BRENTWOOD -- Medical marijuana patients will soon have a choice: travel to an outside city for their cannabis, designate a "primary caregiver" to bring it to them or do without.
With little discussion, the City Council unanimously agreed to forbid medical marijuana dispensaries outside city limits from delivering cannabis products to patients in town.
The new ordinance makes one exception, allowing cannabis to be delivered only by a patient's "primary caregiver," as defined under state law.
The ordinance also reaffirms Brentwood's existing ban on marijuana cultivation and its prohibition from marijuana dispensaries setting up shop in town.
Brentwood joins many other California cities that have enacted marijuana-related ordinances in recent weeks. Because of a new state law scheduled to take effect in March, cities that wanted to regulate medical cannabis were required to have a law in their books before then, or they would be bound by the state's regulations. Oakley has passed a measure that restrict marijuana cultivation, and Antioch is set to adopt an ordinance Jan. 26, but Brentwood's is the most stringent of the three.
"These ordinances are not about placing new restrictions on medical marijuana. They're more about the city maintaining local control over medical marijuana regulation and not ceding that control to the state," Assistant City Attorney Martin Lysons said.
Members of the state's fast-growing marijuana industry were quick to condemn the ban, including Eddie Miller, a major investor for the San Francisco-based tech company Green Rush, which sets up networks between medical marijuana patients and dispensary delivery services around the Bay Area.
"As cannabis becomes more socially acceptable, certain townships will be more conservative and try to keep it out of their town," Miller said. "But the truth is, if the state has legalized it there's nothing you can do to keep it out of your community. ... It's somewhat ignorant to think a ban would work."
Erick Stonebarger, the lone councilman to speak on the ordinance, pointed out that marijuana is still federally illegal and cited law enforcement documents contained in a city staff report that show correlations between medical marijuana dispensaries and increases in crime.
"When you talk about some of the family feel that you're trying to promote ... I don't think that's very family-friendly," Stonebarger said, also referencing a medical marijuana crop in California that he said "protects its field with AK-47s."
Four residents spoke against the measure, arguing that it would restrict access for patients who were not able to find a primary caregiver or leave the house on their own. One pointed out that some forms of medical cannabis do not contain THC, the chemical that makes people feel intoxicated.
"Brentwood has a model for this already; you can compare this industry very closely to the winery industry," said Jessie Martinez, who told the council he takes medical cannabis to control his seizures. "We have a model for the winery industry. We have safety that we follow for the winery. We don't send our children to a winery to get wine for their parents."
Contact Nate Gartrell at 925-779-7174 or follow him at Twitter.com/NateGartrell.