Ordinance requires permits for pot clubs

July 11, 2005

Shirley Hsu, San Gabriel Valley Tribune

A ban on medical marijuana dispensaries in unincorporated county areas has been extended for a little less than a year, but it won't affect a dispensary already open in Hacienda Heights.

Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to extend the 45-day urgency ordinance for 10 months and 15 days. Supervisor Don Knabe had introduced the ordinance when faced with marijuana dispensaries planning to open in Rowland Heights and Hacienda Heights.

The ordinance buys the county time to draft zoning regulations for facilities that dispense marijuana to patients who have doctors' recommendations, Knabe said.

A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge ruled July 6 that the county's ordinance did not apply to a dispensary in Hacienda Heights because no permits are required under current zoning code for marijuana dispensaries.

The county does not require permits from medical businesses because they are regulated by state and federal agencies but marijuana dispensaries have fallen through the cracks, as they are unregulated by the state and prohibited by federal law.

The newly revised ordinance now directs county departments to add marijuana dispensaries to a list of businesses that require a business permit, including restaurants, acupressure clinics and massage parlors.

There are now 48 cities and counties in California with temporary bans on dispensaries, seven with permanent bans, and 17 that allow dispensaries but regulate them, according to Americans for Safe Access, a medical marijuana advocacy group.

-- Shirley Hsu can be reached at (626) 962-8811, Ext. 2306, or by e-mail at shirley.hsu@sgvn.com .

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