City of Albany Medical Marijuana Dispensary Advisory Measure. Do you support the establishment of a single medical marijuana dispensary in the City of Albany, to be subject to regulations that the City Council will incorporate into the Municipal Code prior to consideration of any permit for such a dispensary?
A YES vote on this advisory measure will indicate your support for the City Council enacting a medical marijuana dispensaries ordinance which would permit the establishment of a single medical marijuana dispensary. A NO vote will indicate your support for prohibiting the establishment of a medical marijuana dispensary.
In 1996 the voters of California approved Proposition 215 The Compassionate Use Act, which allowed Californians to obtain marijuana for medical purposes where deemed appropriate by a physician. 79.5% of Albany voters voted for Proposition 215. In 2003 the State Legislature approved a bill adding California Health and Safety §11362.83, which provides "nothing in this article should prevent a city or other local governing body from adopting and enforcing laws consisting with this article". In 2005 the United States Supreme Court issued the decision Gonzales v. Raich that confirmed that the commerce clause empowers Congress to prohibit cultivation and use of marijuana for medical purposes authorized by California law. This decision does not ban the establishment of medical marijuana dispensaries in the State of California, but creates a somewhat awkward situation in that federal law enforcement officers may continue to enforce federal drug laws against Californians who cultivate and use medical marijuana.
Nevertheless, the California Attorney General has continued to authorize the State Department of Health Services to issue medical marijuana identification cards. A number of California cities have continued to enact ordinances permitting the establishment of medical marijuana dispensaries subject to regulatory provisions. In other words, it still appears that in California local jurisdictions can pass ordinances which regulate and allow the establishment of marijuana dispensaries.
Background in the City of Albany
In 2005 the City received an inquiry about establishing a medical marijuana dispensary. The City did not have any specific regulations that would control or regulate such dispensaries. In May of 2005 the City Council, upon the recommendation of staff, adopted a moratorium restricting and prohibiting the establishment of any marijuana dispensary until this matter was studied. At that time, Council gave direction to staff to come back with options of draft ordinances either to permit or to prohibit dispensaries for Council consideration. The Council decided to place an advisory measure to the voters before it decided whether to enact an ordinance to permit or to prohibit a medical marijuana dispensary. The drafts of the ordinances that have been preliminarily reviewed by the Planning and Zoning Commission and City Council can be obtained from the City Clerk's office.
California cities have prohibited and permitted medical marijuana dispensaries. For instance, Berkeley and Oakland permit them; El Cerrito and Concord prohibit them. Where dispensaries have been permitted, law enforcement agencies have reported secondary effects in the community, such as increased crime and other quality of life/neighborhood issues.
If a facility is permitted by ordinance, the City likely will incur costs for monitoring and enforcing regulations, as well as potential demands on law enforcement personnel.
/s Robert Zweben
Albany City Attorney