After receiving a letter from the U.S. attorney’s office warning of possible criminal charges, the Chico City Council finalized its decision Sept. 6 to repeal the latest of medical marijuana ordinances.
The council had previously approved the ordinance on July 5, which allowed two dispensaries for medicinal marijuana to operate within Chico city limits.
It would have taken effect 30 days later on Aug. 4, but was instead revoked after Mayor Ann Schwab received a letter from U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner.
The contents of the letter suggested that city council members could face several criminal charges, including conspiracy for aiding and abetting the sale of an illegal substance, Schwab said. The letter defined the issue’s importance.
“Oh my god,” she said. “This is serious.”
The city council passed a motion to amend the ordinance on Aug. 2.
By the end of the following city council meeting on Aug. 16, the council determined the best course of action was to repeal the ordinance, meaning no changes to cultivation or distribution laws within the city limits, said Dani Brinkley, the city clerk administrative assistant.
The Aug. 2 vote to repeal the ordinance passed 4-3, Andy Holcombe, Scott Gruendl and Mary Flynn in opposition, Brinkley said.
A final vote on Sept. 6 finalized the motion and passed 5-1, with Gruendl in opposition and Mary Flynn absent.
Schwab suggested the council limit its involvement in how the medicinal marijuana is sold, and keep the issue restricted to land-use, a concept supported by Holcombe.
The land use ordinance should dictate how many dispensaries can fit within the designated zones, Holcombe said.
Holcombe made clear that his decision to approve the repeal was not in response to the letter sent by the U.S. attorney.
“Doing something because the U.S. attorney said we should do it is absolutely wrong and should be given no credence and no credibility,” he said.
Even though growing medicinal marijuana is illegal on the federal level, Holcombe said he has a regional responsibility.
“It is our civic duty, I think, to protect the public and our community,” he said.
Holcombe voted in favor of the repeal so that it may come to the council once again as a land-use ordinance in the future, he said.
Schwab, who voted against the ordinance from the beginning, was against the ordinance in particular and not the distribution of medicinal marijuana itself, she said.
She hopes to see the issue of medicinal marijuana brought before council again “sooner, rather than later,” she said.
– Article originally from The Orion