The Milpitas City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to move toward permanently banning all cannabis businesses in the city, after a discussion in which many people expressed opposition to the businesses, and one woman was arrested.
The council asked city staff to work up ordinances for both an urgency ban that would go into effect quickly, as well as a permanent ban that would follow.
The vote was 4-0, and followed hours of comments from members of the public, many of whom were opposed to any kind of cannabis business in the city.
Just last month, the council had instructed city staff to draft new regulations that could allow for up to 10 cannabis dispensaries in the city, but moved in a different direction Tuesday.
Councilman Anthony Phan recused himself from the discussion and vote Tuesday “out of an abundance of caution,” as some members of the public had raised questions about his previous employment with a consulting company that had cannabis business clients.
Hundreds of people packed the council chambers, as well as hallways and the main rotunda of city hall to hear the discussion, and roughly 100 speakers offered their opinions to the council.
Some expressed concerns that allowing cannabis businesses in the city will lead to increases in crime, car accidents, and put children at risk of addiction to cannabis.
One woman, speaking to the council, said it’s “general knowledge” that cannabis use causes “brain damage,” as well as “depression and mania.”
Another man said Milpitas, due to the nearby Newby Island landfill, is already known as a “city of garbage,” and he doesn’t want it to be known also as a “city of cannabis.”
Some who supported allowing cannabis businesses in the city said the people opposed were using “fear-mongering” and “outdated ideas” to make their point, instead of facts.
The council voted to have staff draft an urgency ban because the city’s current temporary ban — which has been in place since shortly after Proposition 64 passed in California, making recreational marijuana legal — will expire on Jan. 17, 2019. If a ban or other rules were not in place by then, cannabis businesses could possibly set up shop in the city illicitly.
Staff said the urgency ban will need to be approved by the Planning Commission at a special meeting that isn’t yet scheduled, then by the council, and would go into effect 30 days after that, which could happen before the temporary ban expires.
Following that, the permanent ban could also be enacted. However, the bans could be changed or removed by a future council, if they choose to discuss it again.
Vice Mayor Marsha Grilli and Councilman Bob Nuñez both supported regulations to allow cannabis shops last month. After Tuesday’s meeting, they both said they voted for the ban because people speaking at the meeting claimed they were not informed by the city of the council’s actions around cannabis regulations.
Grilli also said she wants to see more outreach to residents and education about current cannabis regulations in the city and the state, to help counter misinformation she heard at the meeting.
The meeting was contentious at times, as some people spoke out of turn during the early parts of the meeting, and many spoke longer than the one-minute time limit the council allotted for each speaker. Mayor Rich Tran frequently had to cut people off verbally, and bang a gavel to calm the crowd.
One woman, who attempted to speak for a second time on the topic, was asked to sit down by Tran. As she left the chambers, she was restrained and arrested by multiple Milpitas police officers in a hallway after an officer spotted something in her hand.
A fire department staff member and one officer at the meeting both said she had a pepper spray canister in her hand, and may have tried to use it on an officer, but that could not be confirmed by this news organization immediately.
Milpitas City Council supports permanent cannabis ban