SAN LEANDRO -- Medical marijuana dispensaries and grow operations will be barred from operating within city limits under an ordinance that the City Council voted to move forward with Monday.
After hearing from police about potential problems such facilities could bring to the city, the majority of council members opted to go with the staff-recommended option of banning pot clubs and cultivation operations.
"There will be burglaries at establishments and robberies of patrons," police Capt. Steve Pricco said. "There is a high probability of violence and a high probability of homicide occurring."
Pricco added that dispensaries could dissuade other businesses from setting up shop nearby because of the potential for crime at and around a pot club.
Councilman Jim Prola, who expressed a dissenting opinion from the council majority, said that existing illegal operations already bring crime and that legalizing grow operations might lead to regulated, safer marijuana farms and dispensaries.
"If not done correctly, without proper security, it can be dangerous," he said. "But it's being done all around us right now, so much that we can't get a handle on it."
He said that illegal grows are happening in "hodgepodge basement lots, with ad hoc electrical systems" and that "keeping it in the black market results in all sorts of crime."
Current law regarding large-scale cultivation is vague, and Alameda County District Attorney Nancy
"I believe it will be legalized. It gets closer and closer," he said. "And I would much rather see larger-scale cultivation" than what exists now.
Councilwoman Pauline Cutter supported the prohibition but also said it should be revisited if laws change because medical marijuana "is such a valuable tool to someone who needs it."
Three residents spoke during the public comment period, two for a ban and one against it.
According to the staff report, six Alameda County cities have similar bans: Alameda, Dublin, Emeryville, Fremont, Livermore and Pleasanton. Dispensaries are allowed in Oakland, Berkeley, Albany and unincorporated Alameda County.
San Leandro has a moratorium on medical marijuana facilities that runs through September. Staff said they will have an ordinance to present to the council in three or four months.