Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Costa Mesa Democrats Tackle Medical Marijuana

I had the opportunity to attend the early part of a meeting of the Costa Mesa Democratic Club at the Neighborhood Community Center last night during which the two dozen people in attendance had a chance to hear views presented by "experts" on the current situation regarding Medical Marijuana dispensaries in our City.  I wore all blue, to remain invisible.  A joke, OK?

I must state right up front here that I have a very conservative view of this issue.  I am not in favor of the sale of marijuana in Costa Mesa - medical or otherwise.  I also realize that this snowball is rolling downhill so we'd better find a way to direct its path or we'll be run over by it.

Club President, Annapolis graduate Andrea Marr,  kicked the meeting off by introducing the issue, stating that the Democratic Party supports the sale of medical marijuana and by providing a brief comparison of the three competing potential ballot measures.  She then invited Joyce Weitzberg - Costa Mesa resident, wife of community activist Harold Weitzberg, former operator of a Medical Marijuana dispensary, nurse and a person who gets relief from severe physical ailments from the use of the product - to present a short summary of medical marijuana and her views on the issue.

Joyce Weitzberg took time to explain the difference between Medical marijuana and Recreational marijuana, and how the former is required to undergo testing to determine the content of certain elements within the plant so those who later dispense it - sell it to patients - can make a proper diagnosis and dosage recommendation.  She talked about the various different types of medical marijuana products and how they are presently used.  She stressed the need for testing and also stated that those in the medical marijuana business should be compassionate because they are dealing with individuals looking for pain relief from their product.
Then a panel was convened consisting of Harold Weitzberg, activist and former dispensary owner Sue Lester and a lawyer named Jessie Bablove, who represents many dispensary clients throughout California and who is knowledgeable about the current Santa Ana situation where that city's Measure BB will require the existing 160 current dispensaries to be reduced to a maximum of 20, all of which will be located in industrial areas.  The panel expressed concern about that happening in Costa Mesa from a safety and accessibility standpoint.  Lester suggested a "medical marijuana zone" of some sort.  Nobody had an answer to the question of how many there should be in Costa Mesa.  Mention was made that there was, at one time, 44 such dispensaries and "they all were busy".  It was also reiterated that there are presently no state-wide standards for quality or strength as there is, for example, for alcohol.

I, personally, learned nothing new from this event.  There were many more questions than answers.  I've attended every public meeting on the issue over the past couple years.  Weitzberg stressed that the City needs to get out in front of the issue, to have an ordinance in place BEFORE either of the two initiatives which qualified for a ballot are placed before the voters.  There is still large questions about which law takes precedence.  Because the initiatives have tax elements it has been suggested that they may only be placed before the voters during a General Election, not a special election.

In the past the City Council majority has seemed not inclined to do much about this issue.  It is likely that litigation will take place because proponents of the two initiatives want their issues on a Special Election ballot.  However, those folks shot themselves in the foot by including tax elements which require them to be on a General Election ballot - the next one is 2016.

And, political rumblings indicate there is a good chance the State of California may have its own marijuana issue on that ballot.  All the more reason for our elected leaders to get off their collective duffs and get an ordinance that addresses the community concerns in place post haste!

I suggest you click HERE to read the City's press release from last month on the subject.  The City held a Special City Council meeting on December 16, 2014 on this issue.  You can read the staff report on that subject HERE.  That staff report has links to thirty-six (36) attachments, including the text of the three competing ordinances and maps to help us understand the issue.  You may also click HERE to view the video of that three hour meeting to hear the discussion.

You can also read Bradley Zint's Daily Pilot articles as a result of that council meeting HERE and HERE.  And, you can read my account of that meeting HERE.


I have no idea if there was further discussion of the issue after I left.  They took a short break and planned to go forward with the other items on their agenda.  I was, however, grateful for the chance to hear their discussion.  I didn't see nor hear from any representatives of the two initiatives.  I didn't see anyone from the "industry" except those mentioned above.  And, there was no representative of City Government present, either, to answer questions.

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Anonymous Ken Nyquist said...

Not that anyone reading this, if they do, cares what I think or write, but here goes anyway. I think alcohol is the worst drug on the planet and should be illegal, rather than marijuana. There is a world of difference in a person who drinks five shots of Wild Turkey verses five tokes on a joint. I will take the weed smoker any day of the week.

