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One month after deciding to maintain the course on its medical marijuana dispensary ordinance, the City Council of Eureka executed a complete reversal of its position when it passed a 45-day moratorium on the permitting of marijuana dispensaries within city limits.
Citing a shifting legal landscape and federal threats, the city council after 25 minutes of deliberation voted 4-1 in favor of the moratorium, which the council could choose to extend at the conclusion of the 45-day period. Councilwoman Linda Atkins dissented.
Councilwoman Marian Brady, who voiced sentiments shared by her fellow council members Melinda Ciarabellini, Mike Newman and Lance Madsen, said, “This gives us all a chance to take a breath and see what our path should be.”
However, while some council members believed that enacting the moratorium was an essential step to protect the city from any legal action by the federal government, it seem that Thursday’s vote could bring forth some local litigation.
Lawyers representing the Humboldt Bay Wellness Center, which is the only marijuana dispensary with a pending permit application in the area, sent the city a letter Wednesday pointing out that the dispensary has shelled out over $100,000 in the past year for the opening on Fourth Street of a 6,600-square-foot facility to serve around 2,000 patients.
The letter states, “If the city does not finalize its ordinance or permit (Humboldt Bay Wellness) to legally operate its collective in the city, (Humboldt Bay Wellness) will have no choice but to pursue appropriate legal action.”
After the vote on Thursday, center Executive Director Kellie Dodds and Joey Burger, an advisory board member, appear to strike a more tempered note, saying that they are keeping their hopes up that the council will lift the moratorium in the near future.