City leaders want dope on medical marijuana

January 26, 2005

, Independent (Huntington Beach, CA)

Huntington Beach officials are asking the City Council to pass a moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries until the Supreme Court rules on the legality of California's medical marijuana laws. 'Right now there is conflicting federal and state laws on this issue,' said City Atty. Jennifer McGrath, who co-wrote the ordinance with Huntington Beach Police Chief Ken Small and Planning Director Howard Zelefsky. 'We're waiting for further instruction from the court.'

The Supreme Court is considering a case between California and the U.S. Department of Justice regarding the legality of homegrown marijuana used for medicinal purposes. In 1996, California voters passed a proposition legalizing medical pot, but federal authorities insist national laws banning the substance override state laws. The court is now considering whether the federal government's constitutionally mandated authority to regulate commerce includes raiding individual homes suspected of marijuana cultivation.

McGrath's Huntington Beach ordinance would include a 45-day moratorium on the issuance of building permits to anyone seeking to build a medical marijuana dispensary. She said there are no such facilities in Huntington Beach, but added that someone had recently inquired with the Planning Department about possibly building a site in town.

The ordinance could be introduced to the City Council at its Feb. 7 meeting.

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