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Schneider, White Propose November Ballot Measures on Medical Marijuana

Plan calls for votes on council's dispensary ordinance and on ban of all dispensaries inside city limits

Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider and City Councilman Bendy White propose to place two measures before the voters on the November ballot: the medical marijuana dispensary ordinance approved by five council members on May 18 and an initiative to ban all medical marijuana dispensaries in the city of Santa Barbara.

Councilman Frank Hotchkiss’ reversal of his yes vote on the May 18 medical marijuana dispensary ordinance essentially throws the matter into gridlock. Mayor Schneider and Councilman White believe this issue will continue to fester unless either opponents of the ordinance on the council agree to a compromise or the matter is settled by voters.

After months of negotiations and hours of public testimony, Councilman Hotchkiss, as a member of the Ordinance Committee, voted to send a stronger medical marijuana dispensary ordinance to the full City Council for adoption. At the May 18 council hearing, Mr. Hotchkiss voted for yet additional restrictions to reach a compromise, thus creating one of the strictest ordinances in the state of California. Approval of the May 18 ordinance would have resulted in the quickest means to close unrestricted dispensaries. However, for the second time Hotchkiss changed his vote, resulting in gridlock.

“Like the state of California’s budget, this issue requires a super-majority for any action to take place. Frank’s decision to pull his support of this ordinance keeps city residents in limbo regarding how to address legal access to medical marijuana, as stipulated by the voter-approved Proposition 215 and the state attorney general’s guidelines,” commented Mayor Schneider. “For that reason, I think the only way forward at this point is to place both the revised ordinance and the question of a ban before the voters in November of this year.”

“We have both a long-term and short-term problem,” said Councilmember White. “I support putting a ban on the ballot, but the quickest path to closing unrestricted dispensaries is for the council to move forward on a tough ordinance. I still hold out hope that the council can reach a compromise on the issue. If not, we should place both a ban and the May 18 ordinance on the November ballot.”

— Helene Schneider is mayor of Santa Barbara.

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