Medical marijuana advocates took up most of the Garden Grove City Council meeting Tuesday as councilmembers heard from several members of the community frustrated over the city’s decision ordering closures of medical dispensaries within the city limits.
The City of Garden Grove sent letters to more than 60 dispensaries last week, stating that they must close operations on Tuesday or face fines of $1,000 each day and possible criminal charges.
The city banned dispensaries in 2008, but never enforced the ban until now.
The California Supreme Court recently ruled May 6 that local municipalities can legally ban medical marijuana dispensaries.
Although there was no item related to medical marijuana on the agenda, several people, on both sides of the spectrum, spoke passionately about the issue.
“I beg of you don’t throw the baby out with the bath water,” said Mary Locken. “Please don’t take away my quality of life.”
Michael Evans also spoke in opposition to the city’s decision. Michael Evans asked the city to consider giving more time for the dispensaries to properly move their collectives.
“I’m asking you to reconsider the seven-day period in which you are choosing to shut down the dispensaries,” he said.
While most people spoke in opposition, some people attended the meeting praised the city council for intervening.
Dan Gleason of the Garden Grove Drug-Free Coalition also supported the city’s decision, stating that the decision will keep marijuana away from children.
“I just want to applaud you guys for your action to close the dispensaries,” he said “We think you guys are doing the right thing.”
People who spoke in opposition to the city’s decision suggested the city try to regulate or tax the dispensaries. However, Mayor Bruce Broadwater said the opposition should be directed to higher government entities.
“What you need to do is get ahold your congressman and get a hold of the state and federal legislation and tell them to straighten this mess out in this country,” he said.
“All we are saying is you want to smoke marijuana, you want to do this, do it somewhere other than Garden Grove,” he added. “The law is the same. We just notify you that we are not putting up with you any longer.”
On the agenda items, the council held a public hearing regarding the 2013-2014 Annual Action Plan for the use of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Most of the concern during the public hearing dealt with accessibility for Garden Grove’s resident with the Fair Housing Foundation, a non-profit organization contracted by the city.
The criticism dealt with the organization’s communication with the city’s Vietnamese-speaking residents.
Councilwoman Dina Nguyen said she received several concerns that the agency does not adequately provide the necessary services for the Vietnamese community in Garden Grove.
“I do believe staff may be working well with this new agency, but maybe the people we serve are not working well with the agency,” Nguyen said.
April Overlie, the director of education and outreach for the Fair Housing Foundation, said that the organization has been visible in the city even though the headquarters of the organization is in Long Beach.
She also said that over the past 10 months there were no issues of language barriers.
“We come to the city,” she said. “We are present in the city probably once a week.”
The city’s former agency, FaIr Housing Council of Orange County, was the former provider for fair housing services.
However, Allison Mills said that communication with the agency was very difficult.
“Phone calls went unanswered,” she said. “E-mails went unanswered. It was very difficult to communicate with them.”
The council approved the resolution 5-0.