News

Danville council endorses ban on marijuana cultivation, delivery

Final vote on new ordinance set for two weeks

The Danville Town Council gave initial support Tuesday to prohibiting the cultivation, processing and delivery of medical marijuana in a unanimous vote to help the town maintain regulatory control over the marijuana-related activities within the town limits.

The decision came in response to recent state legislation placing regulations on the growing and distribution of marijuana that would take effect locally unless the town adopts its own regulations by upcoming deadlines.

"I am absolutely adamant. We need to ban all of this," Councilman Newell Arnerich said at the Town Meeting Hall. "We need to get ahead of it. We can make changes later, if need be."

The proposed ban ordinance, which passed its first reading Tuesday night, is set to return for a second reading and final adoption at the next council meeting.

The nearly hour-long public discussion Tuesday featured comments from town officials and four local residents -- two on each side of the debate -- before the council weighed in on whether to establish a total ban or less-stringent regulations.

"The new (state) legislation will create a requirement for anyone cultivating to obtain a state license to do so," Danville city attorney Rob Ewing said during his opening remarks. "But the legislation also says that cities can ban all cultivation within their jurisdictional boundaries. In order to do so, that ban has to be not only be adopted, it has to go into effect by March 1."

Because the state would seize regulatory control where local rules aren't in place, Danville -- like many other California jurisdictions -- has been forced to fast-track its ordinance to avoid having all decisions on the growing and distributing of medical marijuana coming directly from the state, he said.

Ewing and council members indicated that the rules town officials create in the short-term might not necessarily be permanent for the long-term.

"If we ban (cultivation, processing and distribution) right now, we could later have a less-restrictive rule, should we desire to do so. But the reverse would not be possible, because of the March 1 (state deadline)," Mayor Karen Stepper said.

In support of the proposed ban, town staff cited concerns such as the chance for marijuana-induced fires at grow or processing sites and the public nuisance created by odor from marijuana plants. The conversation Tuesday night focused predominantly on issues associated with medical marijuana delivery.

Patty Hoyt, speaking on behalf of the San Ramon Valley Alcohol Policy Coalition, told the council she was worried that allowing marijuana cultivation and delivery would further the drug's use among Danville youth.

"Marijuana is, by far, the most common illegal drug used by teens," she said in support of the prohibition ordinance. "What contributes to marijuana use for teens (is) the availability of the drug, the social norms surrounding the drug's use and the perceived harmfulness of the drug."

But banning medical marijuana delivery would be unfair to some Danville residents qualified to receive marijuana as part of their treatment, according to Ryan Thornberry, who said he previously managed a marijuana delivery service along the Interstate 680 corridor.

"I personally can vouch that we delivered to many patients that are bed-ridden, going through severe chemotherapy, have back injuries and all sorts of different restrictions that do not allow them to get to the nearest dispensary, which is in Berkeley," Thornberry told council members.

He said his service utilized safeguards similar to pharmacies, such as using bills of sale, requiring verification of doctor's recommendations for patients and carrying only small portions of the drug in sealed containers. He also argued that many patients prefer types of marijuana with less of a high and little or no negative side effects, rather than psychoactive forms of the drug to which many stigmas are attached.

Another citizen speaker, Richard Gentry, said he supported the proposed ban because of the nuisance marijuana cultivation brought to the town because of odor from growhouses.

Resident Spencer Corbett told the council he questioned whether odor was reason enough to necessitate a total ban.

"Out of fear of odor and youth access, we're going to be taking away medicine from people who need it," Corbett said. "I know many other people in this town that rely on (marijuana to treat) depression, cancer, mental illness and other debilitating things."

When the discussion turned back to the council, Councilman Robert Storer expressed concern for town residents who rely on medical marijuana for their well-being but aren't able to go out and acquire it themselves.

Storer said he backed the Danville Planning Commission's proposal to ban marijuana cultivation and processing but allow limited delivery services for severely ill residents. But seeing he did not have the support on the dais to pass such a motion, Storer said he was happy to support his fellow council members in prohibiting delivery too.

The proposed ordinance is set to return for final approval Jan. 26. Violators would be deemed a public nuisance and could face civil penalties through the town's code enforcement rules, but the ordinance does not contemplate criminal charges.

Kalama Hines is a freelance writer for DanvilleSanRamon.com.

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Comments

14 people like this
Posted by Disappointed
a resident of Danville
on Jan 14, 2016 at 9:02 am

I would have hoped the Town Council would have more foresight and compassion. As Storer acknowledged, there are some bedridden patients who simply cannot obtain their medicine absent delivery. I can understand precluding growing and cultivation, but to altogether ban deliver seems heartless. The palliative properties of marijuana are indisputable, and anyone who has watched a friend or loved on battle the final stages of any painful disease knows the necessity of delivery.


