Medical marijuana law snuffed out by City Council

3-2 vote eliminates Napa's dispensary ordinance
2013-12-03T23:07:00Z 2014-02-17T15:46:46Z Medical marijuana law snuffed out by City CouncilCHANTAL M. LOVELL Napa Valley Register
December 03, 2013 11:07 pm  • 

Medical marijuana dispensaries have effectively been banned in Napa.

More than three years after it unanimously moved to bring a dispensary to Napa, the City Council made a split decision late Tuesday night to scrap the never-implemented law.

“For the folks that have a medical reason for it, it’s not that I care less about your need,” Councilman Alfredo Pedroza said. “As policy makers, as elected officials, we have to be able to take a step back, set emotion aside and think critically about what’s before us. ... It’s understanding that our decision has serious consequences.”

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Pedroza, Mayor Jill Techel and Councilwoman Juliana Inman cited concerns over increased youth access to marijuana and the risk of federal prosecution if the city moved forward with the ordinance.

Councilman Scott Sedgley, who in August voted in favor of the repeal, reversed course and joined Peter Mott in voting to keep the law. Sedgley cited Napa's support of California's 1996 proposition to legalize medical marijuana, the potential for tax revenue and the need to improve marijuana access for the city's hurting residents.

“I think it is time, we need to take a step forward,” Sedgley said. “It's not going to be the ruin of our students and our children.”

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Mott said he suspects many of those in attendance had not read the ordinance, which he still believes is "state of the art." He said the ordinance would have prevented illegal youth access.

He fears repealing the ordinance will force residents to go to unsafe dispensaries outside the city.

“I appreciate those who are concerned about youth,” Mott said. “I share your concern. I have two teenage daughters. But we are going to force these transactions to happen in alleyways and to happen in apartments and to happen in parking lots. We’re going to have vehicles with lots of cash on our streets.”

Most meetings over the past two years have centered on the possibility of the city and its leaders facing civil and criminal prosecution if Napa allowed a dispensary, a direct violation of federal law. However, much of Tuesday's pleas, particularly those from the public, were more personal in nature.

“Opening a medical marijuana dispensary here in Napa would only make it easier for teenagers in Napa to get marijuana,” said 16-year-old Angela Ruiz, a Napa High junior who attended the meeting with about 10 other members of Mariposa, a Latina teen group. The students wore matching T-shirts and stickers urging people to "Use your brain, not weed."

“Most teenagers seem to say that they get it off somebody who has a cannabis card,” she continued. “It’s really sad. It would only make it easier for them to get it. As a teenager myself, it’s sad to hear people my age say they’re addicted.”

About half the speakers echoed the comments offered by Ruiz, including Napa County District Attorney Gary Lieberstein, Napa County Superintendent of Schools Barbara Nemko and Napa Police Chief Richard Melton. The majority of their comments focused on the heightened risks to youth if a dispensary opened in Napa.

Roughly as many people spoke against the repeal of the ordinance and urged the council to “remember the compassion,” in the words of one speaker, it showed in approving the ordinance three years ago. Others acknowledged the concerns of illegal youth access but said a dispensary would be more strictly regulated than pharmacies and would provide needed drugs to Napa residents.

“We need compassion in Napa, not another fear tactic," medical marijuana user Micah Malan told the council as he wiped back tears from his cheeks. “It sounds like we might be basing some of our decisions on fear. ... Our society would not be where we are at today if we made decisions off fear.”

“Use of medicinal marijuana allows me to feel normal and be a functional member of society,” said Malan, who uses a wheelchair. “When you deal with my injury, feeling normal means the world to you.”

Inman said the city had tried to create an ordinance that would reconcile conflicting state and federal laws, but she said legal challenges in other California cities have shown deficiencies in Napa’s law.

Techel said the past three years have shown that Napa County’s 271 residents who have medical marijuana cards are able to get their drugs. She said her decision was swayed not by fear, but by law enforcement and education experts.

Pedroza said he will be open to dispensaries if the time comes when the federal law allows them and when his safety concerns over youth access have been adequately addressed.

“It’s very black and white,” he said. “If we move forward, we are violating federal law. ... I’m definitely keeping an open mind to see what changes down the line.”

Copyright 2015 Napa Valley Register. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(47) Comments

  1. NapaMark15
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    NapaMark15 - December 03, 2013 11:19 pm
    "“Most teenagers seem to say that they get it off somebody who has a cannabis card,” she continued."

