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Medical marijuana dispensaries are on the verge of becoming legal and regulated in Santa Rosa; a council vote is slated for Tuesday, Oct. 12. Last week, by a vote of 3-2, the council endorsed a draft measure that would sanction two dispensaries in the city; each could serve some 500 patients per month. Santa Rosa mayor Jane Bender said the council would consider lifting some restrictions on the dispensaries after six months, enabling them to serve more clients. "I've always supported medical marijuana; I don't think people should have to resort to criminal behavior if they need it," Bender told the Bohemian. Some medical marijuana advocates are unhappy with the proposed ordinance, saying it unfairly limits the number of people each dispensary can serve and saddles owners with restrictions, such as ensuring the dispensaries are at least 500 feet from schools and parks. "This is a go-slow approach to ensure these places will be safe and won't impinge on neighborhoods," Bender said. "I don't think we could pass a more liberal ordinance." On the other side, opponents say the dispensaries could foster unruly behavior and are often used by those who want marijuana for recreational, not medicinal, purposes. Council members Bob Bender and John Sawyer opposed the draft measure; two council members didn't vote. "I'm for medical marijuana, but this puts officers in a difficult position," Sawyer said. "I expected it (marijuana) to come from pharmacies, not businesses on the streets." Medical marijuana was endorsed by California voters in 1996 with the passage of Proposition 215.
Rocks and Dust
Almost 100 people attended a public hearing Sunday in Forestville to voice their concerns about proposed gravel mining expansion. According to Sig Anderman of Forestville Citizens for Sensible Growth, residents expressed their fears about the traffic, dust, exhaust fumes and parking issues that expanded mining operations would engender. Most locals oppose "the current level of trucks, diesel and dust, and we don't want more," he said. Two gravel mining operations near Forestville, in Blue Rock and Canyon Rock canyons, are seeking permits that would allow them to expand operations. The Sonoma County Planning Commission will consider these applications on Oct. 6.
No Free Bridge?
Bicyclists may have to dig into their spandex and pay to cross the Golden Gate Bridge. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed a bill last week that would have prohibited the bridge district from charging tolls on people who crossed the bridge on their own power. The former muscleman said he encourages people to hike and bike across the bridge but that the state shouldn't limit the district's power to assess tolls. The bill, AB 748, would have prohibited all California bridges from charging hikers and bikers. Bridge officials are trying to combat a long-term deficit and believe a toll on cyclists could raise up to $1.5 million. But they say no hiker-biker tolls are imminent.
—Briefs by Michael Shapiro
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From the October 5-11, 2005, 2005 issue of the North Bay Bohemian.
© 2005 Metro Publishing Inc.