CA: Stanton Calls For More Discussion Of Medical Marijuana In Apple Valley


Apple Valley – Prompted by the passage of Proposition 64 and comments lodged by medical marijuana proponents, Councilwoman Barb Stanton has asked for a discussion on removing deliveries from the town’s moratorium on medical marijuana.

Stanton – a vocal medical marijuana and Prop 64 advocate – expressed concern for citizens "who aren’t participating in an activity that they shouldn’t be" when she broached the subject during the Dec. 13 Council meeting.

"Right now … any citizen receiving a delivery is breaking the law, in essence," Stanton said. "I don’t believe any of our citizens should be put in that position for something that is fully available to them. So in the short term … I’d like to consider just taking out the deliveries from any ban. We would allow the deliveries while we construct whatever we’re going to do."

Stanton’s comments come on the heels of Prop 64’s Nov. 8 victory, which was spurred by the nearly 8 million Californians who voted to decriminalize recreational use of marijuana.

In Apple Valley, some 75 percent of registered voters weighed in on the issue, according to San Bernardino County Elections Office data, with 13,857 residents voting in favor of recreational use and taxation of the drug.

While those numbers might appear staggering in a town with a relatively conservative history, nearly the same number of residents voted against legalization, leading to a 296-vote win for proponents of the proposition.

Despite the slim margin, Stanton preferred to focus on the outcome while in conversation with the Daily Press on Tuesday.

"This (issue) is huge in our state," she said. "This is our prohibition. We can’t systematically deny the voters their rights."

Stanton sees future regulation and taxation as a boon to the town’s finances; however, she’s not as enthusiastic as Adelanto’s City Council, which sees the medical marijuana industry as the catalyst needed to jumpstart its struggling economy.

"In this early stage, I believe our citizens should be of free mind," Stanton said. "Even for the people delivering, our local citizens have begged for regulation. They want to tax it and regulate it, and I want our town to benefit from it. Apple Valley has a lot going for it. We have a lot of eggs in our basket. This could be just one."

Stanton said she’s pushed the issue hard because she has "very conservative colleagues," but the distance between them might not be a bridge too far, according to Mayor Scott Nassif.

Nassif told the Daily Press he was "a little surprised" Prop 64 passed in Apple Valley, but he added the results aren’t shocking when polls and shifting perspectives are taken into consideration."

"There’s a high republican registration in Apple Valley," Nassif said, "(but) I think this issue crosses over quite a bit and that includes feelings on medical marijuana. The perception has changed and the older groups are moving on, if you want to put it that way. It used to be that Apple Valley was primarily a retirement community, but the pendulum has begun to swing and our average age has gone down."

The often impenetrable divide separating conservatives and liberals doesn’t seem to apply itself to marijuana, according to Nassif, who said he spoke with a number of people about the issue leading up to the election.

"It wasn’t that long ago (Proposition 19 in 2010) that legal pot didn’t pass (in California)," he said. "But there’s kind of a nonchalant attitude (toward marijuana) even among republicans."

And so there exists room on the Town Council for further discussion that could lead to the reaching of common ground, especially insofar as medical marijuana is concerned.

Nassif said even Councilman Curt Emick isn’t as opposed as his profession – pharmacist – might suggest.

"Curt’s not necessarily against the true use of medical marijuana," Nassif said. "He believes it should go through the same criteria and be regulated like any other medicinal drug. I don’t even know where I stand on it, to be honest. I know people are benefitting from it, and I’m okay with that. I think we all kind of have that thinking, but where we’re at in the big picture varies a bit."

The "big picture" for Nassif includes perceived complications related to regulation of dispensaries and cultivation, which – like delivery – remain illegal within town borders.

"It’s a cash business," he said, "so there’s virtually no regulation. That’s what California is going to struggle with and what other states have struggled with. When you have that kind of business, it’s difficult to regulate and manage from a societal and a governmental point of view."

Nassif said increased crime rates remain a concern for him, as does the industry’s ability to foster economic growth in the long term given that, according to Nassif, the free market eventually stabilizes surges in any industry via competition.

According to Town Attorney John Brown, a presentation is in the works for a future Council meeting, during which the town’s moratorium will be addressed in relation to Prop 64’s passage.

And that news appears to sit well with Stanton – who doesn’t want the issue "to get buried in the grand plan" – and Nassif who’s approaching the issue with caution.

"If you can’t convince me, I’m going to vote no," he said. "I don’t want to run into this blindly. I don’t do that in my business and I don’t do that on the Council. I need to know that this is the right thing for the community."

News Moderator: Katelyn Baker
Full Article: Stanton Calls For More Discussion Of Medical Marijuana In Apple Valley
Author: Matthew Cabe
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