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Placentia council changes mind, won’t allow medical marijuana businesses

PLACENTIA – Following a huge public turnout Tuesday night, the City Council reversed course and dropped plans to allow medical marijuana businesses in the city.

Placentia would have been the first Orange County community to allow the cultivation of medical marijuana.

Two weeks ago, the council had approved 3-2 giving permits for one dispensary, one cultivation site, one manufacturing site, one testing lab, one service for transportation and one delivery service, with further development possible after 18 months.

New laws require two separate votes, and Tuesday night all five council members opposed permitting medical marijuana businesses.

Community members packed the Council Chambers, to the point that an overflow room had to be opened.

Before public comments began, Mayor Jeremy Yamaguchi expressed interest in tabling the matter, effectively killing it while leaving the door open to a public forum and further research.

“The review and approval process may have moved too quickly,” he said. “A lot of residents expressed that they feel they didn’t have adequate time to study the ordinance and the issue.”

In the hours of public comment that followed, the vast majority spoke strongly against bringing medical marijuana to Placentia. A near constant theme was thinking of the city’s children – an issue raised by parent Janna Wade, a Placentia resident raising a 2-year-old son.

“When I held my first-born child in my arms, I was overcome with an overwhelming sense of love, but also something else I had never experienced – an overwhelming instinct to protect my young,” Wade said. “When the first vote was passed on the medical marijuana ordinance … that ‘mama bear’ instinct inside of me was reignited, accompanied by mental anguish and sleepless nights worried about how I was going to keep my children safe.”

Wade is part of a coalition of residents and volunteers who said they passed out 6,000 fliers raising awareness on the marijuana issue in the two weeks since the last council meeting.

After hours of hearing concerns much like Wade’s, the council swiftly voted down on the ordinance, putting the matter to bed and eliciting wild cheers from the room.

Placentia resident Anthony Khounani argued in favor of allowing medical marijuana businesses. Tuesday’s outcome didn’t come as much of a surprise to him, but he said he remained convinced that change is just over the horizon, particularly on the state level.

“There’s a lot of old education on the subject based on myths, fears and misunderstanding,” he said. “These are good people who love their city, love their children and want the best for them. I absolutely commend them for it.”

“It’s just unfortunate that people are demonizing and criminalizing good people trying to get the same medication that everyone else is,” he said.

Change may be coming in November with a ballot initiative or even further down the road – but for now, Wade said she was happy the council listened to the residents.

“It gives me hope to know that we really do have people that care about us – that they were willing to listen to us,” Wade said. “I’m so excited that we can have a pleasant place to live and that we can preserve the community that we love.”

Original story http://www.ocregister.com/articles/marijuana-718614-council-medical.html

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