In the face of legal confusion, crackdowns by US attorneys, pending lawsuits and legislation and maybe a ballot measure to legalize pot, the Mammoth Town Council did not approve a medical marijuana dispensary moratorium.
Police Chief Dan Watson presented all of the pending issues circling medical marijuana right now. He recommended a moratorium on any new dispensaries in Town because of the legal uncertainties. Two years ago, the voters approved an ordinance to establish two dispensaries in Mammoth. Last year, one of the two closed. Since then, Chief Watson said the police department has heard from two parties who want to open a second dispensary, but considering the confusion over medical marijuana he suggested a moratorium until legal definitions clear up.
Clayton Bogen stood up to object to the moratorium. He raised issues of no competition with just one dispensary. He revealed that he stood ready to apply for the open dispensary permit.
Councilman John Eastman said he brought the issue forward on the agenda. He pointed out that Mammoth voters supported an ordinance with two dispensaries. Eastman said, “It’s not appropriate for the Town staff to go against the voters of Mammoth Lakes.” Eastman said he thinks it’s appropriate not to have a moratorium and to allow the second dispensary to exist. He said if individuals or groups want to open a dispensary with the current risks, “then that’s a decision they make,” he said. Eastman said he also supports competition.
Councilman Skip Harvey agreed with Eastman and said he did not think the US attorney would focus on the “little guy in Mammoth.” Harvey said he also supports a small tax on medical marijuana.
Eastman made a motion to reject the urgency ordinance for a medical marijuana moratorium. All five supported the motion. The Council indicated they would look into a fee or tax to pay for costs associated with the Town administration of medical marijuana dispensaries.