Lathrop says no to selling le­gal pot within city

Ripon Bulletin - - Front Page - By JA­SON CAMP­BELL

It’ll take an­other six weeks be­fore it’s fi­nal­ized, but the word is of­fi­cial – the busi­ness era of cannabis sales in Lathrop is over be­fore it be­gan.

The Lathrop City Coun­cil voted 4-0 Mon­day night – with coun­cil­woman Martha Sal­cedo ab­sent – to

im­pose a ban on all com­mer­cial cannabis ac­tiv­i­ties within the city lim­its in the wake of Cal­i­for­nia’s re­cent recre­ational mar­i­juana law that al­lows for the cul­ti­va­tion, pos­ses­sion and sale of cannabis by res­i­dents 21 years of age or older.

While it’ll take more than a month for the read­ings and adop­tions of the or­di­nance that was ap­proved Mon­day night, the coun­cil took the un­usual step of ex­tend­ing an ur­gency or­di­nance for the re­main­der of the twoyears it can legally be used – they passed a 45-day ur­gency ban on all com­mer­cial cannabis ac­tiv­ity back in De­cem­ber – to cover any over­lap be­tween when the coun­cil for­mally voted on the per­ma­nent ban and when it would go into ef­fect.

If there are any le­gal chal­lenges to the per­ma­nent ban mov­ing for­ward, the ur­gency or­di­nance will legally al­low Lathrop to pro­hibit the op­er­a­tion of any sort of com­mer­cial cannabis en­ter­prise – in­clud­ing re­tail sales, pro­fes­sional cul­ti­va­tion, stor­age, treat­ment or test­ing of cannabis – for an ad­di­tional 22 months.

Justin Dan­ner, who rep­re­sented a Stanis­laus County based en­tity that op­er­ates a dis­pen­sary in Modesto and re­cently won ap­proval in Pat­ter­son, asked the coun­cil to re­con­sider their po­si­tion and made him­self avail­able to an­swer any ques­tions about the busi­ness or the in­dus­try that they were reg­u­lat­ing. Ul­ti­mately all four mem­bers voted in fa­vor of the full ban.

Dan­ner had pre­vi­ously ex­plained that mis­con­cep­tions about com­mer­cial cannabis were plen­ti­ful in the wake of the state’s adop­tion of a bal­lot ini­tia­tive that was ap­proved in 2016, start­ing with the fact that most dis­pen­sary op­er­a­tions and cannabis busi­nesses op­er­ate on a cash-only model – point­ing out that his af­fil­i­ated net­work has been able to iden­tify fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions that are will­ing to process pay­ments and ex­tend busi­ness bank­ing ser­vices that ma­jor banks steer clear from be­cause of the fed­eral im­pli­ca­tions.

And the un­cer­tainty over what the Trump Ad­min­is­tra­tion’s re­sponse to state’s de­fy­ing the Fed­eral Con­trolled Sub­stances Act – which still lists mar­i­juana as a Sched­ule 1 nar­cotic along­side co­caine, heroin, PCP and LSD – also played a fac­tor in the de­ci­sion by the coun­cil to avoid any fu­ture con­tro­versy or un­wanted at­ten­tion. Coun­cil­man Steve Dresser pointed out that U.S. At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions has said that his office would go af­ter not just the busi­nesses, but also the mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties and gov­ern­ments that prof­ited off of them by im­pos­ing sweep­ing taxes on re­tail sales – us­ing the same laws that have al­lowed law en­force­ment to con­fis­cate any­thing pur­chased through “ill got­ten” means for decades.

Lathrop City At­tor­ney Sal­vador Navar­rete con­firmed that while the rhetoric from Wash­ing­ton has been short on specifics, the pos­si­bil­ity ex­ists that sweep­ing re­form could be pos­si­ble and it would be within the le­gal pa­ram­e­ters of the Fed­eral govern­ment to en­force its own laws.

The rec­om­men­da­tion or a per­ma­nent ban on com­mer­cial cannabis was nar­rowly ap­proved by the Lathrop Plan­ning Com­mis­sion with a 3-2 vote late last year and for­warded on for coun­cil’s con­sid­er­a­tion. Be­cause of the le­gal na­ture of the ur­gency or­di­nance, the pro­posal had to receive the sup­port of all of the coun­cil mem­bers present to be­come law.

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