Huntington bans sale of medical pot

February 07, 2005

Jeff Overley, Orange County Register

HUNTINGTON BEACH – Public- safety worries and legal concerns spurred the City Council on Monday night to temporarily ban the sale of medical marijuana in the city.

No businesses in town are licensed to sell medical marijuana, and city administrators labeled as precautionary the 45-day moratorium, which passed 5-1.

Medical-marijuana facilities in other California cities have spawned criminal activity including public drug use and robberies, city officials said.

The lone dissenting voice came from Councilwoman Debbie Cook, who said, 'It's bad public policy to single out a particular drug for a public flogging.' She suggested that marijuana vendors would be better dealt with through zoning regulations.

Anaheim police Sgt. Rick Martinez said in an interview last week that a marijuana dispensary that opened in December in his city 'has not caused any problems.'

In recommending the ban, officials also cited the discrepancy between state and federal law. Californians in 1996 approved the use of marijuana for medical purposes, and state lawmakers in 2003 passed a bill allowing the sale of medical pot by patient collectives and caregivers.

But the federal government, citing the Controlled Substances Act, has rejected the power of states to pass such laws. Drug agents have raided facilities in California that sell medical marijuana.

A case before the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to resolve the dispute.

The Huntington Beach moratorium, which could be extended up to a year, is the first in the county, but cities throughout the state have adopted similar bans in recent months. The most recent took effect Jan. 3 in Grover Beach, a town in San Luis Obispo County.

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