Finally, someplace gets it right when it comes to smoking.
Medical marijuana will not be subject to the smoking ban adopted by the Sebastopol City Council on Tuesday — at least for the time being.
The council unanimously(!) voted to remove medical marijuana from the proposed ordinance and focus only on the use of tobacco after a series of speakers, several of whom said they used cannabis for medical purposes, expressed fears that the ordinance would interfere with their legal use of pot.
The ordinance had originally included marijuana, as well as a number of other substances, including crack cocaine, reports George Snyder at Sonoma West Times & News.
The council decided to focus on tobacco alone at the suggestion of council member Linda Kelley as a way to allow medical marijuana users to not become entangled in potential legal issues outlined by City Attorney Larry McLaughlin.
In addition, although recreational pot use is not currently legal, that could change with Prop 19, which would legalize marijuana for adults, on the November ballot, McLaughlin said.
By limiting the focus of the smoking ordinance on the effects of nicotine and tobacco smoke, the council was told, the ordinance could sidestep the marijuana issue.
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The council could, perhaps in six months or a year, revisit the marijuana exemption to see if complains about pot smoke indicated a problem, suggested council member Larry Robinson, who had long pushed adoption of the smoking ordinance.
“The point is not to infringe on the rights of people in their home, but to protect others in their homes,” Robinson said.
The city had been working since 2008 to make the smoking ordinance more comprehensive, according to City Manager Jack Griffin.
“The city has already established smoking bans in public parks and playgrounds,” Griffin said. “The proposed ordinance significantly increases the city’s smoking regulations to include a number of additional locations, most notably multi-family dwelling units.”
Current regulations focus on outlawing smoking in public places including retail stores, restaurants, banks, offices, theaters, auditoriums and other businesses.
The biggest change in the proposed ordinance would ban smoking in apartments (“multi-family dwelling units”), as well as in unenclosed apartment complex common areas except designated smoking areas.
The ordinance would require each lease or rental agreement in apartment complexes to contain provisions outlining the new rules.
Single-family homes would not be affected by the ordinance.