Monday, October 15 , 2018, 7:58 pm | Fair 65º


Santa Maria Council OKs Medical Marijuana Deliveries, Bans Cultivation

A ban on growing medical marijuana received Santa Maria City Council approval, but the question of whether to allow deliveries drew more debate before getting adopted Tuesday night.

Since the council considered the item two weeks ago, they were expected to finalize the matter without discussion at this week’s meeting.

But Mayor Alice Patino said she had concerns about allowing deliveries of medical marijuana in the city.

“I feel at this point we just really lack a lot of information,” Patino said.

Patino asked the council to wait on taking action on the delivery policy until the city obtains more information, but city staff noted a looming March 1 deadline facing Santa Maria and other jurisdictions in California.

“You do have some time, but it is a very small and narrow window to consider and deliberate on these issues if you wish to preserve local control on the issues of medical marijuana dispensaries, deliveries and cultivation,” Assistant City Attorney Kristine Mollenkopf said. 

Councilwoman Terri Zuniga said her opinion had not changed, noting a speaker at the previous meeting told about his mom, a medical marijuana patient with cancer, in need of the delivery service due to the difficulty in traveling out of town.

“I think it would be the least compassionate thing for us to do to move from what we talked about at our last meeting,” Zuniga said.

“I really think we’re doing the compassionate thing by allowing the deliveries,” Councilman Jack Boysen said. “I fully agree cultivation should not be allowed within the city.”

Police Chief Ralph Martin said firms such as Federal Express and United Parcel Service have policies banning deliveries of medical marijuana.

“The fact is that they do and they don’t know it most of the time because they do not have the dogs in place all the time,” Martin said.

New regulations on delivery services will be highly regulated but likely won’t go into effect until 2018, the assistant city attorney said.

Delivery services that have operated locally will continue for at two more years until new licensing requirements are spelled out, the assistant city attorney added.

It’s not yet known if delivery services based elsewhere but operating in the city can be required to get a business license, Mollenkopf added.

“When it comes to regulating deliveries in the city of Santa Maria there are a lot of questions,” she added.

The ban on cultivation, while allowing deliveries, passed on a 4-1 vote with Patino opposed.

In other items, the council:

» Unanimously voted to appoint Councilwoman Etta Waterfield as mayor pro-tem to fill in when the mayor isn’t available. Zuniga wrapped up her year-long term as mayor pro-tem.

» Approved improvements to the intersection of California Boulevard and Union Valley Parkway. The proposal calls for moving the crosswalk and stop line closer to the intersection to improve sight distance. An earlier effort involved trimming landscaping in the area. Crews are expected to start the work in early January. 

» Approved a pay hike for police officers. The three-year extension of the current memorandum of understanding with the Santa Maria Police Officers Association calls for cost-of-living adjustments of 3 percent annually the first two years and 2 percent the final year. The pact also includes a modest increase in the stipend for employees who speak Spanish at an advanced level.

» Agreed to a 2 percent cost-of-living increase for City Attorney Gil Trujillo and City Manager Rick Haydon. The council also agreed to give the manager a 2 percent performance-based pay raise, noting he had previously declined a 2 percent increase as well as a 2.5 percent performance-based hike in past years.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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