Posted: 10:32 AM PDT Sep 30, 2015 on KSBW
After imposing a ban on medical marijuana dispensaries eight years ago, the Salinas City Council is now considering lifting that ban.
It’s not a decision councilmembers want to rush into.
Tuesday night they approved a 45-day moratorium on medical pot clubs.
“Whatever we do, it has to be right. We get one shot at this so it’s a matter of how do we do this how do we make it,” Mayor Joe Gunter said.
The council heard from both sides at a study session Tuesday night.
“I can’t see any real good (results) in regards to opening up this in our city to have places for people to go and just get it at free will,” a pastor who deals with drug addicts said.
A woman who suffers from multiple sclerosis urged the council to overturn the ban.
“It’s not the same pot that my brother smoked in the 70’s and became a couch potato. It really is medicine,” she said.
Another speaker told the council that allowing medical pot clubs and then taxing them could provide an economic windfall for the city.
“We can use those tax dollars in two ways: one, we can help our police department so they can enforce, they can get more services out there; and two, we can provide funding for youth education,” the speaker said.
But that is one of the questions the council has to grapple with before they make any decision regarding the future of medical pot clubs; how will the dispensaries be taxed, regulated and the community safeguarded?
“The cannabis business community wants the same thing. We don’t want to go out there with any ordinance just to say we’re open for business. We want to make sure it works with the community,” Aaron Johnson, an attorney who represents more than 100 dispensaries on the Central Coast said.
After a nearly two-hour discussion, the council voted to impose the temporary ban on medical pot and send it to a subcommittee for more study.
The only no vote was from Councilman Jose Castaneda.
“If we truly cared about people in our city, we would have study sessions of the 27 homicides that have already happened in the city,” said Castaneda.
Three people were killed Monday night, sending the murder rate to 27 homicides for the year in Salinas.
Medical marijuana dispensaries will go back to the city council Oct. 27, at which time they will consider whether to extend the moratorium beyond 45 days.