By Doug Darling
There has been a lot of comments in the local newspaper and other media outlets about a recent City Council meeting here in Vallejo that resulted in 2 Major Policy decisions getting addressed. It should be pointed out, neither decision will be implemented overnight.
Here is what happened on the evening of 1/13/15
1, City Council agreed to regulate MMDs.
2, City Council agreed to close down ALL storefront businesses currently selling marijuana. (To enforce land use codes)
The Medicinal Advocates got what they wanted, a Policy decision to approve and regulate Medical Marijuana in the City of Vallejo.
It will take 6-9 months to get the Regulatory Framework in order.
The concerned community got what they wanted, the proposed elimination of the proliferation of stores selling marijuana in Vallejo.
The concerned residents are not celebrating or dancing in the streets, we are just glad to know that Vallejo is willing to regain control of how storefront businesses operate in Vallejo. No comment yet from City Staff on a time line for closing down current storefront operations.
As much as this should be a WIN-WIN for both sides, this does not appear to be the case. The MMD Operators and Advocates are crying FOUL. I will point out and rebut some of the most common complaints. During the City Council meeting the City Attorney made it clear, that regardless how you attempt to regulate, there will be Litigation. Because they will have to be shut down sooner or later and regardless how you attempt to do that, lawsuits will follow.
These are the most common complaints, in no specific order.
#1, Clients will be denied access to their Medicine.
Answer, The City is not denying anyone’s rights under Senate Bill 420 or Prop 215. State law clearly states that any collective or otherwise must be in compliance with local codes and ordinances. Here in Vallejo, none of the storefront businesses are in compliance with local codes. If people want to help other people in a collective nature, they are welcome to do so, just as they were doing before all the storefronts popped up.
#2, This decision goes against the will of the voters, (referring to measure C, taxing the dispensaries).
Answer, Measure C is still active, if your operating, your supposed to be paying taxes. Measure C is not being revoked. The voters only approved taxation, they did not approve, operations in City limits. Measure C is a misconception, it was putting the cart before the horse. The message City Staff put before the Council back then was this, “since they are here we might as well tax them” Measure C does not over-ride land use codes for the City of Vallejo. These storefronts are still in violation of land use.
#3, Why is Mayor Davis so set on closing down the clubs.
Answer, While I cant speak for the Mayor I can say, Mayor Davis opposed Measure C in 2011. He precisely stated it was putting the cart before the horse. Having 20-40 businesses in Vallejo selling marijuana without business licenses is a quality of life matter. It is an Image matter. It sends a negative message to other businesses that do have business licenses. It is a Land-use matter. Storefront sales of marijuana is not an approved land-use.
#4, The City took a step backwards.
Answer, The City took 2 steps forward! City Council approved to regulate MMDs in Vallejo. Council also agreed to enforce local land-use policies. That is a win-win.
#5, Heads should roll. (those who voted to shut down dispensaries should be recalled)
Answer, The majority of Council members who voted to shut down and stop the proliferation of clubs also voted to approve regulating MMDs in Vallejo. Therefore, you would be recalling those who support MMDs.
#6, What about liquor stores and pharmaceuticals.
Answer, Please see “Bait and Switch” try Wiki….
#7, All those with tax certificates should be allowed to stay open.
Answer, Sure, why not, if I was a club owner, I would say the same thing:) Vallejo does not need 11 clubs. The Council made it clear that 11 clubs is too many. Some Council members made it clear that 2 would be their preference, others suggested 4 would be OK. The only rational way to address this is to close them all down, again, they are ALL in non compliance. There will be litigation and the only responsible way for the City to address that is to close all the storefronts at the same time.
#8, Wasted tax dollars (by closing all MMDs)
Answer, If the City attempted any other way to regulate, without 1st closing down ALL MMDs, the cost of Litigation would far outweigh any proposed lost tax dollars. By allowing some to stay open while others were shut down would be inviting lawsuits based on discrimination.
Lets get to the bottom dollar! This is after all, about the DOLLAR! Understand that there will be lawsuits regardless how the City handles this matter! Understanding the threats of Litigation is key in going forward. One of the storefront operators made that perfectly clear when he spoke at the Council meeting, he promised to sue if the City attempted to shut him down. He just couldn’t hold his tongue. That is the nature of the beast that we are up against!
