Marijuana, voodoo science and Escondido

Escondido city Council -- again -- votes against allowing medical marijuana dispensaries.

Fox News 5 had a camera in the City Council Chambers at the Jan. 13 Escondido City Council meeting. I think they were probably there to cover Agenda Item 14 ORDINANCE 2016-01 AMENDING CHAPTER 33 AND DELETING CHAPTER 16F OF THE ESCONDIDO MUNICIPAL CODE PERTAINING TO COMMERCIAL MEDICAL CANNABIS (MARIJUANA) LAND USES AND BUSINESSES (AZ 15-0004), but I did not watch their news that night, and they’ve nothing about it on their website now, so I’m not sure of that.

There was one public speaker on the item, a woman with PTSD, who was a qualified patient. The ordinance’s requirement that even patients could not grow their own marijuana was basically forcing them into the black market. She noted that marijuana did not have the side effects of prescription drugs.

Councilwoman Olga Diaz said she had heard from many such patients, and felt it was not appropriate to just say no, adding that taxes on marijuana can be as high as 18 percent. She understood there was a time-constraint on passing the ordinance as the new state laws might make it possible for medical marijuana vendors to get around the current city rules preventing them from doing business in the city, but she felt they should figure out a way that people could obtain it in a safe way.

Councilman Ed Gallo said he was tired of the state dictating what the city could do. He had spoken with a physician about it. The physician had admitted that although some people can benefit, increasing the availability of marijuana was not a good idea. It is a gateway drug, and allowing its sale, even for medical purposes, would lead to unintended consequences.

Gallo said he knew of one grower whose crop was stolen. So, therefore, any patient growing their own pot, would have their crop stolen?

Councilman Mike Morasco, said he was in the medical field, and that he saw many patients that used medical marijuana, didn’t seem to have any difficulty in obtaining it, and the policy was already being abused. The police, he affirmed, did not support allowing medical marijuana in Escondido.

Councilman John Masson chimed in that the safest bet for now was to pass the ordinance. Delivery people he asserted were followed by thugs, so allowing safe delivery was not a good idea. Keep it out of here, was his parting comment.

Mayor Sam Abed agreed with his colleagues. He returned to his mantra that the number one priority of the council was to insure the health and safety of the general public. Oceanside’s medical marijuana stores had had 45 robberies, and a delivery person had been shot and paralyzed.

Diaz said she would support the ordinance, but they still needed to be concerned about cancer patients who benefited from marijuana. The city should ask residents what they wanted, she said.

Gallo wondered if medical marijuana was any different from regular marijuana. “Not really” was the basic answer of the staff, he said. And this is significant because???

The motion passed unanimously.


This attracted my additional interest in the meeting. I have written before about the antipathy of the Mayor and his three male colleagues on the Council to the Regional Water Quality Control Board’s (RWQCB) requirements for the Municipal Stormwater permit RO-2013-0001.  please see: .

The manual lists what new developments — not already in the process to be approved — will have to do to comply with the permit. At least they all said they did not hold it against the messenger, Environmental Programs Manager Helen M. Davies.

Gallo’s profound observation was that water had been running down a hill that was pictured in Davies’ presentation since the world was created, so why worry now?

Abed complained that developers were now required to go back to pre-development conditions to address the wastewater issue. Abed again asked Davies to reassure him that the City was doing the absolute minimum required by the permit. Davies did so.

Masson became more passionate than I’ve ever heard him. He claimed the RWQCB was approaching a lofty goal bassackwards. The Board did not understand engineering, he said. In Escondido, he continued, only 17 percent of the land was available for new development, so 83 percent of the wastewater problems were not addressed.

This, I will admit, is a valid point, but his next statement was totally incorrect. He said the ocean was the largest cleaner of the water, and did it naturally. Well, that’s no longer true. Coral reefs, the nurseries for countless species of marine life are in trouble, 19 percent are dead, and the rest may be gone in 40 years. .

There are great patches of garbage (mainly plastic) in the Pacific.  In its 3.5 billion year history on this planet, life has undergone five major extinction events. We are now in the sixth, and humans are the cause. Marine fish species are no exception to this rule.

Masson said the permit was based on voodoo science. If he doesn’t understand the fragile state of the world’s ecosystems, and truly believes that it would be best just to let the ocean clean up the stormwater runoff, then it is he who believes in voodoo science.

Abed agreed with Masson, going on about the taking away of property rights, over-reaching solutions, unrealistic approaches, etc. Then he said something interesting, “forget my lot” he said, explaining that he had a general objection to the loss of property rights, not just that his failure to comply with the rules when he paved his parking lot, had cost him $50K.

They made the usual complaints of overreach by the RWQCB. Diaz reminded them that they did get to weigh in on the development of the permit. She was encouraged about the alternative compliance provisions that might aid in improving Escondido and Reidy Creeks.

In the end, the measure passed, four yes votes. Masson voted no.

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