SAN LEANDRO CITY COUNCIL | After over two years of back-and-forth sometimes amounting to virtually inaction by the San Leandro City Council over the future of medical cannabis dispensaries, a proposed draft ordinance allowing two dispensaries within city limits is gaining support.

City staff will unveil the draft ordinance at Monday night’s council meeting, followed by a presentation to its planning and board of zoning adjustments commissions in coming weeks.
The draft ordinance heavily borrows from existing law regarding medical cannabis dispensaries in nearby Oakland and San Francisco and would place strict rules over membership, hours of operation and location, according to city staff.

In addition, a maximum number of two dispensaries would be allowed under the proposal to be located in the city’s commercial and industrial zones and, at least, 1,000 feet from schools, libraries, youth centers, parks and other recreational areas. Similarly, each dispensary would need to be 1,000 feet from the other and 500 feet from a residential zone.

Despite the City Council’s slight change of heart on the issue of handling medical cannabis in San Leandro, the issue is still not quite a slam dunk for some members of the community who continue to object on the basis of the pot industry’s negative connotation when it comes to attracting crime. Although, a federal ban on possession of marijuana supercedes Calfornia state law, in their report, city staff believes the likelihood of a raid on potential San Leandro dispensaries is low, despite periodic seizure in Oakland and San Francisco

According to the draft ordinance, strict controls on who dispenses and purchases medical cannabis would be in place, in addition to a prohibiting against smoking or ingesting the product on the dispensary’s premises. To alleviate concern of safety, the proposal would commit dispensary owners to employing three unarmed and licensed security guards. To avoid becoming a center for recreation among medical cannabis patients, no restaurants, coffee shops or lounging areas would be part of the set up at San Leandro dispensaries.

Since November 2010, the council had extended two moratoriums prohibiting the issuance of permits for medical cannabis dispensaries in San Leandro. However, the council never took a hard stand against its possible arrival within city limits. With the most recent moratorium set to expire this last September, a softening of opposition to the pot industry became evident last June, with only Councilmembers Diana Souza and since-departed Joyce Starosciak continuing their resistance. In July, the council directed staff to compose the draft ordinance being offered Monday night. The city’s rules and communication committee passed the ordinance on Nov. 7 and referred it to the full council.