    It's already available in the schools. Marijuana has been floating around LONG before anyone even thought of there being dispensaries. They're called DRUG DEALERS and they're apparently going to stay in business, thanks to a few useless council members.
  2. alanmonrovia
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    alanmonrovia - December 04, 2013 12:17 am
    This isn't that surprising coming from the "leaders" of a community known worldwide as a purveyor of alcohol, a drug far more dangerous to children and adults than marijuana. This decision to deny those suffering easy access to their medication is but a sorry bump on the road to freedom. I personally will henceforth avoid buying anything with the name "Napa" on it.
  3. malcolmkyle
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    malcolmkyle - December 04, 2013 1:16 am
    Prohibition­ has helped to make all manner of substances freely available in schools, and even prisons—how has that helped our kids?

    Prohibition has raised gang warfare to a level not seen since the days of alcohol bootlegging—how has that helped our kids?

    Prohibition has created a prison-for-profit synergy with drug-lords, terrorists, and corrupt law enforcement agencies—how has that helped our kids?

    Prohibition has removed many of our cherished and important civil liberties—how has that helped our kids?

    Prohibition has put many previously unknown and contaminated drugs on our streets—how has that helped our kids?

    Prohibition has escalated Murder, Theft, Muggings, and Burglaries—how has that helped our kids?

    Prohibition has given birth to forfeiture laws that have allowed citizens to be robbed of both money and property without charge or conviction of any crime—how has that helped our kids?
  4. rocketman
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    rocketman - December 04, 2013 5:27 am
    Drug dealers are going to stay in business whether or not this ordinance would have passed. Who are you kidding? As long as there is substanstial profit, drug dealers will be in business. A MJ ordinance in Napa is not going to change that.
  5. Really napa
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    Really napa - December 04, 2013 7:00 am
    What other "medicine" in this country's history have we err had to "vote" if it's legal. (Prop 215) ?

    What other "medicine" do real doctors tell you to smoke it?

    What other "medicine" requires a "donation" when you go to purchase it."?

    What other "medicine" is not controlled or dispensed by dosage?

    What other "medicine" has multiple names such as "purple kush", "cat piss" "devils juice"

    I agree this ordinance might not win the war on drugs but it's also not throwing up the surrender flag.
  6. Crosscountrykid
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    Crosscountrykid - December 04, 2013 7:10 am
    alan, I believe you inadvertently provided an eventual solution. Get the city council to open a 'clinic' that can only sell pot labelled with word 'Napa' whose content is 75-85% native to our county. Create an international brand for Napa County pot, designate certain growing areas based on terrior, and sell it at exorbitant prices. We already have a proven business model. With the increase in tax revenue, job creation, and the mj tourist dollar, well who cares about the consequences. But wait, there's even more. A vibrant pot industry also helps diversify our economic base. Thanks for the inspiration.
  7. Napasdying89
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    Napasdying89 - December 04, 2013 7:49 am
    Yes you care less. Look how many pharmacy's there are in napa. Marijuana is no different than any other medication given for many different ailments only no bad side affects. And why don't you use your brain most of the prescription pills given cause numerous other problems. the only problem I have is eating too much. We might as well bann every pharmacy in napa cuz it's all drugs. And don't think alcohol shouldn't be included cuz it is in my book.
  8. glenroy
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    glenroy - December 04, 2013 8:02 am
    Anyone who thinks pot is harmless is clueless....a good friend of ours is now a ward of the state because he fried his brain on a THC OD...started smoking pot in 9th grade and smoked all the way to the end of his road, the state took his home…. sold it and locked him up....and there he will die unless someone adopts him. There were many pot heads from that era who never made to 40 years of age having become addicted to heroin, meth...then crack and alcohol most of them simultaneously.
    There are more than a few studies that suggest medicinal pot is more a placebo than anything else….but if helps a few fine let me smoke it…but don’t make it readily available to kids any more than it is already…if they want to be potheads as adult that’s their business that's their life..

