Medical marijuana dispensaries are never an easy topic for politicians to handle. So Palo Alto's City Council did perhaps the wise, expedient, and easy thing: they handed the question off to voters.
The council voted 7-0 on Tuesday to put on Palo Alto city voters' ballots in November 2012 the question of whether or not dispensaries should be allowed to operate in the city, according to the Palo Alto Daily News. "I think our obligation is to put it on the ballot and let the public decide," Council Member Larry Klein said, according to the newspaper.
The pot question arose after a citizen petition to open up three dispensaries received a significant number of signatures. However, the issue moved past the council with very little public discussion, according to the newspaper, with city leaders not discussing city options, such as modifying the proposal citizens put forward.
Engineered by Palo Alto residents Thomas and Cassandra Moore, the citizens' initiative calls for an ordinance that would essentially reverse a ban on dispensaries the city enacted in 1997 following the passage of Proposition 215, according to the newspaper.
The three cannabis clubs allowed in Palo Alto would be required to be 150 feet away from any residential zone, 600 feet away from any public or private school, and 500 feet away from any public library, park, licensed day care center, or substance-abuse rehabilitation center. Clubs could only operate between the hours of 9 a.m. and 10 p.m., and clubs would be required to pay a 4 percent gross receipts tax on all sales, the newspaper reported.