CORTE MADERA (KPIX 5) — The Marin County town of Corte Madera is wrestling with the question of how legalized marijuana will impact the community.
The town issued a temporary ban on cannabis businesses inside city limits last year. It has the authority to regulate such businesses under state law. But the debate gets even harder when residents are split on the issue.
Town officials wanted to know how residents felt about allowing cannabis businesses in town, so they conducted a survey.
“The question that got the 50/50 split on the survey was ‘How would you feel about a non-medical dispensary in Corte Madera?’” said Corte Madera councilmember Eli Beckman. “That was 50/50, right down the middle.”
70 percent of Marin County voters approved Prop 64, which legalized recreational pot. But Corte Madera’s survey indicates most really want businesses to deal in medical marijuana only.
Beckman says the city will take its time on the matter. The Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on Tuesday to discuss whether to make the current temporary ban into a permanent one.
“I guess the best way to describe it is either thumbs up, thumbs down or ‘let’s work on it a little more before we send it to the council,’” said Beckman.
Lew Tremaine believes all the foot dragging is just fear of the unknown. Tremaine is the General Manager of the Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana in Fairfax, which is Marin County’s only brick and mortar dispensary.
“I just think it’s a holdover from the prohibition mentality,” Tremaine said. “People aren’t used to it being legal. It has a stigma…not richly deserved, but it has a stigma. And ultimately, that’s going to fade as people realize this is not some evil thing.”
Tremaine believes Marin County residents aren’t actually as liberal as people think, and that may be making it difficult for places like Corte Madera to know what to do about cannabis.
“We don’t really have the public sending us a clear signal here,” Beckman said.
According to state law, Corte Madera must decide on regulations by September because it imposed a temporary ban last year. If the town doesn’t meet this deadline, it will lose the authority to impose regulations altogether.