Jul 29, 2014
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Council Candidates on Medical Marijuana

Stay tuned this week as we share answers to your burning questions from City Council candidates. Click "Keep me posted" below for an alert when we publish items related to the November 2012 election.

Council Candidates on Medical Marijuana

Stay tuned this week as we share answers to your burning questions from Albany City Council candidates. Click "Keep me posted" below for an alert when we publish items about the election. Don't forget to mark your calendar for two forums in October to help you meet the candidates. See our  full Abany 2012 Election Guide here. Have more questions? Comment on individual candidate profiles to ask for more information.

What plans would the candidates pursue regarding a marijuana dispensary in Albany? What would the candidates do in the event that permitting and regulating of dispensaries could be done by cities? Are the candidates proactive in matters of community health? 

NICK PILCH (PATCH PROFILE)

We currently do not allow marijuana dispensaries in Albany. I would likely not seek to take action to allow them before I could do more research, even though I do support medical marijuana. If Albany were able to consider a dispensary, I would research current dispensaries in small cities such as ours (if any exist) to evaluate their impact there. I'm uncertain as to the meaning of the last question, but I promote health through Albany Strollers & Rollers, which encourages walking and biking for the health benefits it brings, among many other reasons.

TOD ABBOTT (PATCH PROFILE)

The application for a dispensary on Solano Avenue was a test of Albany’s code governing marijuana dispensaries. I personally supported that application because I got to know the brothers making the application (disclosure: my company built their website) and came to respect their clinical take on a dispensary — I felt that if Albany was going to follow its plans for a dispensary in the city, this was the kind of facility that would best fit the city. I was always skeptical of the location for the dispensary and was not surprised by neighbor resistance and denial of the application. 

But we’re in an awkward position — we voted to allow a dispensary in the city, but the only location that qualifies is close to an existing dispensary in Richmond and inconveniently distant for some in their greatest need. So we need to consider why the voters agreed that a dispensary was needed. If it was out of compassion for those who need a dispensary, we should revise our ordinance to allow a centrally located facility (identifying specific locations where facilities would be acceptable). If it was for some other reason we could revise our ordinance to specify Cleveland avenue.

PETER MAASS (PATCH PROFILE)

I currently have no plans regarding a marijuana dispensary in Albany. It’s my recollection that on the advice of the City Attorney, the Council removed the law permitting a dispensary a couple of years ago. I take a mostly libertarian view of marijuana. Government wastes a lot of time and money using police and prisons to deal with the problems around pot when most of these issues could be better handled by the Public Health sector. As to medical dispensaries, the issue seems to parallel the cell tower issue. Most people recognize the needs (marijuana access for patients or better phone coverage) but few are excited about having either a cell tower or dispensary anywhere close to where they live.

Probably my most proactive work for community health is in the realm of coaching my daughter’s Soccer team. On a wider, international level, I have volunteered at many fund raising events for the SEVA foundation.

PEGGY THOMSEN (PATCH PROFILE)

I am not pursuing any plans regarding a marijuana dispensary in Albany.

SHERI SPELLWOMAN (PATCH PROFILE)

The citizens of Albany voted in 2006, Measure D, to establish a single medical marijuana dispensary in the City of Albany, subject to regulations of City Council. I strongly support this measure. Last year, Albany City Council passed an ordinance to prohibit such dispensaries, in response to a court case, Pack v. Superior Court of Los Angeles County, which prohibited cities from regulating marijuana sales. This case was dismissed in the California Supreme Court in August of this year.  Albany's Ordinance specifies that the City will follow new legal developments as they unfold. Therefore, as a member of City Council I will revisit this issue and reassess the situation. I support the majority of Albany voters who would like to establish a medical marijuana dispensary here that is regulated by City Council. Personally, I am committed to natural and holistic health and I am pro-active in the community. I have been a yoga teacher for about 20 years, teaching adults and children of all ages. I have been active in the organic foods movement for just as long. For more information about me visit my website: http://spellwomanforalbany.org.

ULAN MCKNIGHT (PATCH PROFILE)

I am a strong advocate for medical marijuana. 

I became a medical marijuana patient because I believe our government should provide compassionate care to those in need. I wanted to learn what a patient had to go through. To put it bluntly, I am disgusted by Albany politics as it relates to this issue. The Albany voters have spoken numerous times asking City Council to approve a dispensary. I have spoken at countless meetings in support of compassionate care. 

Recently, against the will of Albany voters, City Council rescinded our ordinance allowing a medical marijuana dispensary within Albany. I will work to create an environment where a medical marijuana dispensary can thrive within Albany city limits. [READ MORE]

MICHAEL BARNES (PATCH PROFILE)

This issue needs to stay on the back burner. Albany may have voted for a dispensary in the abstract, but when it came time to actually put it somewhere, no one wanted anywhere near their back yard, much less near local parks and schools.

I have had friends who were undergoing chemotherapy who found the drug useful, I don’t dispute that. But I think Albany residents can find dispensaries nearby in other towns. 

Given the federal government’s erratic but growing hostility to dispensaries, I don’t think it’s a good idea to take up this issue again unless the regulatory environment becomes less murky.

Click "Keep me posted" below for an alert when we publish items about the election. Don't forget to mark your calendar for two forums in October to help you meet the candidates. See our  full Abany 2012 Election Guide here.

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