Since we live in a tiny slice of desert called Paradise Valley, (a mixture of Joshua Tree and Yucca Valley), our local legislative body is the Yucca Valley Town Council. Our public comments are held at the end of the meeting. This works very well here, since it allows the town’s business to be conducted first, before The Ed Sullivan Show comes on, with only one act in town. One of the reasons we live in Paradise Valley is due to the hard working people with a mind of their own, are pro democracy and are basically anti development.

On January 20th during our Town Council meeting, our local Medical Marijuana Initiative that had been qualified by the County of San Bernardino was on the agenda for a vote on which way to proceed.

During the City Attorney’s presentation, the Mayor turned to the audience with three questions about the direction they should go for us. It is refreshing to live in a town where your voice or raised hand makes a difference. We raised our hands to each question that fit our wishes, and the Council voted in the end to have town staff work with the initiatives author to meld the staff’s competing measure with the voter’s initiative into one non competitive measure, and get it on the next San Bernardino County elections, which should be before the end of this year, so the voter’s can decide.

1/28/2015 06:11:00 AM  
Anonymous Arthur Nern said...

Maybe you should just call Monahan. I'm sure he has his own "General Weed Plan" for the rest of us.

1/28/2015 06:53:00 AM  
Anonymous Arthur Nern said...

P.S. Can you imagine Riggy on "medical weed" ranting? That Richard Simmons voice would just get higher and higher until it cracked glass.

1/28/2015 06:58:00 AM  
Anonymous Where's My Coffee? said...

I'm with you, Geoff. I don't want to see dispensaries back in Costa Mesa. We have a barely functioning police force, who why would we want to bring more potential crime in town? We have an over abundance of rehab homes that we cannot seem to regulate, so why bring more potential problems with drugs? I understand, and feel bad for people that need "medical" marijuana but there are dispensaries in Santa Ana. Is that really all that difficult to drive to Santa Ana (where they have a complete police force)?

I know this is a NIMBY attitude, but I'm tired of what is going on here and need to draw a line in the sand somewhere, and this seems to be it.

I'm also curious to know why we need to "get out in front" of the initiative? What will happen if we don't? That is exactly the same language that Gary uses.

I hate to say it but I agree with Rig on this issue, that MMJ should be dispensed with other drugs with a prescription from a pharmacy. Why do we need separate dispensaries for this? Do we go to a dispensary for aspirin? For valium, for vicodin, for any other pain killer? Why do we need "dispensaries" which are vulnerable, to dispense this drug? I just see this as bringing in way more problems than this city is able to handle. I'm voting NO on this in every regard.

1/28/2015 08:02:00 AM  
Anonymous Dumb Biker said...

Though I consider pot to be rather benign I know it can be helpful however I think this will all be a moot point as recreational use will be legal soon. I do hope that new laws will specify lab testing and labeling.

1/28/2015 08:19:00 AM  
Anonymous Mary Ann O'Connell said...

For clarification: The club did invite two council members. One did not respond to any of our requests and the other informed us the council had a closed session last night.

1/28/2015 01:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Casual Viewer said...

Yes, according to the city calendar, the council had a closed session to discuss contract negotiations on Tuesday evening. However, I don't know if that would include all 5 council members, or just the ones not suing the police.

1/28/2015 02:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Eleanor Egan said...

If we had a fully staffed police department, I wouldn't be so concerned about enforcing reasonable rules and keeping drug cartels out. But we haven't enough cops as it is. We just had a home burglary last night in my neighborhood while the owner and her small children were sleeping. Apparently Costa Mesa is attracting criminals and is unable to stop criminal behavior. Shutting down cheap motels isn't helping - no surprise. What's going to happen if we hand the PD another enforcement headache?

1/28/2015 02:59:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Why do we need the police involved in cannabis anyway? Do we task our police department with monitoring beer and wine sales at 7-11? Is anyone of the belief that alcohol is safer than cannabis? I mean seriously if we can trust of age cit=zens to buy beer and wine and go home with it why do we need the police to monitor cannabis sales? The only thing dangerous about cannabis are the police.

2/22/2015 10:55:00 AM  

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