    In the end the City is trying to protect our kids and grandkids...be thankful if you can...if you can't....then burn another one...
  9. tsgets
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    tsgets - December 04, 2013 8:20 am
  10. GetItRightNapa
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    GetItRightNapa - December 04, 2013 8:26 am
    Funny how alcohol is legal yet people still drive drunk, have domestic disputes, and act hostile. (Meaning they can't follow very simple laws) Yet smoking this natural plant that grows in the ground is just "horrible." I mean it makes you happy, makes you eat, and doesn't make you feel crazy, yet calms you down and is now a recommended medicine instead of addictive prescription pills. As a patient I would love to go to a dispensary in napa but now I will go take my risks to the streets in this dangerous town!
  11. eischeid
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    eischeid - December 04, 2013 8:33 am
    Booze capital of the West gets high and mighty....how hypocritical.
  12. Oh hello
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    Oh hello - December 04, 2013 8:40 am
    Crosscountrykid, I almost spit out my coffee from laughing. It sounds like a natural fit with the Downtown Specific Plan, too.
  13. Solipsistic
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    Solipsistic - December 04, 2013 8:42 am
    Its truly sad the City Council lost Van Gorder. He would have been a voice of reason throughout this process. Instead, we have a group of turtles who are too fearful of potential consequences to make a tough decision that might actually prove beneficial to the community. Marijuana is far and away the most effective medicine for my significant other's rheumatoid arthritis. Would you people prefer she kill herself using all the prescription drugs that are required to supress her inflammation and lower her levels of pain?
  14. Solipsistic
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    Solipsistic - December 04, 2013 8:46 am
    Propaganda wins again, as evidenced by some of the ridiculously ignorant comments to this article. Those of you who are anti-marijuana - did you form your opinion based on televised news, second-hand stories from your parents, and stern lectures from your teachers when you were younger? I am 100% certain you haven't done your homework, otherwise you wouldn't be making such blasphemous comments. You're only embarrassing yourselves. Please do a little self-education. Sometimes it is better to admit you don't know what you're talking about rather than blindly hold steadfast to an idea that was given to you by another ignorant individual.
  15. selim_sivad
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    selim_sivad - December 04, 2013 8:51 am
    > What other "medicine" in this country's history have we err had to "vote" if it's legal. (Prop 215) ?

    Well, there were lots of "medicines" that have had legislative votes on their legality; morphine, heroin (which was devised to keep Civil War vets from getting addicted to morphine), cocaine...even LSD (to treat alcoholism). All have been medically effective when under clinical supervision. To ignore big pharma and cultural influences on the legislative decisions is not being genuine about the issue. Most of those drugs were criminalized due to hysteria from an ignorant (and in many cases racist) population.

    I agree that in many ways the "medicinal" tag is a back door for recreational use, but to just because it's not given out in specific doses for a specific condition, that does not mean that its efficacy for certain symptoms is nonexistent.
    Report Abuse
    HLMMXII - December 04, 2013 9:00 am
    Hypocrisy rampant. Plying that phony propaganda to children too. Those who make money off of the current status quo, and there are many, will never give in to the pain and suffering of anyone else. Very Christian? Don't think so....tsk tsk tsk,
    Shame on them!
  17. selim_sivad
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    selim_sivad - December 04, 2013 9:16 am
    I can't say I'm surprised. Napa is not particularly politically progressive and this is what we get: fence-sitting on something that will become a non-issue within 5-10 years once statewide decriminalization becomes a reality.

    Unfortunately, WHEN that time comes, I'm afraid that our culturally conservative board will be three steps behind everyone else when it comes to an effective licensing and taxation plan. It's truly unfortunate that they can't see the benefit of getting marijuana out of the hands of street dealers- after all, one of the major fears of marijuana is the fabled "gateway drug" aspect. But it's only a gateway if you're buying from someone who can cross-sell something stronger.

    The vote clearly shows who is realistic and who is afraid of making a forward-looking, pragmatic decision. Sure, we'd love to live in a fantasy land with no bad drugs or social ills. But we don't, so we may as well tackle the problem in an effective manner rather than "just say no".
  18. xXGotGrapesXx
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    xXGotGrapesXx - December 04, 2013 9:44 am
    We have the right to bear arms to overthrow our goverhment when it fails us. City council has voted against the will of the people and failed us.
  19. xXGotGrapesXx
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    xXGotGrapesXx - December 04, 2013 9:50 am
    Alfredo Pedroza, wow, what a sell out. Your vote is not for the people you supposedly represent. It is instead about your standing as a politician and to get in good with the Mayor and her sidekick republican right wing redneck buddy Inman. You're a disgrace.
  20. napa1957
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    napa1957 - December 04, 2013 10:20 am
    Completely agree. Napa City Council will have meetings, discussions, more meetings, maybe ask the opinion of other like minded "movers & shakers" in the Valley...and it will take they three years to catch up to most communities when it comes to effective licensing and taxation. We are woefully behind the times here.
  21. gecko
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    gecko - December 04, 2013 10:25 am
    HAH...Napa being close minded as always. Stupid town. So glad I don't live here anymore. Guess you suffering cancer patients have to retire to Florida after all. What a joke! When I was going to Vintage High school back in the 90s...you know, BEFORE medical marijuana came to town...I could get weed so easy...omg SO easy. There were countless houses right around the school that had a spare room for growing. Meet the right people and boom...flyin high and havin fun. The best place in town to get weed has always been the skate park...again...LONG before medical marijuana was in town. Another great spot used to be the vets park...but then Napa redid it and kicked the vets out...but that's another story for another time... Stupid town...
  22. Really napa
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    Really napa - December 04, 2013 11:18 am
    Mott and Sedgly the next Cheech and Chong!
  23. NVMG
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    NVMG - December 04, 2013 11:59 am

