Council blocks marijuana dispensary

February 28, 2005

Teresa Rochester, Ventura County Star

The opening of any medical marijuana dispensary in Simi Valley has been banned for the next 45 days.

On Monday night, the City Council voted 5-0 to enact the moratorium at the request of the Simi Valley Police Department.

The ban will allow local police and city officials to study the possibility of allowing such a business to open within city limits.

Police officials asked for the moratorium after the City Attorney's Office and the city's Environmental Services Department received an inquiry from a man who wants to open a dispensary -- a place where people who have a doctor's prescription could buy medical marijuana.

Police Capt. Tony Harper described a dispensary as a place like a pharmacy.

'Why wouldn't they just do that at a regular pharmacy,' Councilwoman Barbra Williamson asked in response. The answer from Harper and the council members was that pharmacies are not allowed to distribute the drug.

The city does not have specific regulations in place for restricting or licensing such facilities.

Added to that, Simi Valley's zoning ordinance does not specifically define medical marijuana dispensaries as uses that are allowed or prohibited within specific zoning districts.

Nine years ago, California voters approved the use of marijuana for medical purposes with a doctor's prescription with the passage of Proposition 215, 'The Compassionate Use Act of 1996.'

Recently, the state passed legislation that calls for a voluntary identification card program for qualified patients and caregivers, limits on the amount of dried marijuana or marijuana plants per qualified patient, and confidentiality and privacy restrictions, according to a report put together by the Police Department.

The report lists hosts of problems associated with dispensaries, particularly in the Bay Area county of Alameda and the city of Oakland, where dispensaries have been burglarized.

The report also states that a study of the issue might take longer than 45 days and that moratoriums have been adopted in 'numerous other cities.'

The Police Department would request an extension of the moratorium if officials discover they need more time to study the issue.

Only two cities, Rocklin and San Rafael, are noted as having banned dispensaries through city ordinances.

An outright ban could be recommended at the end of the study.



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