Bishop City Council: Marijuana, Kingston

By Deb Murphy

Bishop city staff was looking for a consensus, some direction for the Planning Commission as it wrestles with the sticky issue of cultivation of medicinal marijuana. City Council Mayor Pat Gardner came close to a recap of Monday’s lengthy discussion. “We may be in favor of a ban, or at least where growing happens it’s limited.”

pot_farm

The Council began a process that spans a December meeting of the Commission (cultivation is a land use issue) and two more readings of an ordinance, if there is one, to meet the March 1, 2016 deadline to exert some level of local control over cultivation.

(Mammoth’s Town Council dealt with mobile dispensaries at last week’s meeting, compelled by an even earlier deadline before state laws move the issue to Sacramento.)

City Attorney Ryan Jones started the discussion with some background. The City has an ordinance that bans dispensaries and mobile sales, but not cultivation. Sacramento has three bills designed to rein in what Jones called the Wild West that followed passage of the Compassionate Care Act 10 years ago. The new laws will put the regulation of pot groves in state hands, unless cities get their own laws on the books by March. “The state will provide the framework,” Jones said. “But cities can use that or do their own.”

The state Ag Department will regulate pot farms much the same way other agricultural operations are regulated under the new laws.

The consensus is that the state is not just setting the framework for medicinal marijuana sales and cultivation, but getting a head start on the strong possibility that marijuana for recreational use will be legalized by initiative on the November 2016 ballot.

The whole issue is somewhat clouded by elements that can only be described as weird. First: right now, cultivation is illegal, raising the thorny question: where are the medicinal dispensaries getting their stash? Collectives can grow for its members as non-profits; individuals can grow for their own use, at least that’s what the 10-year old laws indicate.

Then there’s the question raised by Councilmember Joe Pecsi: Pot is still considered a dangerous, highly addictive drug, and, hence, illegal, by the federal government. But, Jones said, the Feds won’t send its Drug Enforcement Administration agents to break-up California’s dispensaries. Pecsi read from the city charter: Bishop can pass any law that doesn’t conflict with state or federal laws. Pecsi’s direction to the Planning Commission would be to ban all forms of marijuana use. He gained little support.

While the public will get plenty of opportunity to jump into this fray, only a few provided comments at Monday’s meeting, ranging from “we should take a moral stand,” to “the writing’s on the wall.” James Freeman supported a more liberal attitude, saying that pot was preferable to pharmaceuticals in a lot of situations. “If we ban dispensaries, people will just go to the black market,” he said.

“The League of California Cities has been talking about this for a long time,” said Gardner. “Many cities already have controls in place. Giving up our control to the state is scary. We have the opportunity, we should take it.”

Councilmember Karen Schwartz came out on the side of no-ban. “I don’t see the harm of medicinal marijuana. Who are we to say you can’t if the states says you can. What’s the harm?”

Other than Schwartz, the Council danced around the topic of a cultivation ban, what City Administrator Jim Tatum described as “the 800-pound elephant.” Tatum wanted to see more direction to staff and the Planning Commission if there was a consensus from the Council. There didn’t seem to be one.

Councilmember Laura Smith focused on the fact that any ordinance could be amended in the future. Jones agreed, as long as there was an ordinance in place by the deadline.

By the end of the discussion, Jones said he would provide samples of other city ordinances, “from A to Z and everything in between,” to give the Commission an idea of alternatives.

The Commission will hold a well-notified special meeting in early December with the first and second readings of a proposed ordinance at City Council meetings in January.

After next November, this 800-pound elephant may simply vanish.

The Planning Commission also gets to deal with a vaping ordinance. Controlling vaping in public, that was relatively easy, according to Jones — just expand existing regulations on tobacco smoke to include vaping. On restrictions for vaping shops or lounges, Schwartz’ suggestion was to, first get more community input, and then perhaps apply the same business permit restrictions now used for other adult activities, like bars.

 

Kingston Subdivision

The Kingston Subdivision will return to the Bishop City Council agenda tentatively set for Jan. 11.

Bishop-Nursery

The revised documents states “the proposed project could not have a significant effect on the environment with adherence to the mitigation measures listed in the Initial Study. A Mitigated Negative Declaration will be prepared.”

The Revised Draft Environmental Initial Study Mitigated Negative Declaration was sent off to the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research and posted to the City’s website (under Public Works, Environmental Documents) Tuesday. Copies of the document will be available at City Hall. Public comments will be taken through December 14.

According to Planning Director Gary Schley, the Planning Commission will hold a special meeting in early December followed by City Council’s consideration of the subdivision, tentatively set for its January 11 meeting. Public comments can be submitted in writing to City of Bishop, P.O. Box 1236, Bishop, CA 93515 or to [email protected].

