'SUBSTANTIAL' EVIDENCE FROM ONE SOURCE LEADS TO POT BAN
By Steven Tavares
@eastbaycitizen on twitter
City leaders in San Leandro are set Monday night to add to the 10-month moratorium it placed on medical marijuana facilities last November by passing an ordinance banning the business within city limits. The City Council instructed city staff to draft a proposed ordinance Feb. 28 that would begin after the moratorium expires in September.
San Leandro officials never had the political will to bring any form of the medical marijuana industry to the city and local special interests groups never trained their focus here either. A more vocal and detailed opposition by the U.S. Department of Justice in recent months also significantly cooled expanded cultivation facilities in Oakland and Berkeley leading to dampened enthusiasm for the burgeoning pot trade gaining traction.
In a staff report by Senior Planner Kathleen Livermore, the case against medical marijuana is detailed as a public safety issues leading to increased arrests for marijuana-related crime and unintended consequences such as a rise in DUI cases, money laundering and assault against customers of the medical marijuana facilities. Although the report notes "substantial" evidence against medical marijuana, it notes 11 documents for reference--all from the California Police Chiefs Association.
Despite the rush to ban the facilities in San Leandro, the city says no business application for any type of medical marijuana industry has been received. Last year, though, a group from Southern California showed interest in setting up a large-scale cultivation warehouse on Williams Street.
San Leandro Police Chief Sandra Spagnoli and her predecessor Ian Willis both registered opposition to the plan over the past year saying the facilities would become a magnet for increased crime. A San Leandro detective, though, gave evidence suggesting the use and cultivation in the city is wide-spread, so much so that any police deterrence would have little effect on stemming its popularity.
Support for medical marijuana and large-scale cultivation sites grew substantially after U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said the federal government would not make enforcement of medical marijuana law a priority. Nearby Oakland began taxing medical marijuana and became a beacon for the legalization movement, but the defeat of Proposition 19 quelled some of those voices. In some ways, Oakland's City Council may have overreached in attempting to sell permits for large cultivation warehouses leading to a return of stern warnings from the Department of Justice.
Like other East Bay cities, San Leandro was merely playing follow the leader. A similar conversation with medical marijuana in Hayward last year contained nearly all of the same questions posed by law enforcement in San Leandro with city attorney's nervous to take anything but a highly conservative legal path nearly always following the precedent of attorney's in Oakland and Alameda County.