Downey City Council extends ban on medical marijuana dispensaries

DOWNEY – In their first meeting of 2016, Downey City Council unanimously voted on Tuesday to amend municipal codes 9428 and 9146, thus maintaining and adding to the city’s current prohibition on medical marijuana dispensaries. 

Currently, municipal code 9428 states that “it is unlawful to for any person or entity to own, manage, conduct, or operate any medical marijuana dispensary or to participate as an employee, contractor, agent or volunteer, or in any other manner or capacity, in any medical marijuana dispensary in the City of Downey.” Code 9146 contains definitions. 

With the council’s recent decision, prohibition on cultivation, delivery, testing, and manufacturing will be added to code 9428.

Downey Mayor Pro Tem Fernando Vasquez said that he had received correspondence from the community both for and against the amendments, however Tuesday’s meeting saw only two community members come forward to address the issue.

One resident, Irene Hesse, said that “to ban cannabis in the City of Downey is against our rights as Cannabis medicinal use patients.”

Hesse also asked the council to consider waiting till a later date to decide on the amendments in order to look into other options. 

“There’s many ideas for dispensary. I know that we can comply by the state laws if we look into and get more education on it.” 

Another citizen, who asked to be referred to as Advocate Herman, echoed some of Hesse’s thoughts on postponing the decision, however did not take a specific side. 

“I personally am not for it, nor am I against it…I can’t measure what the situation is here tonight other than know  for a fact that how I’ve seen one individual in my life change to live two years is better than watch someone die and suffer in cancer [or] some uncontrollable disease.”

Addressing both speakers and the public response that he had received, Mayor Pro Tem Vasquez said that he understood the benefits of a dispensary in the city, including economically, however “it’s not always about the taxes.”

“Unfortunately right now there’s a conflict between state and federal law,” said Vasquez.  “Based on what I’ve seen there are insufficient control mechanisms to regulate the use of medical marijuana right now. I don’t think it’s the time and place for the city right now to be allowing medical marijuana dispensaries, cultivation, distribution, and so on. There just are insufficient policies and procedures right now at state level and the federal; they can’t get their act together. So until they do, we at the local level are forced to be able to take control of the situation.”

Council member Roger Brossmer said that “there is a clear difference between use and sale.” Brossmer declined to comment on his opinion of marijuana use, however did say, “I just don’t want it sold in this city.”

Mayor Alex Saab mirrored Vasquez’s and Brossmer’s opinions.

“I’m not here to judge; we’re not here to judge. Whether you use or not, that’s your own personal decision and that’s not the decision before us,” said Saab. “Until we’re able to regulate it just like we do prescription drug out of a pharmacy…then I probably wouldn’t feel comfortable going forward in approving something like this.”