James Rufus Koren, Staff Writer
Created: 09/18/2010 07:12:01 AM PDT
Carry it, grow it, but don’t expect to buy it.
A Nov. 2 ballot measure could legalize marijuana in California, but even if it passes, Inland Empire residents likely won’t to be able to buy a dime bag at their local 7-11.
Proposition 19, if passed, would make it legal for any California age 21 or older to grow marijuana and carry up to one ounce of it. It would also allow local jurisdictions to regulate and tax the sale of pot. Local leaders say that won’t happen.
“It’s not anything we want for our community,” said Redlands Mayor Pat Gilbreath. “I know that would never happen in my community if I had anything to say about it.”
While Prop. 19 supporters say permitting and taxing marijuana sales would be an income source for cash-strapped cities and counties, local leaders say the disagreement between state and federal marijuana laws, the costs of regulating marijuana sales and their personal beliefs that marijuana is bad for communities are all reasons not to allow pot to be bought and sold locally.
“Why would I put this whole mechanism in place to regulate marijuana sales when I’m not going to get anything from it?” said Fontana Mayor Frank Scialdone. “We’re going to have to put in resources to monitor this. Where are those resources going to come from?”
Claremont Mayor Linda Elderkin said local governments have been walking on egg shells for years as they try to stay in line with federal law – which says marijuana is illegal for everyone – and state law – which says its OK for people with a prescription. That won’t change if California law opens up marijuana for recreational users.
“On medical marijuana, cities have found themselves squarely between the state and federal governments, and (Prop. 19) is likely to have the same impact on us,” Elderkin said. “If it passes, all cities will have to be looking at how to negotiate the deep waters of conflict between state and federal law.”
But beyond their hesitance to allow pot to be bought and sold – something Prop. 19 allows but does not demand – some local leaders are against the notion of letting people carry marijuana and grow it locally – something Prop. 19 would make mandatory.
“If they have it in their backyard, I’m not sure we can zone that out,” Gilbreath said. “But I’d certainly like to try to find a way to do it.”
That, says Prop. 19 supporter Lanny Swerdlow, medical director of a medical marijuana clinic in Riverside, is dangerous talk that hearkens back to the ongoing fight between local governments and medical marijuana advocates.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that if Prop. 19 passes, law enforcement is going to be as ferocious and tenacious in opposing it as they have been in opposing Prop. 215,” Swerdlow said, referring to the 1996 ballot measure that legalized medical marijuana. “If the mayor is saying she will work to undermine to vote of the people of California, I think people should have a problem with that.”
Though Prop. 215 has been on the books for 14 years, medical marijuana dispensaries and collectives are banned in San Bernardino, Fontana, Upland, Rancho Cucamonga, Ontario, Redlands and other local cities.
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