    Do U know about Napa Valley Marijuana Growers? You seem to know our Biz Plan pretty well!


    Yes UR right Mark Van Gorder should b there we know that~~ BUT did you know Our CA Lieutenant Governor GAVIN NEWSOM ( owner of the new NAPA winery ODETTE ESTATE partner PLUMP JACK WINERY & gorgeous CADE WINERY) is on the Legalization Trail (as well as the Silverado Trail) TO LEGALIZE RECREATIONAL MARIJUANA IN 2016...?


    We're right with him!

  24. Abouttime
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    Abouttime - December 04, 2013 12:19 pm
    If the council did nothing else, it created a college fund for some of the kids. If medical cannibis is not available to the ailing and sick, they will have no choice but to buy it from high school students. At least it will help them afford college.
  25. Abouttime
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    Abouttime - December 04, 2013 12:21 pm
    Another Jill Techel, Julie Inman profile in cowardice. Is anyone surprised.
  26. Councilmanmott
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    Councilmanmott - December 04, 2013 12:30 pm
    Unfortunately we will have no idea whats in the MM delivered by outside vendors, we will have no idea where, who, or what, the cash supports, and we will have no control over who they sell to. This ordinance provided all of that and more. Leaving this to mobile delivery companies from out of the area does not solve any problems it adds to them.
  27. rocketman
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    rocketman - December 04, 2013 12:39 pm
    .........the will of WHICH people????
  28. rocketman
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    rocketman - December 04, 2013 12:40 pm
    again........which people are you referring to.......the will of the people that DON'T want this ordinance?
  29. VogueLaGalere
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    VogueLaGalere - December 04, 2013 12:57 pm
    What is causing those who plead for "compassionate use" and cry for humanity to
    spew such vitriol when the vote does not go their way?

  30. Crosscountrykid
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    Crosscountrykid - December 04, 2013 1:23 pm
    Glad you had a chuckle. To be honest, I'm not sure myself if I'm joking or serious.
  31. Crosscountrykid
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    Crosscountrykid - December 04, 2013 1:38 pm
    NVMG; didn't know that is your business plan. Hope I didn't let the cat out of the bag. Just seems logical to me: create a quality product, get it branded, and then market the brand
  32. Crosscountrykid
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    Crosscountrykid - December 04, 2013 1:41 pm
    I take umbrage at your remarks. I can't count the number of times I've watched 'Reefer Madness' so I think I know what I'm talking about, thank you very much.
    Report Abuse
    HLMMXII - December 04, 2013 2:13 pm
    Once marijuana is no longer verboten, young adults will be much less involved with it. The fact that it is, strangely, illegal is the big draw of young folks to marijuana. Seldom see any youngsters or young adults these days smoking cigarettes like in the 50's and 60's. The true so called "gateway drugs," caffeine, alcoholic beverages, and tobacco, are sold and taxed to the delight of many. Stop the hypocrisy, for Heavens sake. Some adults really need to grow up!
    Report Abuse
    HLMMXII - December 04, 2013 2:16 pm
    Pretty sure "delivery to Napa County" means to the County line. Don't know of any dispensaries delivering to a persons door in Napa. This means a housebound patient needs to find someone with a car and insurance, fuel etc. to find relief that no other substance on Earth may provide that patient. Sad sad sad. Figures in this town.
  35. NapaMark15
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    NapaMark15 - December 04, 2013 8:38 pm
    "What other "medicine" has multiple names such as "purple kush", "cat piss" "devils juice""

    Umm, a lot of prescription medicine? Oxycontin, for example, is also known as: Cotton, Hillbilly Heroin, Kicker, CsOx, Os, Oxy, Pills40, 40-Bar, 80, Killers, Beans, Rushbo, Orange County, and more.

    Most all abused drugs have street names or slang names, but you CLEARLY know what you're talking about.

