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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

San Leandro Debates Second Extension of Pot Dispensary Moratorium

City staff in San Leandro are proposing Tuesday night that the City Council reauthorize a year-long moratorium on issuing business permits to the proprietors of medical marijuana dispensaries.

Over the past two years the council has vacillated between a willingness to listen to various proposals allowing the pot trade to flourish in San Leandro and outright contempt. Despite the disapproval of Mayor Stephen Cassidy and Councilwoman Joyce Starosciak and Diana Souza, the issue is still unresolved and may continue that way.

In October 2010, Councilman Jim Prola was able to cajole an agreement to institute a shorter 10-month moratorium ending at the end of this month. Opponents called for a longer 22-month moratorium.

Although, the majority of the board may possess neither the political will or taste to further discuss the possibility of dispensaries sprouting around San Leandro, some members felt information provided by city staff in May skewed too far toward law enforcement. Vice Mayor Michael Gregory and Prola both referenced a 400-page white paper authored by state law enforcement that appeared to them as outdated.

Prola, who represents District 6 surrounding the Marina, has been the city's strongest advocate for placing regulations on medical marijuana. His position was buoyed last year after a San Leandro narcotics detective described the extreme prevalence of elicit marijuana growing and selling in the city.

“I honestly believe the crime is created by the prohibition,” argued Prola last May and who later said, “We’re allowing gangs and drug cartels to fill in the gap. We’re encouraging crime by not regulating it and controlling it like other cities are doing.”

Like many other East Bay cities, San Leandro is looking towards Oakland's handling of their bustling medical marijuana trade and regulations for guidance. Renewing the moratorium in San Leandro costs the city nothing and, if approved, would run until Sept. 30, 2012.

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