13 people like this
Posted by Not Disappointed
a resident of Danville
on Jan 14, 2016 at 10:17 am

I am happy with Town Councils Decision.
Based on many of the arguments I have heard, it sounds like the use would be more recreational than for medical. I am all for medical uses of marijuana but do not think what was proposed was the best way to get us there.


16 people like this
Posted by JT
a resident of Danville
on Jan 14, 2016 at 11:17 am

Maybe we should also ban the dispensing of Ocycontin from all stores, as it is causing addiction and overdose deaths. Seems reasonable to me.

My friend, a life long doctor, who was adamant about opposing marijuana, suddenly developed a neurological disease with great pain. To relieve himself of the acute pain he was prescribed Oxycontin, but after a long time decided he could not function properly and his mood was negatively affected. So he reluctantly tried marijuana and guess what, he now has reduced his Ocycontin use significantly and is better able to cope with life. So the Danville Council hypocrites that support the big pharma produced rampage of Ocycontin overdose deaths, they are voting to snuff out a medicine that has been shown to be very effective and for the most part does NOT result in addiction or overdose deaths.

And while you worry about the odor being so bad, then why don't you ban cow grazing in the hills. That human consumption induced stench, from the cow dung along our back yard fence lines and clogging the trails, is far worse.

And just what is wrong with marijuana for recreational uses? Isn't it a personal choice? Isn't it a personal choice to use and abuse alcohol and tobacco? Isn't it a personal choice to buy alcohol or drinks at a bar and drive under the influence, perhaps killing self and/or others in the process? Well you might say driving drunk is illegal. Yes it is, but we haven't prohibited the purchase and consumption of the drug known as alcohol. Yet it is far more dangerous than marijuana. Good going Danville Town Council of hypocrites!!! What a victory, protecting a few people from odors while subjecting people who are in great pain and suffering from cancer to jump through hoops to get something that works.


6 people like this
Posted by American
a resident of Danville
on Jan 14, 2016 at 1:41 pm

Well done, town council, I and the vast majority of Danville residents totally agree with absolute ban.


4 people like this
Posted by hamilton
a resident of Danville
on Jan 14, 2016 at 1:51 pm

I am 65 years old and a 30 year resident of Danville. I am disabled and have been for about 20 years. I am in pain 24/7, which severely restricts my life and my sleep. I was given narcotic prescriptions for years, but did not like the side effects. They do not touch the kind of nerve pain I have. I saw a Doctor who explained all about MMJ to me. It has helped with my pain, and I now sleep through the night for the first time since I was disabled. I have a card endorsed by the State of California which allows me to use and cultivate MJ, for my own use. Is the Town Council saying their laws are above those of California? They are NOT! I cannot drive far, so are they suggesting that I find someone to drive me to the nearest dispensary?? I think NOT! I think that the Governor of this state and the group that is working with him to come up with a plan of proper dosage will be interested to hear of this plan!


5 people like this
Posted by Not Disappointed
a resident of Danville
on Jan 14, 2016 at 1:53 pm

The Original Question here is for MEDICAL Reasons.
As Far as Alcohol and Drug Dependency you are referring to a disease called, the disease of Addiction, recognized by the state of California.
Studies show what an impact it has on the brain, especially on reasoning.
Therefore I do not believe it to be a choice, at least when one suffers from this disease. I am not saying the current situation with Alcohol and or Drugs is right. Yes Alcohol and Prescription Dependency causes so many problems in not only our town, but in the world. We do not need to add to the problem. They are continuingly and currently working on tightening the restrictions of prescription medications. The Key here is educating the people (you and I) on how serious and damaging this disease is. We (society) need to be the teachers and set the example for our children and loved ones. If this was truly a case of MEDICAL use, I do not believe we would be having this discussion.
In either case, it is a drug and should be treated as such.


3 people like this
Posted by collins
a resident of Monte Vista High School
on Jan 14, 2016 at 1:54 pm

Interesting article. I wonder if our Town Council is aware that Medical Marijuana is legal in the state of California?


12 people like this
Posted by Reality
a resident of Danville
on Jan 14, 2016 at 2:20 pm

I am always amazed at how Danville residents try to put themselves and their children in the bubble known as San Ramon Valley. Within a max of five years marijuana will be legal in CA and the progressive Danville folks are now banning medical marijuana!
Robert Storer had a chance to finally be an individual and a leader but instead he caved to Newall...it's all embarassing


Like this comment
Posted by Andrew
a resident of Danville
on Jan 15, 2016 at 9:29 am

Just wait until Recreational Marijuana is legal across the state or even the nation. Then none of your opinions matter..


