Sean Becker said he has an aggressive form of multiple sclerosis, but he moves around since beginning to take medical marijuana four months ago.
Becker and other members of a Stockton-area group called Legitimate Cannabis Collective spoke to the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday about the benefits of having medical marijuana dispensaries in the county.
Nevertheless, the Board of Supervisors adopted an urgency ordinance temporarily banning dispensaries in unincorporated areas of the county.
The ban, approved on Tuesday, is good for 45 days while the county Community Development Department prepares a permanent ordinance.
Several members of Legitimate Cannabis Collective spoke to the board about the benefits of having dispensaries locally.
Becker said that having dispensaries would increase tax revenue to the financially strapped county.
"We want to do it right," Becker said. "We're trying to establish community support."
Mary Wanda, a member of the collective, added, "It's an underground industry. We'd like to bring it above ground."
The cities of Lodi and Galt already have temporary bans on marijuana dispensaries.
"The intent of the (county) ordinance is to prohibit the establishment of storefront cannabis dispensaries," Community Development Director Kerry Sullivan said. "The ordinance is not intended to conflict with the Compassionate Use Act and the Medical Marijuana Program of the Health and Safety Code."
Saying that voters had spoken when they approved medical marijuana in 1996, Supervisor Larry Ruhstaller wondered why an ordinance is needed.
"I don't understand why we're making this so complicated," Ruhstaller said. "I thought the pharmacies would dispense it."
Nevertheless, the board unanimously approved the ordinance temporarily banning dispensaries.
"There is a current and immediate threat to the public health, safety or welfare," according to the ordinance. "This finding can be made because the San Joaquin County Community Development Department has received calls from at least 10 individuals or groups … ."
Without regulations, other cities and counties have experienced land-use conflicts, police calls and other issues, Sullivan said.
Ruhstaller wanted to ensure that marijuana supporters were included in the development of the permanent ordinance.
"Are we working with these people, or are we working toward a ban?" he asked.
"We haven't started work on it," Sullivan replied.
Stockton resident Bob Bentz told supervisors he strongly opposes marijuana dispensaries in the county because people just get intoxicated by the substance.
"Perhaps we should plant some marijuana on Weber Avenue in the median," Bentz said with tongue in cheek.
Becker, a medicinal marijuana user, said he hopes that legalization of dispensaries in San Joaquin County would benefit the community in ways like creating recreational youth centers.
"We don't want it to be a catalyst for the recreational use of marijuana," he added.