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Atascadero supports cannabis but closes club

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    Following an eleventh-hour decision by the city council Tuesday night, Atascadero has resolved to draft an ordinance regulating medical marijuana distribution. It’s the first city in the county to do so, a full decade after the passage of Proposition 215.
    Charles Lynch forced the issue when he opened Central Coast Compassionate Caregivers (CCCC) at 7425 El Camino Real in Atascadero on January 12. In an effort to comply with zoning laws, Lynch went to the city and obtained a permit for a private medical service, when in fact he would be selling medical marijuana. The city council is ordering Lynch to shut down his current business and then go through the proper application process, which should be established within the next few months.
    In response to such operations cropping up throughout the state, Atascadero enacted a moratorium against marijuana dispensaries last March; that ban expired on July 11. Most cities in SLO County still have temporary or permanent bans against medicinal cannabis distribution. Thousands of seriously-ill Californians continue to obtain medical marijuana from dozens of other dispensaries around the state for relief from chronic pain and illnesses such as multiple sclerosis, cancer, AIDS, and epilepsy.
A GROWING TREND :  Atascadero will become the first city in SLO County to draft an ordinance regulating safe and legal distribution of medical marijuana to seriously ill patients, pursuant to the California Compassionate Use Act of 1996. - FILE PHOTO
  • File Photo
  • A GROWING TREND : Atascadero will become the first city in SLO County to draft an ordinance regulating safe and legal distribution of medical marijuana to seriously ill patients, pursuant to the California Compassionate Use Act of 1996.
#     Mayor Tom O’Malley opened the dispensary discussion, the last item on the council agenda, stating rather bluntly, “ I find it difficult to respect a government that would put its own demagoguery before the needs of the sick and disabled.� This statement drew a warm round of applause from the sizable crowd that spoke in unanimous support of Lynch and the CCCC.
    Around 20 citizens — including patients, caregivers, car accident victims, libertarians, and elderly — came to the podium for a solid hour of public comment, speaking sincerely about the need for safe access to the herbal remedy. Their speeches were rife with references to the harmful side effects of prescription drugs, and to the hypocrisy of permitting the sale of guns, alcohol, and pornography while banning the sale of marijuana.
    Those audience members who stayed until 11 p.m. saw the 4-1 vote as a victory, but Lynch’s attorney, Lou Koory, is far less optimistic and insists that the city has no right to close his client’s business even temporarily. “A temporary ban followed by a prohibitive ordinance is a ban,� argues Koory, who is already filing a lawsuit against the city. “There is no basis to order [CCCC] to shut down while they draft an ordinance.�
—Jeff Hornaday

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