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Community says no to pot shops

Loomis Town Council votes down medical marijuana dispensaries
By: Joyia Emard Gold Country News Service
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The Loomis Town Council has voted — there will be no pot shops in Loomis. The council unanimously voted to prohibit medical marijuana dispensaries within the town limits at a special meeting on Nov. 3. Council members were in agreement that there are cases where medical marijuana is appropriate, but they showed solidarity in their opinions that having a dispensary in Loomis would not set a good example for the town youth. “Instead of having a conversation about how we can get more marijuana in Loomis we should ask how we can have less,” said Mike Edwards, president of the Loomis Union School District board of trustees. Edwards said a district grammar school student recently brought marijuana on campus. “We’ve had the first incident in my seven years on the school board,” he said. Placer County Sheriff’s Captain Dave Harris presented a report to the council that cited an increase in marijuana use at Colfax High School after a dispensary opened there. He said in San Diego, at 15 marijuana dispensaries that were investigated, 63 percent of medical marijuana permit holders were between the ages of 18 and 30, and that 10 percent were 17-year-olds. He said those age groups do not typically suffer from many of the diseases for which medical marijuana is used. Vic Markey, of Loomis, gave an impassioned plea to the council against approval of pot shops. “I can’t believe you’re considering allowing an element in town you have no control over. Children outweigh all other issues in this argument,” Markey said. Loomis resident Jeremy Sutter told the council, “We don’t have the resources to regulate something like this. Let the bigger cities that have the resources take care of this.” Harris said that other cities have had problems with oversight of the medical marijuana dispensaries and that record keeping in many dispensaries is sloppy. He listed a number of crimes associated with dispensaries including burglaries, sales of other illegal drugs, purchase of illicit drugs to supply the dispensary and illegal drug sales outside dispensaries. “The youth of our community are important gifts we value. Youth are impressionable,” said councilmember Miguel Ucovich, when citing his opposition. Councilmember Rhonda Morillas said she polled business people during the last few months. “They aren’t in favor of it,” she said. Russ Kelley said patients can legally purchase medical marijuana in other areas and it should never be for sale in Loomis. Erik Peterson, a Loomis commercial property owner, and Robert Dearwester, of Colfax, both spoke in favor of allowing the shops. Dearwester had notified the council in a letter that he was interested in opening a pot shop. Peterson also had informed the council he was interested in opening one. “It seems the town’s wishes have been met,” Peterson said after the council vote to prohibit the shops. Dearwester declined to comment on the council’s decision. According to Perry Beck, Loomis town manager, a public hearing and first reading of an ordinance prohibiting medicinal pot shops will be held Tuesday, Dec. 8 at the regularly scheduled council meeting. Further public comment will be heard at that time, before the ordinance is enacted after a second reading in January 2010.