City officials appear ready to embrace the marijuana industry in the wake of major pot-related licensing changes at the state level and California voters’ consideration in November to legalize recreational cannabis. In the coming weeks, the council is scheduled to consider voting on an ordinance with a variety of rules and prohibitions for dispensaries, but broadly one that is accepting of medicinal marijuana and even embraces the industry.
Council members less than a month ago, in a 4-0 vote, supported moving ahead on further research for a local Medicinal Marijuana Administrative Ordinance. That vote allowed the city manager to put out a request for proposals from firms to analyze city costs from such changes before council members consider the ordinance for final adoption Aug. 1.
All indications point to a peaceful approval, which would represent a reversal from the city’s viewpoint in early 2010 when the council unanimously OK’d a ban against dispensaries, prompting the Purple Cross Rx club to move from its location on main street to a building along Highway 25. County supervisors followed up the city move with a dispensary ban of their own, leaving medicinal marijuana users no choice but to travel for their cannabis, taking their money along with them.
Those decisions were the result of local politicians appeasing a vast minority in this community’s waning old guard who have continued to dismiss the marijuana culture as some sort of lawless mutiny. Facts, however, are facts. And Hollister council members are showing this town’s leaders are smart enough to see through the opposition’s cloud of cigarette smoke.
Most important on the acceptance side, California voters approved medicinal marijuana in 1996. That’s two decades ago, and it’s plenty of time for anyone against marijuana to get over their personal angst and accept that majority rules in a democracy.
Beyond the law, medicinal marijuana does actually have many health benefits when consumed properly. It is known to ease nausea in people undergoing cancer treatments, help increase appetites for people who are HIV-positive, support consistent sleep patterns for those with insomnia, ease anxiety and do much more. According to cancer.org, cannabis has been used in herbal remedies for centuries.
On the recreational side, like with any adult product (think alcohol and cigarettes), tightly regulating the marijuana industry will help to curtail potential social impacts, give authorities more direct access to the industry and any legal problems that might arise, and provide additional streams of tax revenue.
That said, skeptics deserve a voice at the table, too, while local officials must remember that the devil’s in the details with marijuana dispensaries like it is with most anything else.
For instance, it is important to keep any prospective dispensary out of the heavily trafficked downtown area where this community rightfully encourages families to spend time. It is equally important to weigh restrictions as they pertain to distances from schools, parks and other facilities where children meet.
As long as the council makes sensible decisions on those details—and we hope the county does on a similar ordinance, too—they’re headed in the right direction with the future of cannabis in Hollister.