My View: Should Davis Re-Think its Policies on Medical Marijuana?

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marijuana-smokeThere is an item on the agenda for the Davis City Council this week, proposing an ordinance regulating marijuana cultivation. This item is necessitated by recently adopted legislation, the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act, to comprehensively regulate medical marijuana.

Under the law which took effect on January 1, the city is required to have land use regulations in place that regulate or prohibit marijuana cultivation. City staff notes, “If the City has local regulations in place, the City may thereafter modify these regulations to meet the needs and desires of the City. However, should the City not have local regulations in place (and the State does not take action to eliminate or modify the March 1 deadline), the City would be pre-empted from adopting local regulations in the future.”

While the state is potentially looking at giving local communities more time on this issue, staff notes, “Since the adoption of the Act, cities and counties throughout California have been put in the position of needing to make a decision to either allow the state regulations to take effect by default, or to craft and adopt ordinances that retain local control. The timeframe for local governments to take action is exceedingly short and, in many respects, unprecedented. The timeframe provided by the Act leaves little to no opportunity for local governments to undertake meaningful research and community outreach as would otherwise be expected when drafting local regulations.”

Assemblymember Jim Wood, the bill’s author, has written a letter to local officials on his intent to introduce an emergency bill to fix the March 1 deadline for local action, and the governor’s office has said it would support the measure.

The staff report notes that the city already bans medical marijuana dispensaries, “but does not regulate or prohibit medical marijuana cultivation.”

To me, the bigger and more important issue should be whether this community re-examines the ban on medical marijuana dispensaries, particularly in light of the new law which creates a comprehensive state licensing system for the commercial cultivation, manufacture, retail sale, transport, distribution, delivery, and testing of medical cannabis. All licenses must also be approved by local governments.

The biggest problem with medical marijuana prior to this legislation is that it was loosely controlled, in part because, while California legalized medical marijuana, the federal government not only continued to make it illegal, it attempted to enforce the law through raids. That forced medical marijuana out of the hands of legitimate doctors and into a quasi-black market situation.

The new legislation would “set forth standards for a physician and surgeon prescribing medical cannabis.” Among other things, it would regulate the amount of cannabis the physicians could prescribe to patients and prosecute those who “repeatedly recommended excessive cannabis to patients for medical purposes or repeatedly recommended cannabis to patients for medical purposes without a good faith examination, as specified.”

While I am a big supporter of legalized marijuana in general, and in particular for the alleviation of pain and suffering for a variety of patients, the previous laws were lax in getting the marijuana to those in need.

A Time Magazine from this past summer notes that marijuana has been difficult to study because of its classification as a schedule-1 drug. Thus, “there is only moderate-quality evidence supporting the benefits of medical marijuana, and only for certain conditions.”

Scientists led by Penny Whiting from University Hospitals Bristol in the U.K. analyzed 79 randomized trials, and most of the studies showed “improvements among the participants taking the cannabinoid products over those using placebo.” The strongest evidence supported the ability to relieve chronic pain, but “the least reliable evidence involved things like nausea and vomiting from chemotherapy, sleep disturbances and Tourette syndrome. Cannabinoids were, however, connected to more adverse events such as nausea, vomiting, dizziness, disorientation and hallucinations than placebo.”

Summing up the state of the evidence, Ms. Whiting and her colleagues write, “Further large, robust, randomized clinical trials are needed to confirm the effects of cannabinoids, particularly on weight gain in patients with HIV-AIDS, depression, sleep disorders, anxiety disorders, psychosis, glaucoma, and Tourette syndrome.”

Anecdotally, the evidence appears much stronger. I know a number of cancer patients who used marijuana in order to eat and therefore keep their strength while on chemotherapy, which enabled the body to recover much better than it would have otherwise.

For a so-called liberal community like Davis that overwhelming supported the medical marijuana initiative back in 1996, it is appalling that the voters would be willing to vote for medical marijuana but not allow people in need to receive it at dispensaries in this community.