21 people like this
Posted by Mike Hersh
a resident of Danville
on Jan 15, 2016 at 12:36 pm

I don't even know where to begin. How about in the 1920s when a group of radical Christian activists decided to enter local establishments and proceed to maliciously smash their alcohool products claiming they were improving society. Have we learned nothing from history? When you deem a substance illegal you give gangs and drug dealers another product to make money off of. Banning something so easily obtainable is simply foolish. As we have seen from the last prohibition, the people will find ways to get what they want even if that means going outside the law. By banning medical cannabis Danville residents will now be forced to break the law in order to obtain something that they are entitled to: an organic medicine alternative that has never killed a single person EVER. Instead we encourage everyone to seek out pharmaceutical drugs that kill many people every year. Sadly no efforts on your part will stop the youth from obtaining cannabis no matter how many babs and regultions you put into place. Your only option is to educate the youth and teach them the truth about the nature of cannabis. Any substance can be abused, but some substances are far more harmful than cannabis and there is simply no arguing. The facts are in: alchohol kills around 88,000 people each year and pharmaceuticals kill well over 100,000 a year whereas cannabis has never killed anyone and the amount you would have to take in order to overdose is almost unobtainable by the average person. It is truly sad to see a town of educated and intelligent people make such an absurd and counterintuitive ban on something that is so harmless and medically beneficial. What we are seeing are the effects of the anti-marijuana propaganda campaigns that were launched by the pharmaceutical industry through the 20th century to try and demonize a plant so that their profits would not be dampened. Danville city council members, I urge you to do research and find the truth about the cannabis plant so that you can understand how medically benefical it really is and stop using fear and tradition as excuses for prohibiting a natural remedy. Fear born from ignorance breeds unnecessary mistrust and hate. Don't be the cause of suffering because you refuse progress.


3 people like this
Posted by collins
a resident of Danville
on Jan 15, 2016 at 12:46 pm

Mike Hersh has made a comment which makes more sense than other opinions posted. My question is, since MMJ is legal in the state of California, how can a Town make a decision that contradicts this law?? Perhaps we should find out what the law has to say.


3 people like this
Posted by you are right
a resident of Diablo
on Jan 15, 2016 at 1:48 pm

All of you are absolutely correct!!!

Let's make all drugs legal!!!

After all history has shown.


3 people like this
Posted by JT
a resident of Danville
on Jan 15, 2016 at 2:41 pm

actually making all drugs legal is a compelling idea after all that the recent history of the ongoing national and international drug wars have shown us. People are totally worried that legal availability of drugs will cause a societal scourge of widespread abuse. As a result of the US funding both the war on drugs and the incentive to make them (user demand), entire countries have been ripped apart, as a clear example, Colombia. The US Govt is funding their govt to fight the drug manufacturing business, and at the same time, US citizens who are buying the drugs are funding the growers and processors. Their citizens blame their internal strife on the United States. It is not as if legal availability will eliminate the consequences for people. Certain jobs will still require people to be drug free on the job. Being a user/buyer can/will have its non-jail consequences, and can/will be accompanied by better education. I am a total believer in society stepping up to the challenges of legality.


2 people like this
Posted by American
a resident of Danville
on Jan 15, 2016 at 5:14 pm

It is still an illegal drug under federal Law. Our town council is following the law of the land. Moreover, a small town like Danville does not have the capacity to regulate and oversee MMJ. It is a joke how many "doctors" prescribe it for invalid reasons, ranging from head aches, to alcoholism. For the 1% of people who actually need it for a real medical reason, it is still available in many close large cities. Take a 20 minute drive to Oakland and get your pot. We do not need all the problems it would cause for our small town.


1 person likes this
Posted by JT
a resident of Danville
on Jan 15, 2016 at 5:58 pm

Oh sure American, legal distribution would cause so many problems. The real issue are perverse attitudes that create fantasy problems in ones mind. Maybe we should ban cell phones because of all the problems they create on the road, and they are real ones. I can see not wanting a dispensary, but banning a delivery service? Please start showing up at Town Council meetings and start advocating for banning alcohol sales, far, far far more of a problem. Don't believe me... start going back through the record and find out how many teenagers died due to drunk driving in the San Ramon Valley in the past 10 years. Maybe you can start the Prohibition-II Constitutional Amendment platform.


2 people like this
Posted by DiabloDank
a resident of Danville
on Jan 21, 2016 at 5:46 pm

Please attend the next Town of Danville city council meeting Jan 26th at 9:00am at the Town Government office. We still have time to Stop this BAN on safe access for our PATIENTS. "The proposed ban ordinance, which passed its first reading Tuesday night, is set to return for a second reading and final adoption at the next council meeting." town of Danville


Like this comment
Posted by Johnny
a resident of Danville
on Nov 22, 2016 at 8:10 am

I must protest JT's characterization of the Town Council as "hypocrites." JT is being MUCH too kind.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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