Everything you want to know about the Santa Ana Marijuana Initiative, and were NOT afraid to ask!


Here, as promised, OJ medical marijuana warrior Debbie Tharp, along with Kandice Hawes of OC Norml, the author of the Medical Cannabis Restriction and Limitation Initiative which will be on Santa Ana’s November 2014 ballot, answer all the questions you readers asked them in our last article about the measure.

As a disclaimer, Debbie and Kandice write:  “We are not lawyers.  We are attempting to answer these questions, as citizens, to the best of ourknowledge. More questions are always welcome, and we wholeheartedly look forward to the vibrant legal discussion surrounding this initiative.  It can and will be a learning process for us all.  Thank you, with all ouf hearts, for your interest in our initiative. We greatly value the time you take to learn more about it and ask these important questions  🙂 “

1. How many MMJ collectives are currently in the City (approx +/-)?

There were around 45 when we started collecting, but more and more keep popping up. This is one of the incentives for the proposed ordinance.

2. Why doesn’t the proposed ordinance do anything to distribute dispensary locations throughout the city in order to prevent their patients from traveling clear across the city to obtain their medicine?

It is true that the ordinance does not provide for equal distribution, but the commercial and industrial zones where they will be allowed are not distributed equally throughout the city. Not all areas are suitable for collectives. However market forces can and will dictate distribution of the collectives that remain open once the ordinance is passed.

3. Will the collective members be limited to Santa Ana?

No, and we would like to counter with another question. Are the only patients in Orange County in Santa Ana? If there is a concern about a patient having to travel too far to obtain medicine, why should the city border be an invisible barrier if said patient lives in an adjacent city but the closest collective to them is in Santa Ana. Furthermore, why let the city lose this beneficial tax money from residents of other cities?

4. Why doesn’t the petition ensure that marijuana collectives will not be located adjacent to residential neighborhoods?

Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed a bill that would have placed a 600 foot barrier between collectives and residential neighborhoods during his last legislative session.  We didn’t think the barrier was necessary either. Why do we feel the need to separate MMJ patients from our community? Isn’t this the kind of punitive logic that leads to the “whites only” lunch counter?

5. Will marijuana collectives allow consumption of MMJ on premise? (I see the public right of way prohibition but I don’t see anything about on premise consumption).

The collectives are subject to California’s indoor smoking ban, just like any other public building.

6. If a Dispensary has substantial counseling type services, will the revenue earned for the services be subject to the 2% City Tax? I see that definitely for the sale of MMJ (21-119(5)(b) but it is silent on other services but then says the City can’t level taxes on anything else that the dispensary does (21-119(5)(C). The concern is that the price of MMJ goes way down for those who have related counseling services provided to them.

We’ve never heard of a collective charging for services.  In this case, we can only state that we believe that the collectives will not be trying to find a way around this tax. After all, they are the ones who set it.  They are willing to help the city. They WANT to help the city. A happy city provides a happy and safe environment for their collective members. Also, the tax is so small…it’s $20 for every $1000 that the collective brings in. (But collectively it will add up for the city.) Can you imagine creating this huge scheme just to get out of a tax that small?

7. If a Dispensary has not complied with current SA City gross receipts taxes does 21-119(5)(C) prohibit the City from trying to collect the past taxes?

The initiative only allows the city collect taxes from the point of registration on. We have an additional question myself on this one. How can there be gross tax receipts without a traditional business license?  This is one of the hurdles that a collective faces, in that it is very difficult to obtain building permits and other permits because they cannot obtain traditional business licenses.  We may be wrong on this one. Perhaps someone else can chime in?

8. What if 22 MMJ Dispensaries are not willing to operate in the city? I know it sounds like a long shot, but if the IRS or Feds cracks down, it could be a reality. You don’t have to answer this one as it likely such a remote possibility…

We actually did think of this and provided for a solution. Then only those that apply will be awarded a license. After the first round has been awarded, if there are still slots left open, then six months later the registration process can begin again.

9. Why should the City Council have the ability to increase the number of dispensaries when there is already language tying it to population growth (i.e. 1 shop per 15K people)? Can this be removed from the ordinance?

We are not sure that the people would want to remove it, as leeway can be a bit more reasonable sometimes than hard absolutes. This wording gives the guidelines and is in no way intended to be deceptive. It was meant to be a floor, not a ceiling, allowing for more if needed. But keep in mind the very serious unlikelihood that the City Council would want to increase the number of collectives against the consent of the people.

10. Your ordinance does not insure that dispensaries must be located in buildings which are ADA compliant in order to accommodate their “poster child” little old lady with glaucoma who cannot climb 2 flights of stairs to obtain her medicinal marijuana.

While some collectives are at locations that are upstairs in the city with somewhat limited parking, many others are at street level and very accessible.

This next statement is Debbie’s words alone:  I find the nature of this statement by Skallywag to be very condescending when he refers to patients as “poster children” who, if they legitimately needed the medicine would not be able to climb a flight of stairs. MMJ patients come from all walks of life and have many differing ailments, and being in a wheelchair is not a requirement for being a patient. In fact, this argument that patients don’t seem to need this medicine because “they don’t seem sick to me” is getting a little bit tired.

How many people have considered the fact that many of these patients look so vital and healthy simply because MEDICAL MARIJUANA WORKS! This medicine isn’t just for the sick and dying my friend.  In fact, it often saves lives. For others, it treats less severe ailments without the nasty side effects that many pharmaceutical drugs bring to the table.  The chronically sick and disabled person is many a person’s idea of a typical poster child. While some of the patients at the heart of this ordinance do fit that description, the healthy cancer survivor who can run a triathlon because MMJ is helping them to stay nourished, stave off nausea, fight migraine headaches, the pain and inflammation of rheumatoid arthritis, etc, is MY idea of a typical “poster child” patient. Perhaps we will agree to disagree here.

I’ll tell my husband’s story again at a different time, but those who know me know that I have personal experience with the lifesaving effects of this herb.

– Debbie Tharp.

Any MORE questions???

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