A divided San Leandro City Council has once again delayed a decision on , but lawmakers inched closed toward a policy at a lengthy and emotional meeting Monday night.
In a compromise worked out by Councilmembers Pauline Cutter and Diana Souza, the council will take up the issue again in July.
At that time, the council will consider a ban that would expire in June 2013.
Cutter's measure won the votes of every council member except Jim Prola, who has been most ardent in favor of regulating and taxing medical marijuana.
Timing turned out the be the crux of the compromise.
San Leandro's lawmakers have gone back and forth in recent years, mostly in the direction of banning marijuana. A moratorium on pot facilities is in effect until September 30.
City staffers told the council that the city should have an ordinance in place by then, to either ban or regulate pot facilties, or else it could be sued by a clinic applicant.
Cutter wanted the decision delayed until after the state legislature has had time to complete action on AB2312, which would provide a legal framework for cities that want to ban or regulate clinics.
Reconsidering the issue in July would allow the council to see what rules the state may come up with, while still allowing enough time to pass an ordinance before the expiration of the current moratorium at the end of September.
Sousa had wanted the council to wait until after January, when the state Supreme Court is supposed to issue rulings that are expected to clarify the rules regarding pot facilities.
But if the council does adopt a ban in July with a one-year sunset clause, it would give the council a deadline for taking the Supreme Court ruling into consideration.
Public interest was high.
The council heard more than a dozen speakers from the public before making its decision.
Speakers in favor of the ban included:
- Deborah Cox said legalizing pot clinics "sends mixed messages to our youth."
- Claudia McHenry said he worked next to a dispensary in Oakland and saw the same four guys in a car show up day after day, adding that it was not credible that they were patients.
- Cindy Cathey, who is San Leandro School's Superintentdent, but spoke on her own behalf, said "marijuana can even be a bigger issue for us on campus than alcohol."
Speakers who urged the council to reject or delay the ban included:
Diana Prola, a school board member speaking on her own behalf, talked about visiting a sick friend who used medical marijuana. She urged council members to "regulate it and . . . make it accessible to the people who need it."
Mike Katz, another school board member, took issue with the police presentation. Alcohol is involved with eight times as many arrests as marijuana, but no one is suggesting banning liquor stores, he said.
Chris Crow, who is running for city council, urged the council to put the pot issue before voters as a ballot initiative in November.