Bishop City Council stingy on pot

By Deb Murphy

Voters within Bishop City limits approved Inyo County’s advisory measures on marijuana operations, both recreational and medical. However, those voters apparently don’t talk to the majority of the councilmembers.

The Council started the conversation on what, beyond the legality of personal use and cultivation defined by the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, the City would allow. The consensus was “very little.”

The purpose of the exercise was to come to a consensus and provide direction to City Counsel Ryan Jones. The next step will be the Planning Commission, then back to City Council.

Karen Schwartz led the charge to allow a broad range of activities, from commercial grow operations to testing and laboratories. “Let them (potential business owners) make the decision,” she said. “Things have changed. We’re not in a position to turn our backs on any business.”

The arguments were fairly consistent through the available options of what can be regulated by local entities: cultivation, processing and manufacturing, sales and distribution, delivery and transportation, testing labs, indoor greenhouse cultivation and outdoor cultivation.

Schwartz got agreement from a majority of the councilmembers on delivery/transportation—okay, as long as no money changes hands and the delivery services get a Bishop City business license; the only caveat on indoor or greenhouse cultivation was building codes had to be adhered to and outdoor cultivation for personal use was also okay as long as the plants were not visible from a public right-of-way.

The arguments from Councilmembers Laura Smith, Joe Pecsi and Pat Gardner seemed to hinge on constituent input. Councilmember Jim Ellis had input from both sides of the issue from voters.

First, commercial cultivation: Schwartz pointed out the size of those operations almost ruled out opportunities within the city limits so why bother regulating it. Smith wanted a ban in writing; Gardner assumed marijuana businesses wouldn’t be profitable in Bishop.

On processing and manufacturing: Schwartz saw a potential marketing potential, similar to craft breweries. “I lean toward Karen,” Ellis said, “but I don’t support retail operations. “I don’t see these businesses making soap,” said Smith. “It’s another substance that can be abused and create problems. I don’t want it.” Gardner said such businesses wouldn’t be profitable.

Sales and distribution fell flat. “There’s no reason to say no except for old stereotypes,” said Schwartz. But the rest of the members said “no.”

In terms of testing and laboratories, the Council seemed confused as to what that entailed. Pecsi had visions of meth labs and explosions. Ellis joined Schwartz in the minority on approving those activities.

The only public comment came from Chris Taylor, owner of McMurry’s Sports Bar. His slant was the potential for tax revenues. Plus, “You don’t have the right to say people can’t open certain kinds of businesses,” he said.

The County Board of Supervisors were scheduled to hear an update from staff on similar issues today.



16 Responses to Bishop City Council stingy on pot

  1. Indygal February 18, 2017 at 8:01 pm #

    Medical marijuana is very beneficial to many people, CBD in particular. CBD is non psychotropic, and is very good for anxiety, vertigo, restless leg and partial onset seizures. It is nice to have access to this non-habit forming alternative to big pharma.

  2. Low Inyo February 16, 2017 at 9:03 am #

    wilderbeast….Last time I smoked pot,ran out of cigarettes,got into my truck to drive two blocks to the Mobil…..and after starting the truck and backing out of my driveway,decided to go back forward into my parking spot and make the two block walk to the store….hoping no one I knew would see me stumbling around getting there and back….honestly,if you say you drive better stoned more so than sober and not under the influence at 70 MPH on the highway with traffic around,only one thing to say….come on,man !!

  3. wilderbeast February 16, 2017 at 6:35 am #

    I know that when I smoke a blunt or two….My reactions when driving at 70mph are much better then when not loaded.

    • Pedro February 17, 2017 at 9:44 am #

      wilderbeast in wonderland,

      I’d bet the cost of a test course or simulator comparison you are wrong.

      Seriously, if you ever have a chance to be in a before and after smoking pot driving test, try it. You’d be more rare than a Wildebeest in Owens Valley if your driving improves.

