The decision of whether or not to allow retail cannabis dispensaries in Corte Madera was a difficult one for me. When we first considered the issue in December of 2018, I felt that regulating cannabis more strictly than we regulate alcohol would be hypocritical; it seems clear to me that alcohol presents a greater danger to public health and safety, and yet there's a liquor store right across the street from Town Hall.
However, over the ensuing months, my thoughts on the issue began to change. This process began as a result of meetings I had with several doctors and medical researches from Corte Madera and the surrounding areas, who presented to me their views on the medical dangers of cannabis use (data shows a correlation between cannabis use and psychosis).
Their points and the underlying evidence they presented concerned me, but the potential dangers of adult cannabis use alone didn't convince me that we should act to restrict its availability; I firmly believe that adults need to be free to make their own decisions, even if they are what some might consider to be bad decisions—and that extends to the decision to use cannabis, which adults are entitled to use under California law.
For me, the turning point came in March, when we adopted our Tobacco Retailer License Ordinance—a response to the epidemic of tobacco use by local youth. Among other things, the ordinance banned the sale of flavored tobacco products in town, such as the flavorful vape juices that are blatantly marketed towards kids and wildly popular at local schools.
Banning the sale of flavored tobacco products was a no-brainer; something had to be done to restrict the availability of these harmful and addictive products to our kids, and local parents were overwhelmingly thankful.
But shortly thereafter, it dawned on me that banning cannabis dispensaries was no different: a parallel action to address essentially the same problem. It became clear to me that restricting opportunities for kids to purchase cannabis in town was part of a responsible reaction to the epidemic of underage cannabis abuse.
I was able to arrive at this conclusion in part because online delivery remains a viable (and perhaps, the preferred) way for adults to obtain cannabis, as is their right under law. Indeed, the minority of Corte Maderans who spoke out against the ban on dispensaries cited Corte Madera's overwhelming support for Proposition 64, which legalized cannabis use by adults statewide. But that support did not translate into equally strong support for dispensaries in town, as demonstrated by public opinion surveys and the public comment received by the Town Council as we debated this ordinance.
At the end of the day, I voted to ban cannabis dispensaries in Corte Madera (while continuing to allow deliveries) because I found that position to strike the right balance between respecting adults' right to use cannabis and the need to respond to the epidemic of cannabis abuse among local youth.