The Town of Mammoth continues to deliberate over whether or not medical marijuana dispensaries are the right thing for its citizenry. A public hearing was held at the Dec. 16 Town Council meeting to discuss extending the urgency ordinance imposing a moratorium on such dispensaries past the original 45 days.
Police Chief, Randy Schienle, who has been an opponent of the dispensaries but has still been willing to cooperate with the committee tasked with developing an ordinance, requested that the moratorium be extended its full tenure of 10 months and 15 days. This means an ordinance would not have to be written and approved or denied until Nov. 17, 2010.
Steve Klassen and Tony Barrett, members of the committee working with Schienle, believed an ordinance could be written and reviewed well before that.
“The bones of an ordinance are already there,” Barrett said in reference to
Klassen’s business plan that was already written up and covered many of the issues that an ordinance would need to address. Barrett felt it was simply fear of the unknown that would cause the process to last the full 10 and a half months and suggested giving Klassen a temporary use permit to open a dispensary so that everyone could see how it would function.
The legalities of the extension, and whether or not the Town would only be allowed to extend the moratorium this once were unclear. It was clear, however, that once an extension date was set, it could be terminated early if the Town made its decision sooner. The Town Council members felt that an issue such as this one was larger than five people at the dais. It was suggested that the issue be taken to the public for a vote, even though an ordinance would need to be written by January 2010 to get it on the June ballot.
Klassen, while very optimistic that a vote of this nature would have no problem passing, was deterred by the Council’s thinking.
“I am offering myself as a solution in this issue, which means I want to help you spend as little as possible to get this done,” Klassen said. He felt the Council should just make the decision because that was the way all other counties and towns had come to decide whether or not dispensaries were right for them. Council, however, felt that if approved through a public vote, the ordinance would be that much stronger.
They approved the Nov. 17, 2010 deadline extension with the caveat that the ordinance would be put on the June ballot and if approved the moratorium would be dropped at that time.
The Committee was then charged with having an ordinance written in time for a public hearing at the Jan. 27, 2010 Planning Commission meeting. The ordinance will then need to be approved by the Council at their February meetings in order to make the March deadline for items to be put on the June ballot.