In an attempt to get a jump on upcoming state laws, the Morgan Hill City Council amended its medical marijuana ordinance to prohibit the delivery and cultivation of the medicine within the city limits.
The addition to the ordinance, which has prohibited medical marijuana dispensaries in the city since 2011, was recommended by the Morgan Hill Police Department.
In October, Gov. Jerry Brown signed the “Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act,” which becomes effective Jan. 1, 2016, according to MHPD Capt. Jerry Neumayer. Among other provisions, this law allows local cities and counties to enact ordinances prohibiting marijuana cultivation, processing, delivery and dispensaries. If a city does not enact such an ordinance by March 1, the state may issue licenses for local cultivation up to 100 square feet per residence.
Thus, now is the right time to prohibit these activities if the city intends to do so, Neumayer explained.
Although there is “no express deadline” to prohibit medical marijuana delivery in Morgan Hill, if the city does not adopt such a ban before the state begins issuing licenses, it is anticipated that a state licensed delivery service would be allowed, police said.
“This is the best practice for local governments as, although adoption of an ordinance banning deliveries after the state begins to issue licenses is permitted, it may be difficult to terminate the state licensee’s deliveries at that time,” Neumayer explained in a city staff report.
The council approved the ordinance amendments unanimously, but only after hearing from one member of the public who opposed it.
Morgan Hill resident Doug Muirhead said he opposes the ban of dispensaries, as well as the new prohibitions approved by the council Dec. 16. He added that the latest ordinance was approved without any apparent effort to engage or inform the community.
“Prop 215 (the 1996 state medical marijuana law) was passed by a vote of the people,” Muirhead said. “Santa Clara County supported it, and our city supported it (with) 60 percent (voting yes). You effectively prohibit medical use by prohibiting supply.”
Neumayer added that “several California cities” have reported negative impacts to the public resulting from marijuana cultivation, processing and distribution activities. These include illegals sales, trespassing, theft, robberies, fire hazards and public health problems associated with mold and bugs.
Muirhead complained that this section of the staff report cited “unnamed cities.”
“Based on these negative impacts found in other jurisdictions, the Police Department believes cultivation, delivery, and dispensing of medicinal marijuana in Morgan Hill could result in higher crime, secondary negative social impacts, as well as complicated and costly enforcement efforts,” Neumayer said.