Jim Prola is San Leandro’s most liberal councilmember. Monday night, he urged his colleagues to look at expanding the burgeoning and lucrative medical marijuana trade into San Leandro. None of them registered much opinion on the subject, but all approved of the staff recommendation to move forward with drafting an ordinance banning dispensaries and grow centers within city limits. Below is Prola’s impassioned plea in favor of medical marijuana based on its inevitable legalization, safety based on regulation and compassion for those in need of pain relief:
While state voters authorized the use of medical marijuana in 1996 little has been done to regulate its cultivation and the result is a hodge-podge of basement plots and vacant storefront mini-farms and backwoods plantations. Basically, it’s keeping the industry in the black market. It invites ad-hoc electrical systems which lead to fires, burglaries, home invasions and all types of crime is associated with what we have right now. Oakland’s plan include inspections of growing sites, fire and safety codes along with a slew of other requirements.
I do think if you’re going to allow medical marijuana—and the voters did—for AIDS and cancer patients and I’ve known a lot of older people that alleviated their pain when they were undergoing cancer treatment. It allowed them to eat or drink things and keep things down. If you’re going to allow medical marijuana then you’re going to have to figure out how you can grow marijuana in a manner that is most safe. Now, growing it in back alleys and a lot of housing and everything—it’s not safe. It is absolutely not safe.
I do think in California, whether it is 2012 or 2016, marijuana is going to be legalized. There’s no doubt in mind every time it has come to a vote, it has come closer. I do think that we as a city need to be responsible and have to be able to do anything in a safe manner. I much rather see large scale cultivation or at least on a larger scale than we have it right now. A person that is sick doesn’t grow 12 marijuana plants. They can’t. They have to purchase it somewhere. Somebody has to grow it. Right now, it’s growing in our back alleys. It’s growing all over every city and I do think that if you want to eliminate the drug cartels you have to have cultivation facilities that are safe and well-guarded.
We have to be in position when it becomes legal that we have something on the books that will do this in a correct manner. I’m in favor of having ordinances in place that if this should ever become legal in California, that we will be able to have safe grow facilities rather than having backyard grow facilities, which we have right now. The same amount of marijuana is going to be consumed by medical marijuana patients. It has to grow somewhere.
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