LA County Supe targets marijuana dispensaries

May 23, 2005

Shirley Hsu, Whittier Daily News

Medical marijuana dispensaries in unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County could face regulations for the first time under a proposal submitted by county Supervisor Don Knabe.

The Board of Supervisors will vote Tuesday on creating zoning regulations on marijuana dispensaries to ensure they do not have negative impacts on surrounding neighborhoods, Knabe said in a prepared statement.

'It is imperative that these facilities not be located near homes or schools and that neighbors be notified of the intent to open such facilities,' he said.

The action comes as two medical marijuana advocates seek to open a dispensary in the unincorporated community of Hacienda Heights.

Residents are concerned about the dispensary's possible location within a mile of an elementary school, a middle school, two parks and the library.

Kris Hermes, spokesman for Americans for Safe Access, a medical marijuana advocacy group, said the organization embraces 'reasonable regulations' on medical marijuana dispensaries.

'Generally, ordinances that are adopted are a positive sign that the city or county has taken steps to regulate safe access for medical marijuana patients,' Hermes said.

However, the organization disapproves of moves to cap the number of dispensaries allowed in a city or county, and of regulations limiting their location, Hermes said.

Someone wishing to open a business in an unincorporated county area must first go through the county's Regional Planning Department for zoning approval. Certain businesses, including restaurants and others concerning the public, must then obtain business licenses.

But no one has ever applied to open a medical marijuana dispensary in an unincorporated county area, and there are now no zoning regulations that deal with them, said John Calas, administrator for the county's land use regulation division.

A California state law passed in 1996 protects patients who grow and use marijuana for medical purposes, but federal law prohibits the drug. In recent years, several California cities have banned, passed moratoriums on, or enacted regulations on dispensaries.

Several cities, including Pasadena, looked to the Northern California city of Rocklin's report citing complaints of illegal drug dealing and petty crime surrounding existing dispensaries in other cities.

Be the first to Comment

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.