SAN LEANDRO CITY COUNCIL | San Leandro city staff presented a report Monday night that allows the application for two cannabis clubs in San Leandro at least 1,000 feet away from schools, businesses or parks and relegated to industrial zones.

The council made no approval of the ordinance, but, instead, offered it up to a council work session for public input and for consideration and review before its zoning and planning commissions.

The council was close to banning pot dispensaries in July but quickly turned their backs to a ban when Los Angeles County was sued by a collective of pot activists ultimately successful because of marijuana’s legality as a medicinal drug under California law.

The ordinance borrows regulations from San Francisco and Oakland, but also California’s State Attorney Kamala Harris’s guidelines initiated after the legalization of medicinal marijuana. Although despite San Leandro’s go ahead of pursuing an ordinance that regulated rather than banning pot dispensaries in July, two members of San Leandro council, Diana Souza and Tim Dlugosh, showed animate displeasure with the ordinance.

Dlugosh, an appointed conservative councilman and ex-cop, soon to be replaced by Council-elect Benny Lee, questioned staff constantly if the clubs would attract crime to the dispensaries. Staff referred to the counsel of San Leandro Police who said the chance does exist. Dlugosh in defiance to the ordinance voted against a work session to further discuss the issue.

Staff stated that guests would be allowed into the dispensaries if accompanied with a card carrying member, which councilmember Diane Souza opposed. “I don’t think we should allow that, I think it should be members-only,” said Souza, whose recommendation would have only further restricted the ordinance that progressive medicinal pot supporter and councilmember, Jim Prola, said was already more strict compared to rules and regulations enacted in Oakland. Prola later said he thought the staff’s plan to be a reasonable and respectable course of action.

The restrictions, according to staff, would hopefully help ward off federal attention by allowing only a few dispensaries within city limits. Staff says the chance of federal raid is “low.” In recent years both Oakland and San Jose have witnessed raids on their cannabis clubs with the most famous of Bay Area cannabis clubs, Oaksterdam, raided by federal agents this year.

Mayor Stephen Cassidy offered warning to making the regulations too strict where it may inhibit unnecessary restrictions. Part of the ordinance requires that employees at the club are card carrying members but discussion if those who may work on site at the club, like plumbers, would have to have cards was dismissed by the mayor as an over encumbering regulation. Staff has no such regulation in their ordinance.

Surprisingly though, Cassidy revealed a secret not espoused at earlier meetings that he had attended a cannabis club as a “guest” to a friend. Cassidy once sat on the fence on allowing a cannabis clubs in San Leandro and as the city seemed to inch closer to being the first city in California to ban clubs in its jurisdiction, Cassidy appeared to potentially be in favor of such action. Some city insiders said that Cassidy’s visit had an impact on his decision to give the go ahead for clubs to come to San Leandro.

Furthermore, LA County sought to ban dispensaries this year as well but the ordinance was struck down by California in court that demonstrated to San Leandro that a potential law suit may bring the city to a face-off with California law that they would likely lose. Council members who sat with unease on pot dispensaries in San Leandro took staff’s new directive in July that recommended strict regulations rather than a ban in order to ward off the chance of a lawsuit.