Rather than looking at ordinances to ban cultivation of medical marijuana in the city, the city council should reconsider whether, in light of new regulations, we should have a ban on medical marijuana dispensaries.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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19 thoughts on “My View: Should Davis Re-Think its Policies on Medical Marijuana?”

    1. Frankly

      People think it promotes social decay?  It assaults their senses of decency?  It ruins their myth of Davis being like some small old European village?

      Or… Davis is controlled by grumpy old people that grew up in a generation where pot was kinda’ bad stuff and we don’t want bad stuff in our town.

      Probably all of the above.

  1. Tia Will

    For a so-called liberal community like Davis that overwhelming supported the medical marijuana initiative back in 1996, it is appalling that the voters would be willing to vote for medical marijuana but not allow people in need to receive it at dispensaries in this community.”

    It would be helpful for me to understand what changes occurred between 1996 when there was support for medical marijuana in Davis, and the time of the closure of the medical marijuana dispensary on E street ? Perhaps someone who followed this issue could share why that facility closed and why there has not been approval for another since.

     

  2. Topcat

    I wonder if a medical marijuana dispensary could be a good generator of tax revenue for the City?  The catchphrase could be “smoke a joint to fix a pothole” 🙂

    1. Miwok

      With 20K students of smoking age? You already have it.. They just will be able to buy it in Davis. You already have growers, but when I see normal kids from High School getting the Card, I am mystified about how they get it, then expect to be Educators and Truck Drivers when they drug test people in those jobs? I know a few high school dropouts who claim they “need it”.

      Let’s all give our kids a chance! Future Potheads of America!

      https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/stats/typical-day-fy2014

      1. Don Shor

        They tax marijuana in Oregon, which doesn’t even have a sales tax.
        Dispensaries tend to be very high traffic volume with a lot of near-neighbor issues. Every ordinance I’ve looked at restricts the locations with respect to residences, schools, etc. I can’t think of where a dispensary could even locate in Davis that wouldn’t cause issues.
        Cultivation is a whole different matter. The normal complaint has to do with the odor of the plants as they get close to harvest, which is odd and sometimes annoying to neighbors. Plus the security issue of outdoor cultivation.

      2. Topcat

        I can’t think of where a dispensary could even locate in Davis that wouldn’t cause issues.

        Yes, any proposed location will bring out the NIMBYs.  It would have to be somewhere away from schools and residences.  Perhaps the far east end of Chiles Road might work?

  3. Biddlin

    Are mobile dispensaries allowed there? A close family member had suffered with grand mal seizures, daily, since college, until he used cannabis. His “legal” supply was interrupted for a few days when he had to travel out of state. He had his first seizure in two years about a week into the forced abstinence. Since his return to California and his usual medication, he has been seizure free. It is unconscionable to deny medication to relieve such terrors.

    1. Tia Will

      Bidden

      “It is unconscionable to deny medication to relieve such terrors.

      I am sorry to hear about your relative’s problem. I could not agree more. I believe that we need to seriously revise our views on why some drugs are arbitrarily allowed to alter mood while others are criminalized. I think that we need to seriously revise our views about what we mean when we say that people should not have arbitrary restrictions placed upon their freedoms, and yet are willing to block attempts of an individual to relieve their physical very real distress with the only substance that they have found beneficial. I hope that your relative, and all those suffering will find a successful resolution that does not turn them into criminals.

  4. Tia Will

    I would offer a very simple solution to this issue. Marijuana is a drug, just as is alcohol just as are narcotic pain medications. I would recommend adopting the same regulations for marijuana in terms of restricted sales location as we currently offer for either alcohol or narcotics. We already have what we deem to be appropriate regulations for similar substances. Let’s just expand them to include marijuana.

    1. Topcat

      I would recommend adopting the same regulations for marijuana in terms of restricted sales location as we currently offer for either alcohol or narcotics. We already have what we deem to be appropriate regulations for similar substances. Let’s just expand them to include marijuana.

      This just makes too much sense.  The general population won’t support it and our politicians will never go for it 🙂

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