OAKLAND -- The City Council on Tuesday will continue talks about its proposed marijuana ordinance despite a lack of legal advice from the city attorney.
The Public Safety Committee will take public comment at its biweekly meeting in what Council President Larry Reid said is a delayed but undaunted effort to license and regulate medicinal marijuana production in Oakland.
In a letter to the council Thursday, City Attorney John Russo said he is no longer offering legal advice on the subject, citing a rule of professional attorney conduct in which an attorney can fire a client intent on breaking the law.
But Councilmember Desley Brooks (Eastmont-Seminary), who wrote a revised draft of the ordinance in an effort to bring it in line with state laws, said the council is looking for a legal way to regulate safety and accountability in the production of medicinal marijuana -- an obviously necessary component to the state law that permits medicinal use of the drug.
Reid said Monday that he has asked Russo to refer the council to outside legal aid, and the firm Meyers Nave may be an option. That's the same firm Russo hired to prosecute the Fruitvale gang injunctions currently working their way through courts.
"It sets us back, because whoever we get, they've got to be brought up to speed," Reid said. "I was hoping that I could have convinced the city attorney to stay engaged with us on this issue, but we just have to continue to move forward."
In the meantime, the council is continuing to accept outside input, of which there is no shortage.
Longtime pot activist Ed Rosenthal is arguing that the ordinance breaks agricultural laws and sets up industrial-scale farms that would violate environmental rules. U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag has all but promised to prosecute anyone running such a farm.
The conversation will continue at a special Public Safety Committee meeting at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Sgt. Mark Dunakin hearing room on the first floor of City Hall.
Contact Sean Maher at 510-208-6430.