The Santa Barbara City Council has been debating medical marijuana dispensaries for over two years and has ignored all facts, including statistics showing reduced marijuana use by teens following decriminalization, medical benefits of marijuana, and no increase in crime around dispensaries. (Even the Los Angeles police chief, as quoted in the Los Angeles Daily News, said there was no such effect.) City attorney Steve Wiley has replaced Jerry Brown’s words with his own in quoting the Attorney General’s guidelines for dispensaries; made false statements about medical marijuana crimes in Santa Barbara; omitted parts of Senate Bill 420; and omitted SB 420 co-author Mark Leno’s amicus brief in City of Anaheim lawsuit stating that he didn’t intend dispensaries to be banned based on zoning and nuisance codes. There is a list of “protected” facilities, but rehab and homeless shelters aren’t included.

City council has heavily weighted input from the Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse and the California Police Chiefs Association. The boardmembers of CADA, a huge umbrella org, include the District Attorney, Sheriff Bill Brown, and Police Chief Cam Sanchez. CADA uses city, county, state and federal money for court-ordered substance abuse programs including teen court.

City Council and the CADA president have repeatedly discussed earnings by dispensary operators, not relevant to a dispensary ordinance as long as they operate as a collective or coop, and constantly referred to concern for our children.

These are people who benefit financially from arresting, convicting, and sentencing our children and ourselves to court-ordered CADA programs. Crime has decreased a lot in the last ten years—hard to believe, but see the California Attorney General’s website—and prison populations have decreased for three years. But there’s no need for facts about marijuana or dispensaries, and no incentive to tax and regulate: These people need criminals for job security.

Also, CADA is a nonprofit, similar to dispensaries, which currently uses herbal detox tea and acuptuncture at Project Recovery. It believe it views independent dispensaries as a I potential competitor: University of Hadasseh in Israel has recently found pot is great for post-traumatic stress, probably very useful to many CADA clients. Talk of enormous profit in medical marijuana, and the safety of Santa Barbara teenagers—these are red herrings, brought up by individuals who get bucks for busts.—Maryann Cassidy


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