By ELIZABETH VARIN, Staff Writer
Cannabis is an effective pain reliever and helps overcome side effects of chronic pain medicine, said Dr. Wally Marsh at Tuesday’s El Centro City Council meeting.
Medical marijuana was a topic of discussion at the meeting as three people came before the council to “dispose myths of medical marijuana,” Marsh said.
Marsh was an ophthalmologist for more than 40 years in Lompoc near Santa Barbara before switching to a cannabis consultant two years ago, he said. He sees medical marijuana as a “wonder drug,” not only being natural but also with the potential to benefit a lot of people. However, residents here don’t have access to it.
“I would like to see this council clear the way for people to buy marijuana in a safe way,” he said.
El Centro resident Joann Villareal agreed. Villareal was the director at the alleged dispensary that was shut down last week.
“I’m here for the patients of El Centro,” she said to the council, adding that a collective or dispensary is a safe environment for patients. “We’re just looking for some help from you.”
In the three weeks the collective on Fifth Street in El Centro was open, people from all walks of life, including veterans, the elderly and those in wheelchairs, came in to get help, she said.
“These are medical patients with needs,” she said.
Placing a moratorium, as the city had done, is taking away rights from collectives, said Lanny Swerdlow, registered nurse and medical marijuana activist from Riverside. Patients need the medicine, and the city must enforce state law.
The city placed a moratorium on dispensaries at its April 21 meeting, and later extended the hold at the June 2 meeting.
There were multiple reasons that Mayor Cheryl Viegas-Walker previously said as to why the city decided to wait until the beginning of October to take action. The first was to await a decision in the appellate court about another city banning marijuana dispensaries.
The moratorium also allowed staff time to find an appropriate land zone to classify a dispensary, she said. The final reason was to see what the outcome of the November election will be as one of the ballot measures would be whether to legalize marijuana for all adults in California.
“It’s an issue that isn’t going away,” she told the three, who said they would be back at other meetings to discuss the issue.