Councilman Quirk’s Remarks on Medical Marijuana

Hayward Councilman Bill Quirk was hoping Tuesday night to push the city towards pursuing medical marijuana in its future. The following remarks by Quirk failed to move his fellow councilmembers, but his oration revealed a city feverishly attempting to distance itself from the controversial issue and highlighted the power of the police department in leaning against the issue that likely to jump to the forefront in the minds of Californian’s later this year.

This is the fourth time we will be voting on this and I think it should be the last. Again, I am not saying we need to approve medical marijuana, I’m saying we should study it. We approved this with a majority as a part of our priorities last year, but we did vote to delay until we found out what the federal government’s policy would be. When that policy came out, we again had a vote and we said let’s go ahead with that. The mayor, of course, was opposed and he said let’s have a work session on this and we’ll discuss it in more detail. That never happened. We asked staff to do it. It never happened. The city manager said, well, we’ll just approve it as part of out priorities for next year. I said that would be fine and I expected that there wouldn’t be the sort of venomous attack on this without ever doing the studies. Without [medical marijuana advocate] Dale Gieringer here talking about the success of Oakland. We had success here in Kern County, Santa Rosa. Berkeley’s business of the year was a pot dispensary. We have a dispensary here with a woman who has been running it for 10 years.

Staff is saying it wasn’t successful. Tom’s [Lemos, former dispesary owner] was successful. There was a robbery. When they got security those problems went away. My house has been robbed twice since I’ve been on the city council. Do you want me to move out of town? We have murders at Southland Mall. We have bank robbers. Do we want to close all of those because there are ocassional problems? There have been less problems with robbing of medical marijuana in L.A. than there have been in banks. One of the reasons poor Tom was closed is the council decided, with my objection, they shouldn’t be in downtown. He came up with a place only a block or so away from where this Hayward unincorporated area clinic is located. The council decided because some people brought a petition forward, not to go ahead with that location.

Again, what I’m asking staff to do right now is stop asking us whether we want to do this and if we do it tonight it will be the fourth time–we’ve never had to get four votes on anything before–but, there is always a first time.

[Former City Manager] Jesus Armas came up with a place outside of downtown. Tom thought it was fine. We got a new acting city manager. She felt it was not fine. It was a part of downtown. It has never been defined as downtown. The council said not to go ahead. At that time, I wasn’t ready to push it. The reason I wasn’t was because under the Bush administration, for instance, the City of West Hollywood was actually prosecuted by the federal government for trying to come up with very strict regulations. They wanted to restrict among other things, who could approve a medical marijuana card and who couldn’t. The federal government said, no you can’t do this and we are going to go after you.

We have a different federal government now. Yes, it is still against federal law, but the federal law is stupid and we have to do something to tell it’s stupid. I mean, my God, we have a Congress now that can’t do anything about global warming, they can’t do anything about health reform. It will be years before we see them do anything about medical marijuana or anything else. So, we have to take responsibility at a local level. Again, what I’m asking staff to do right now is stop asking us whether we want to do this and if we do it tonight it will be the fourth time–we’ve never had to get four votes on anything before–but, there is always a first time.

This is simply to study it. Mr. Gieringer talked about the success in Oakland. We have had success in other cities. I want staff to look at this and see if they feel the same way. My house has been robbed twice. Do you want me to move out of Hayward? One of the reasons the other shop was closed down was because they were only allowed three pounds of marijuana on site. Tom’s had that same restriction. More than three pounds was sold everyday. They had to go to their cars, bring the marijuana out and bring it in. Is that safe? Was that a sensible regualtion? No, it is not.

We never actually allowed medical marijuana last time around, we simply suspended our rules because we had to stay away from the federal government going after us. This is different. We are asking staff to look at this. We’re asking them, in particular, to look at where it has been successful and look at those as models and to come up with sensible regulations and not come up with regulations where you can only have three pounds and people have to store it in their homes or their cars. We want to have the medical marijuana stored in a vault.

There are other discussions that say, well, the DEA raided that last club. Well, the DEA did raid that club and they didn’t prosecute that club because they know a California jury is not going to convict someone for medical marijuana and, in fact, what are the things he did wrong? One of things is, he had more than three pounds on site, there is a supreme court ruling that says it is not legal to make that sort of regulation. Another says there should not be a limit on how much is raised.

The concern the police department brought up was, we have these places that are growing it illegally. Well, if we now listen to what the supreme court has said, you can, in fact, grow your marijuana for the club. When you make things illegal, it is not surprising people bring out guns and shoot. Prohibition didn’t work. I ask the city staff to seriously study medical marijuana for the City of Hayward and come up with a set of regulations…Let me say, if what the police department is saying that we can’t have properly regulated medical marijuana, then I don’t want it, either, but to me, the evidence is that it can be done properly.

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Categories: Bill Quirk, Hayward, medical marijuana

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