  4. Low Inyo February 15, 2017 at 2:38 pm #

    Thing about this is,when the Proposition was passed,people thought this was going to be a California marijuana “free for all” going on in every town,every street,every neighborhood in California…..not so….there’s still got to be some laws and regulations regarding growing,selling,and use,including the DUI aspect of things to come….people,there’s still a life to live out there….not all based on marijuana,buying selling,profiting, and getting high,and for some,an easy way to profit and take advantage of those that don’t know how to or can’t grow….take a look at some of the drug-riddled cities and towns in this State,with lots of legal and illegal “pot shops”…..Oakland,Lancaster,Palmdale,some(many) of the areas in Los Angeles… you REALLY want these little towns in the Owens Valley facing the same kinda problems and crime those bigger cities are doing that aren’t really that far away from us ?….

    • Trouble February 15, 2017 at 7:07 pm #

      Lower sometimes you sound like my mother in law.

  5. Sandy Justice February 15, 2017 at 1:24 pm #

    “However, those voters apparently don’t talk to the majority of the council members.”

    The voters already spoke, by voting. The last time voters were told they do not know what is good for them and people on councils said they were not going to support what the voters said.

    The voters voted them all out of office. Looks like that needs to happen again.

  6. Paco February 15, 2017 at 9:56 am #

    Sad that the city council is stuck in the old, outdated, reactionary conservative, anti-progressive ways of thinking. They’re OK with supermarkets selling alcohol, bars serving alcohol, and thereby producing all of the societal ills caused by alcohol: drunk drivers, domestic violence, and all the rest.

    But pot? Oh my!!! A real danger to the community!!!

    Perhaps the city council is holding back everyone else until they figure out a way to profit from the inevitable themselves.

  7. Earl Duran February 15, 2017 at 9:04 am #

    Users can pick it up on the street, and avoid all the price increase, it all over i hear.

  8. p ite February 15, 2017 at 7:35 am #

    i guess when the people speak with thier vote, and win ,if it does not fit with some of the councils beliefs or morels, well these comfortable well off caucasion are our leaders and we should just get in line and quit voting, recall recall recall

  9. Curious February 15, 2017 at 7:25 am #

    I’m curious to know what people think about this. As the article mentions, people living in the City voted in favor of allowing recreational marijuana businesses to open in Inyo County.

    Also, for the Councilmembers’ information, marijuana is not nearly as harmful as meth in any way, nor other legal substances like alcohol and prescription drugs.

    • Curious February 15, 2017 at 7:30 am #

      I don’t partake in drugs in any form, but I voted in favor of allowing marijuana in Inyo County, in part because I don’t feel the the compulsion to regulate other people’s behavior based on my personal beliefs. That’s the hypochloritesy of conservatives – they’re all about small government and personal liberty, right?

      • Sarfred February 16, 2017 at 7:08 am #

        Is hypochloritesy a word? Hypocrisy is.

  10. AK February 15, 2017 at 6:24 am #

    I am very disappointed in our local law makers. With the exception of Karen Schwartz, they are very much out of touch with this issue. When it comes to labs and testing, Pecsi has visions of meth labs and explosions. Pat Gardner assumes marijuana businesses will not be profitable in Bishop. They want to OK delivery/transportation with no money being exchanged, but require a business license. How is it a profitable business if no money is exchanged? What about Pal’s collective that has been delivering locally for over a year now. Come on council members. Do your homework, get on the internet machine and do research, talk to other towns and city’s. No one has ever died from over dose of THC. No one wants to go out and commit crimes after smoking, they just want to relax, get something to eat, then take a nap. For many people, this is the only relief they can get for chronic pain, and side effects from radiation and chemo therapy. I know many seniors, business men and women, professionals, and neighbors that use marijuana regularly. We voted for this on the ballot, now the city council is not listening. Too bad.

  11. Trouble February 15, 2017 at 3:41 am #

    Does our City Council realize a declared war on drugs , is a war declared on our own people? Hell, half of our local leaders probally just voted to legalize it. I did. And I choose not to smoke .

    Don’t be a hypochlorite . This new personal freedom effects people we all know and love. Don’t be a part of this continued war on our own people. It’s not right.

    • erik simpson February 15, 2017 at 7:48 am #

      DOn’t be a hypochlorite? Are you sure you chose not to smoke?


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.