    "What other "medicine" do real doctors tell you to smoke it?"

    It is also available in pill form, among a variety of other forms, just as many types of medicine are.

    "What other "medicine" requires a "donation" when you go to purchase it."?"

    How does this prove if it is or isn't medicine, or has a medicinal purpose? It doesn't. It has a "donation" as a legal work-around.

    "What other "medicine" in this country's history have we err had to "vote" if it's legal. (Prop 215) ?"
    This has no bearing whether marijuana is medicine or has a medicinal purpose.

    Any more garbage you wish to share?
  36. Really napa
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    Really napa - December 04, 2013 10:07 pm
    Oh look, you named all the street names for OxyContin that is ABUSED, opiates are the number one cause of accidental death (overdose) in the United States surpassing traffic accidents.
  37. NapaMark15
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    NapaMark15 - December 04, 2013 11:26 pm
    Cool story, Really napa.
  38. jfeez32
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    jfeez32 - December 06, 2013 6:53 am
    Forget healing people naturally. Napa's wealthy still have a strangle hold on the valley...Kids are always used as scare tactics when cities and governments have no other foot to stand on...
  39. jfeez32
    Report Abuse
    jfeez32 - December 06, 2013 6:55 am
    Nice work napa...lets keep paving the roads up valley for more tourist DUI's that dont happen and occasional fatality, oooh ya thats reserved for the check points downtown for the locals...
  40. jfeez32
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    jfeez32 - December 06, 2013 7:02 am
    Alcohol is the true killer.....EVERYBODY KNOWS THAT ! And if you believe marijuana has got its conception in the schools because of a cannibus card you've had you eyes shut your entire life.
  41. Grits
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    Grits - December 06, 2013 12:22 pm
    I graduated from high school in 1974 - and NOBODY needed to get weed from somebody with a cannabis card.
  42. ValleySwag
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    ValleySwag - December 06, 2013 7:00 pm
    glenroy, as always you've failed to cite any sources for your claims. Do I believe your friend is a ward of the state? Sure. So I believe it is directly caused by marijuana? Not a chance.

    On the other hand, here is a couple that gives weed to their five year old daughter. Do you know why? Because she was having 300 grand mal seizures a week from Dravet Syndrome. When her parents started giving her oil extracted from a special strain of marijuana it dropped that number to 3-4 per month!

    Do you still want to claim it's a placebo effect with no medicinal value?

    Source: http://www.cnn.com/2013/08/07/health/charlotte-child-medical-marijuana/
  43. StillInNapa
    Report Abuse
    StillInNapa - December 08, 2013 7:10 pm
    Back in the 80s, some of my high school buddies would go door to door selling purple hair buds, and not a single person had a med mj card. No one got robbed, or arrested either. It sounds like it's time for a reunion! Some people benefit from it, Californians voted to legalize it for medical use, now it's time for the local government to implement a means to accommodate! Stop being such cowards!
  44. CBD Saves Lives
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    CBD Saves Lives - December 11, 2013 1:17 am
    ACeFirst of all, tell the 16 year olds to do some research weed is not addicting. It causes users no withdrawal and leaves the.body slowly. addictive drugs leave the body much faster and cause user withdraw which causes the user addiction.
    a dispensary would not cause children to have more access to marijuana. the access is already there. the differences with a dispensary that industry is now regulated. why is it easier for teenagers to get access to alcohol.it's because that industry is regulated and places that sell alcohol check IDs.
    your neighborhood weed dealer is not checking anybody's ID,
    Those guys selling to kids cant compete with what a dispensary has for patients.
    So there would be less street level pot dealers in Napa cuz all the patients and potheads would go to a nice clean weed store where you hsve to be 21 to enter.
    Trust me im sure a pot club would do big business in Napa, big, isnt that right NSIB?
  45. CBD Saves Lives
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    CBD Saves Lives - December 11, 2013 1:30 am
    Am i correct in understanding that this repeal does not enact a ban on a bona fide medical marijuana collective from opening in Napa? I mean to say a collective is ok, but not a storefront dispensary?
    Biggest ? Nobody asked
  46. xXGotGrapesXx
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    xXGotGrapesXx - December 11, 2013 12:18 pm
    All I have to say is NSIB is going to get sued if they keep harassing innocent citizens
  47. Adamos
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    Adamos - January 02, 2014 4:11 pm
    There are 2.5 million deaths from alcohol per year and not one recorded death from marihuana. Alcohol is by far the biggest gateway drug to other drugs. Don't you care that alcohol hurts children 100x more than marijuana?
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