A parade of Fillmore residents told the City Council Monday night that easing a local medical marijuana ban would either help patients suffering from painful illnesses or would lead to more crime and promote addiction among children and teens.
Council members listened to testimony from medical and recreational marijuana advocates, law enforcement representatives and regular citizens during a 3½-hour public hearing on whether they should allow cultivation, sale and delivery of medical marijuana.
The council is reconsidering a ban it approved earlier this year on such activities. State law gave cities a March 1 deadline to impose their own rules, after which the state could start licensing growers and sellers in communities where there were no local regulations. But the state lifted that deadline before it took effect.
The possession and use of marijuana with a doctor’s recommendation is protected under state law and cannot be banned by local authorities.
But cities and counties have the power to bar — or allow and regulate — cultivation of both personal and commercial sales, the sale of marijuana at storefront dispensaries and the delivery of legally grown and sold marijuana.
The council will reconsider its ban at its Aug. 9 meeting.
Separately, the council voted unanimously last month to place a measure on the November ballot that would allow it to tax marijuana sales at a rate of up to 15 percent. Fillmore is the first city in Ventura County to seek voter approval for marijuana taxes. Several other cities in California also have done so.
Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean told the council Monday night that from his research, the legalization of marijuana in Colorado has led to growing crime rates and drug addiction among youth there and that Fillmore should not open the door to such activity.
“I’m not sure if the family values that Fillmore is built on that that’s what you really want to do here,” he said.
Fillmore Police Chief Dave Wareham said he traveled to Colorado and Washington state to see the impact of legal marijuana.
“If everybody follows the rules, the system works. If everybody was to follow all the regulations, we wouldn’t have problem, but the reality is there is a whole industry out there that is not going to follow those rules,” Wareham told the council. “The lesson I learned is we’re not ready.”
Fillmore resident Toni Galvez, who works as an assistant in a real estate office, told the council she does not like the idea of out-of-towners coming in to sell or deliver marijuana to locals, a sentiment expressed by other speakers.
“Those of you who are coming here from out outside of Fillmore to do this business, you don’t belong here,” she said.
But resident Tiffany Grande was one of several speakers who shared stories of loved ones suffering from painful illnesses that experienced some relief through the use of medical marijuana. She urged the council to consider at least allowing deliveries.
“I would hope you would consider looking at it piece by piece,” she said. “Maybe with deliveries, people wouldn’t have to drive to Santa Barbara or the San Fernando Valley to get medical marijuana.
“I know the negative effects it (marijuana) can have on a youth’s developing brain. But I think you also need to make sure that some of your most vulnerable citizens have the access they need to medication.”