The initial study was discussed at Council in mid-July with objections raised by potential neighbors to the 15-home subdivision on a 2.75-acre parcel currently occupied by Bishop Nursery on Home Street. Those opposed called the study inadequate, raising issues of impacts to habitat, noise and traffic. In August, the City hired Bill Taylor to work with the department on the study revision.

More to come.

 

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Humanrights
Humanrights
6 years ago

As a patient, I can tell you firsthand that city laws will eventually have to adhere to a state minimum guideline regardless. Lawsuits will pave the way. Blocking access is discrimination on multiple levels. Explain that to the 75 year old with shot nerves and a sick belly that they… Read more »

Humanrights
Humanrights
6 years ago

So sad to even see this wasting tax dollars. It’s already been legalized statewide medicinally. You cannot block access without just cause. Sick people shouldn’t have to travel in the winter for their med anymore than a non user does for their pharmaceuticals. Tell ya what , to make it… Read more »

Zena Bradley
Zena Bradley
7 years ago

The state said it was ok, the feds will no doubt change the law, why are we even talking about this? The City Council in Bishop (Joe) needs to get with the program. Medicinal MJ has a place in healthcare. People with cancer, chronic pain etc. that do not want… Read more »

Corruption in bishop
Corruption in bishop
7 years ago

I think you forgot to get… because you got “high” Difference here low inyo.. both of my eyes are open and watching everything, I have never seen such injustice thru the inyo county court system, yet for those fortunate not to have that issue knows how flawed it truly is.… Read more »

Corruption in bishop
Corruption in bishop
7 years ago

Do you know him..? I do. And that shady guy… is 1 he’ll of a good friend to my family. He also had the backing of a lot of good people thru the community, from the volunteer firefighters, to police officers, why…because we the people are tired of wasting Leo… Read more »

Low-Inyo
Low-Inyo
7 years ago

….always reassuring to hear someone working in the court-system admitting to smoking weed BEFORE he goes into work….our tax dollars at work….probably means you purchase some lousy weed….last time I smoked (REALLY good stuff) it was AFTER work and after a shower,and about 20 minutes later,if my house caught fire,I’d… Read more »

badfinger29
badfinger29
7 years ago

Low Inyo Hillbilly Hicks Can’t stop progress, they just get steam rolled… don’t mess with people’s medicine and impose outdated personal beliefs on free american people, God Bless America

Low-Inyo
Low-Inyo
7 years ago

Corruption in Bishop…..If your refering to that “pot store” in Big Pine,that was a shady kinda guy….and from what I heard from more than one, (allegedly) selling much more than just weed and DVD’s….

unbearable
unbearable
7 years ago

This could just about cripple me. Being 21 years old with a eating disorder, high stress life and bad back. I NEED MY MEDICINE!!!!!

Low-Inyo
Low-Inyo
7 years ago
Reply to  unbearable

unbearable…..That’s a lot of problems for a 21 year old….think it’s bad now,wait till you get into your 60’s and your outside working in these 40 MPH + winds and cold….toothache in my few remaining few teeth….headache….lifting a washing machine into the back of a truck…got home,popped a couple aspirin,took… Read more »

Corruption in bishop
Corruption in bishop
7 years ago

The county officials are BLIND to progress, , oh… let’s keep it a quiet country town, didn’t some do it a while ago. And the county should of let him do it… I know he had a business license issued from California. . And here comes big ol tough inet…… Read more »

sugarmagnolia
sugarmagnolia
7 years ago

leave it to an ex LEO to try and create an environment that requires more LEO (and more to the point, money for law enforcement). I’m sure he supports the confiscate and keep laws that LEO love too. Quite simply, pot can ruin your life…same as alcohol and prescription drugs…actually… Read more »

Low-Inyo
Low-Inyo
7 years ago

Steve…..EVERYTHING isn’t a lawsuit….even for those that can’t or won’t take a short drive and expect deliveries of their “medicine” to their front door….The majority of Inyo County(especially lower-Inyo County) doesn’t want the element that goes along with these pot-shops…

Steve
Steve
7 years ago

The “Compassionate use Act” requires reasonable access for MJ patients. Bishop and Inyo county are creating an opening to be sued for not making reasonable access. The rush to get something done before March 2016 is a rush to keep the discrimination in place. Again an opening to be sued.… Read more »

James
James
7 years ago

The city council is treating this like a necessity rather than medical reasons. If they put their new Ban in effect by March 1st. It will include, That anyone who has been prescribed a medical marijuana card won’t be able to cultivate their own medical marijuana, as well as a… Read more »

John
John
7 years ago

sticky issues and thorny questions.

We’ll see what happens when the smoke clears