Medical pot sales ban to get public hearing in Oakdale

January 4, 2010 

OAKDALE — The City Council is expected to hold a public hearing on a measure that would ban medical marijuana dispensaries in the city.

The proposed ordinance would prohibit the city from approving licenses or uses that violate state or federal law.

Police Chief Marty West said one of the purposes of the proposed ordinance is to prevent medical marijuana dispensaries, which are legal under state law but not under federal law, from setting up shop in the city.

Oakdale had a temporary ban against such businesses, but it has expired.

Modesto and four other Stanislaus County cities have banned medical marijuana sales, according to Americans for Safe Access.

Oakdale passed its temporary moratorium in 2007 after the Oakdale Natural Choice Collective opened in April of that year. In August 2007, law enforcement officers raided the dispensary and arrested eight people, including owner Addison DeMoura.

In October, a Stanislaus County Superior Court judge dismissed the charges against DeMoura, his wife and employees for a lack of evidence.

The judge said officers left out "very important" facts when they asked for a search warrant for the collective. One of those facts, the defense argued, was that a confidential informant sent by agents to buy marijuana had a valid medical recommendation as required by California law.

Also in October, the Justice Department took a significant departure from the Bush administration's policy on enforcing federal anti-pot laws regardless of state codes.

It announced that people who use marijuana for medical purposes and those who distribute it to them should not face federal prosecution as long as they conform to state law.

DeMoura has said he wants to reopen a marijuana collective in Oakdale, where his former collective once served more than 600 patients in the three months it was open. He believes the outcome would net the city $300,000 a year in sales tax.

DeMoura filed a federal civil rights lawsuit July 31 against Oakdale, the county and several law enforcement officers who raided the dispensary and his house. The lawsuit seeks an unspecified amount of money.

The council will meet at 7 p.m. in City Council chambers, 277 N. Second Ave.

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