Simi Valley’s moratorium on medical marijuana continues

March 17, 2005

Michelle Knight, Simi Valley Acorn

Will a marijuana pharmacy be opening up soon on a street near you? The Simi Valley City Council last month unanimously passed an urgency ordinance, placing a 45-day moratorium on allowing such businesses to open while it studies the matter.

Approved by voters nearly 10 years ago, Prop. 215 makes the medical use of marijuana legal when prescribed by a doctor. As a result, medical marijuana dispensaries, also known as cannabis clubs, have sprung up in areas such as San Francisco and Los Angeles. One Internet website lists a prescribing doctor in Ventura.

'I feel pretty strongly about the need for a moratorium to study the issue . . . and make the right decision for Simi Valley,' said Councilmember Michelle Foster.

Police Chief Mark Layhew is expected to have a report to the council at the April 4 meeting.

Capt. Tony Harper said the department will study towns that have marijuana dispensaries and offer the council its recommendation.

A typical proposed ordinance is considered at two or more city council meetings and, if approved, enacted 31 days later. An urgency ordinance, however, is enforced immediately after the council approves it.

An unidentified person who recently wanted to open a marijuana dispensary caused the action .

No specific city ordinance restricts the licensing of such businesses. So conceivably, a person wanting to open a dispensary could do so and claim that it’s similar to a pharmacy or retail store.

But the idea of marijuana dispensaries operating in Simi Valley has police officials concerned. According to a report issued by Layhew to the city council, some cities with marijuana clubs or dispensaries report criminal activity as a result. Some patients have been approached by street dealers, for example, to buy marijuana; others have been robbed as they were leaving the dispensaries.

The medical use of marijuana nevertheless has the support of the state’s medical establishment and lawmakers.

The moratorium will expire April 14.

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