city staff to manage the potential issues that will arise if the Control, Regulate and Tax Adult Use of Marijuana Act is approved. The second reading is expected to be on the Nov. 7 meeting agenda.
"Proposing this ordinance will get ahead of the power curve in case it does pass," Police Chief Albert Ramirez told the City Council before the 5-0 vote. "The Adult Use of Marijuana Act allows local governments to enforce state laws and regulations and to enact reasonable regulations in their jurisdictions."
There was some confusion on how the Adult Use of Marijuana Act can be enacted as soon as voters approve it as stated in the proposition. Councilman Richard Harpole helped clarify the Adult Use of Marijuana Act before the vote.
"People will be able to personally possess and use without fear of being arrested. But what we are talking about tonight is the commercial aspect and that mechanism can't possibly be put into place before this ordinance goes into affect," Harpole said.
"So folks can have it and buy it wherever?" Councilwoman Carmen Hernandez asked.
"There won't be any place to buy it," City Attorney Theresa Hightower said. "There will be no legal place to buy marijuana for recreational use. It's not possible."
"And that doesn't affect medical marijuana?" Hernandez asked again.
"That's already the law," Hightower said. She was referring to a medical marijuana ordinance approved by the City Council in January.
That ordinance prohibited marijuana cultivation and dispensaries or any other facility or use which involves the manufacture, distribution of drugs or other substances which are illegal to distribute or possess under state or federal law. That ordinance was written after three bills (AB 266, AB 243 and SB 643) were signed by Gov. Jerry Brown that could have rendered Barstow's existing ordinance moot.
Delivery within the city of marijuana of any substance which is illegal under either state or federal law is prohibited, regardless of any license a dispensary or person may possess to deliver or dispense marijuana outside of the city.
Harpole also expressed his opposition to the Adult Use Marijuana Act before the vote.
"There is a tax that comes with this, but all the tax money goes to the state. The proposition provides for cities and counties the authority to pass their own tax and own licensing fees. By the time you get the state and county and the cities and everybody else throwing in their tax and licensing fees, the cost of legal marijuana is going to exceed the cost of illegal marijuana. And there will continue to be a black market."
Harpole also cited statistics showing that marijuana-related driving fatalities dramatically increased in Washington state and Colorado after recreational marijuana sales and use were approved in those states.
"I have concerns about all these issues, but my overriding issue is that it continues to be a violation of federal law. And we have taken an oath to support the Constitution and the laws of the state and the federal government. And I can't with a clear conscious support legalization of recreational use of marijuana."
Mike Lamb can be reached at 760-957-0613 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow him on Twitter @mlambdispatch.