By Lani Cleveland — President- Vallejo Patient’s Coalition
The Vallejo Patient’s Coalition recently met with Mayor Osby Davis to discuss the medical cannabis quagmire the city of Vallejo is currently in. As representatives of the patients of this community we had a number of questions and concerns to present to the mayor and he did his best to address them. The meeting started off rough as we have differing opinions on what is best for Vallejo however by meeting’s end we had found a common ground and a foundation from which we can begin to work to close the burgeoning gap that is prevalent with this controversial issue.
The mayor, who has been opposed to a Community Advisory Board on this issue, has agreed that it makes sense to have some cannabis and patient experts weighing in on issues such as patient care, compassion programs, quality of medication, etc… The Vallejo Patient’s Coalition has been asked to put together a proposal for how such a Community Advisory Board would work. We would love any input on this proposal at VallejoPatientsCoalition.com.
We have seen an evolution from the Mayor and the City Council that many in this community did not feel was ever possible. It shows us that when you stand up for what you believe in and continue to educate and inform people you really can make a difference.
While we were unable to make any headway on the number of dispensaries, so many patients feel 4 is not enough for so many reasons, there is still room to work this issue out and it will end up being the will of the voters. The mayor feels that if enough citizens really want medical cannabis in this city it will be decided by an election.
What does this mean exactly? The MC11, a group of tax paying dispensaries that has been fighting for the patients of Vallejo for years, has put together a referendum that will put the city council’s ordinance on hold for 30 days. During that 30 days the Vallejo cannabis community has to gather 10,000 signatures. MC11 has hired a reputable signature company to gather 10,000 signatures but we need people to sign this petition so it is up to us to spread the word.
Once we have enough signatures, the referendum will repel the city council’s ordinance and hopefully take the city council back to the drawing board. This will further protect the patients of Vallejo, including patients like little 10 month old Madison, whose father spoke at the May 12th city council meeting about her debilitating epilepsy disorder, from having to worry about losing their medicine for even one day.
In about two weeks the initiative that the MC11 has also put together will have a name. This initiative is for an ordinance that the MC11, with consultants, has put together. It is a much more fair and balanced approach to what is currently happening. Once the initiative has a name it goes to the city council to either enact it or put it on a ballot.
Despite many, many pleas from the citizens of Vallejo for the city council to hit the pause button and take some time to craft an ordinance that all of Vallejo can live with , it is felt that this issue will be placed on a ballot and presented to the citizens of Vallejo to weigh in on. With an issue as polarizing as medical cannabis this looks like the only course of action. Once and for all we can answer the question- does Vallejo really want medical cannabis dispensaries?
The Vallejo Patient’s Coalition’s answer is, “Yes, we do!” Not only do we want them but we need them. When you erase the stigma surrounding the cannabis plant all that you are left with is a plant that has few side effects and helps so many ailments. What you are left with is a holistic, alternative approach to medical care. How can that be bad for Vallejo and how can that money possibly be looked at as tainted?
Our hope is that on Tuesday the city council will take their ordinance back to the drawing board. At one point, at the time of the moratorium, the city said to the citizens of Vallejo this is our acceptable number of dispensaries. When Measure C was voted in the voters said ok now let’s tax and regulate these acceptable dispensaries. The city happily accepted taxes but neglected to regulate, leading to the glut of dispensaries we now have in this city. We hope that the city council does the right thing and grandfather in the compliant, tax-paying dispensaries, allow compliance and the market to determine the number and regulate the non-compliant dispensaries.
Whatever the city council decides to do one thing is clear, this fight is far from over and there are still many things that we can do to shape an ordinance that is best for the patients and citizens of Vallejo. If you would like to get involved or get updates on what is happening please visit our website at www.vallejopatientscoalition.com
Note: All opinions expressed in this column are those of the writer and not necessarily those of the Vallejo Independent Bulletin