Council was smart enough to realize, you cant pick and choose who stays open and who doesn’t. To reduce litigation, they must all receive cease and desist orders. You do not have to be a lawyer to see that showing favoritism in this case would not bode well in front of any Judge. Since they are all equally in non compliance with land use codes, they can all equally be issued orders to cease and desist. (The City Attorney alluded to that in absolutely as few words as possible).
The MMD Industry will no doubt attempt to stop the closures here in Vallejo. Measure C is their argument, that the voters have spoken, they say. Well, Measure C is alive and well, it is not going anywhere. It was not a vote to approve land use. It was not a vote to regulate. It was not a vote of amnesty. It was a vote to TAX those who were operating in non compliance, that is what Measure C was and still is. The Measure C argument is moot.
Even though City Council agreed on 1/13/15 to create Policy for MMD regulations here in Vallejo, the Industry is preparing to fight back. Even though we approved to regulate them, they are going to attempt to sue this City when cease and desist orders come out against those who are in non compliance with land use. They are willing to let you and I, the taxpayers pick up the cost of Litigation. They have no problem letting you and I pick up the tab and at the same time they will blame the City for these lawsuits and expect you to blame the City too:)
It is simple to understand that the ONLY possible way to move forward is to stop and start over. Of course the Industry will never admit that. Future Regulatory Framework will most likely include an RFQ process for determining qualified MMD operations.
Odds are that few if any of the current storefront operators would be able to fill the requirements of an RFQ process for Vallejo.
Because City Staff and City Council dragged their feet through the recent years does not make them at blame for the current violations of land use policies. The aggressive nature of this Industry (lawsuits) is much of the reason City of Vallejo has acted slowly. Storefront Operators gambled here in Vallejo, they knew that from the beginning and they know that now, though none will willingly admit it.
MMDs should not threaten lawsuits. They should accept the recent decision to Regulate by complying with cease and desist letters when those letters arrive. Instead they are spreading a campaign called, Save Measure C. Suggesting that all taxpaying storefronts be allowed to stay open. That would be about 1 dozen. Like a scene out of a Reality show, they will organize now in groups, to take the others. When the time comes, will this dozen then attempt to take out each other?
Are the MMDs really that oblivious to the reality of what is happening? Do they really believe for a moment that the City of Vallejo or the Residents would approve of 11 storefront locations in Vallejo? There is no chance in hell of that ever happening, but they are willing to dupe you into fighting this battle for them. They are willing to dupe you, the taxpayer into paying the legal expense when they file frivolous lawsuits against the City.
If your willing to support this campaign, than you better be willing to pay for it too:)
http://www.savemeasurec.com/home.html This is the Measure C propaganda being proposed after City Council voted to approve regulating MMDs in Vallejo.
Vallejo, wake up, don’t be duped, or should I say, doped. If you buy into this propaganda, than you, have been roped and doped!
Apparently the City Council agreeing to regulate MMDs wasn’t good enough, now the MMDs want to put the spin factor on Measure C. Question is, how naive are you??? Don’t be naive, be informed.
Chapter 5.05 Marijuana Business License Tax can be found here. It is cut and dry. https://web.archive.org/web/20121209005024/http://www.ci.vallejo.ca.us/uploads/983/Ord 1652 – Marijuana Tax Measure.pdf.
Enough is enough. Write or call your Mayor and Council, tell them, the MMD advocates got what they wanted. Tell them to “Save Vallejo” Tell them NOT to allow 11 MMDs in Vallejo.
(707) 648-4377 firstname.lastname@example.org
(707) 648-4130 email@example.com
(707) 648-4135 firstname.lastname@example.org
(707) 648-4133 email@example.com
Rozzana Verder Aliga
(707) 648-4134 firstname.lastname@example.org
(707) 648-4132 email@example.com
(707) 648-4131 firstname.lastname@example.org
Note: All opinions expressed in this column are those of the writer and not necessarily those of the Vallejo Independent Bulletin.