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City Council Supports Revised Marijuana Ordinance, Putting Dispensary Ban on Ballot

Once language for both has been drafted, in a week or two, they'll go back to the council for a vote

Though nothing’s final, the Santa Barbara City Council on Tuesday supported approving the proposed medical marijuana storefront collective ordinance — with a few new amendments — and putting an outright ban on the ballot in November.

City Attorney Steve Wiley will draft the language for each and come back to the council for a vote in a week or two.

All but Councilman Grant House voted for the motion, following fellow Councilman Dale Francisco’s logic of tightening restrictions through adoption of the proposed ordinance and then putting the ban — which he said he fully supports on a philosophical issue — in the hands of city voters in a special election.

City Administrator Jim Armstrong said it costs about $40,000 to put an item on the ballot, since it goes through the county.

A 5-2 vote on May 18 in favor of the proposed ordinance became moot when Councilman Frank Hotchkiss withdrew his support, seemingly throwing the issue into a stalemate. Francisco’s compromise of changing the citywide cap from five to three and limiting the amount of time dispensaries have to conform brought Hotchkiss in, along with fellow naysayer Councilwoman Michael Self, to get enough votes for action.

Council members questioned one another’s convictions and motives as they negotiated and renegotiated toward any kind of consensus.

“I applaud Mr. Francisco entering into the dialogue,” Councilman Das Williams said.

“I’ve been here all along,” Francisco said to laughter from members of the public.

The tone of public comment has become more accusatory as well, as frustration mounts the longer the revision process takes.

Mayor Helene Schneider moved to put both the ordinance and a ban on the ballot, but was overwhelmed by Francisco’s motion before it came to a vote.

As of now, the 2008 ordinance — which has no citywide cap and all council members agree is inadequate — is suspended, so no more storefronts can be approved.

When the revised draft and initiative language come back to the City Council, five votes will be needed to adopt the ordinance and four votes to put a measure on the ballot.

If voters pass the statewide November ballot measure to legalize marijuana — allowing personal possession and cultivation for recreational use, not just medical — the city’s ordinance and ban initiative would be insignificant, Wiley said.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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