The Poway City Council on Friday voted to extend an ordinance temporarily prohibiting the establishment of medical marijuana dispensaries, collectives and cooperatives.
The ordinance, which was approved by a 5-0 vote, gives city staff an additional 10 months and 15 days to study land-use zones for the possible establishment of the businesses.
City Attorney Morgan L. Foley said staff may or may not need the full 10 months to complete the study, but “just to be safe” they were asking for the maximum time. The initial urgency ordinance, approved July 6, was only valid for 45 days.
Now staff have another 10 months for research, but some Powegians say they’ve had long enough.
“This should have been an action item when the law was passed. Actions should have been done, preparations made,” resident Pete Neild said to the council, referring to California's Compassionate Use Act enacted in 1996 to legalize medical marijuana use.
The moratorium ordinance comes after a businessman was denied a permit to establish a medical marijuana dispensary in the city of Poway in April.
Resident Kyle Shean, in addressing the council, said the city has had 15 years to research medical marijuana use and shouldn’t be “jumping around to regulate it” now that someone is seeking a permit for a dispensary.
But some people welcomed the extra time to research the issue. Others went further to push for a permanent ban.
Will Cheesman, who lives in Carmel Mountain Ranch in San Diego, said he’s seen what dispensaries have done in San Diego and he doesn't want that influence to spread to Poway. Cheesman, who said he has a young son, said the presence of dispensaries would encourage children to use marijuana.
Councilman Dave Grosch, in voting to extend the ban, said protecting kids is a top priority in the city of Poway.
Two local parents offered different perspectives on how marijuana has affected their children.
There was Sherrie Rubin, whose 29-year-old son Aaron, a graduate, overdosed on Oxycontin in 2005 and is now a quadriplegic. Rubin guided her son through a series of questions where he, by holding up one finger for yes and two fingers for no, said he doesn’t think kids should use marijuana. Aaron Rubin also indicated that, contrary to some people’s assertion that marijuana doesn’t cause as much damage as alcohol, he had driven a car and crashed while high on marijuana.
But then there was Leslie Vanslager, an emergency room nurse who said medical marijuana helped someone she knows overcome alcoholism. Not a shift goes by without someone coming into the hospital with a major alcohol-related issue, she said.
“Marijuana—not so much,” Vanslager said, adding that though she wouldn’t use it herself, she wants to uphold the right for others to do so.
Others, such as Neild, said medical marijuana should be available to military members returning from the war with medical issues.
Deputy Mayor Jim Cunningham agreed.
“I agree access is very important, especially to our soldiers coming back,” Cunningham said.
But access doesn't have to come from Poway, Cunningham said, citing the presence of a dispensary in Rancho Bernardo.
“That provides great solace to me,” Cunningham said of the close proximity of the RB dispensary.
Council members urged city staff to conduct their research quickly so a permanent solution can be found.
The meeting was adjourned in honor of San Diego police officer Jeremy Henwood, who was shot and killed last weekend while in his patrol car. A funeral service for the slain officer was held in San Diego earlier Friday.
Local Editor Hoa Quách contributed to this report.