Marijuana sales moratorium approved

November 15, 2005

Charles Levin, Ventura County Star

The Oxnard City Council on Tuesday unanimously imposed a 45-day moratorium on businesses that would sell medical marijuana.

Under an interim urgency ordinance, the city planning division and city attorney's office will study whether to prohibit such businesses or allow them with regulations.

Councilman Dean Maulhardt also asked the city staff to schedule a study session on the matter after the council receives the report.

Tuesday's action was spurred by a request from Simi Valley resident William Vondrasek, 34, who uses marijuana for pain with a physician's consent. Vondrasek, a recording engineer, has two herniated disks from a car accident.

Vondrasek buys his marijuana in the San Fernando Valley, where there are several dispensaries. There is one in Santa Barbara but none in Ventura County.

Oxnard has no zoning laws to either allow or prohibit such businesses. Like Moorpark and Simi Valley earlier this year, Oxnard approved the moratorium to figure out how best to respond to a legal quandary.

In 1996, California voters approved Proposition 215, which allows the use of marijuana with a physician's consent. But in June, the U.S. Supreme Court said that federal prohibitions against marijuana can still be enforced.

Meanwhile, state lawmakers in 2003 enacted an identification card program for medical marijuana users, and some counties are expected to begin the program in January.

Oxnard Police Chief John Crombach said he opposes dispensaries until the courts can reconcile the matter.

The council can renew the ordinance for another 10 months and 15 days. Earlier Tuesday, Maulhardt said he will not support an extension.

"I think there is a proper use of medical marijuana" for people suffering from cancer who can't afford expensive medication, Maulhardt said.

Councilman Andres Herrera also urged a vigorous study of the conflicting laws.

"We are a city that cares," he said.

Lisa Schwarz, who runs the Ventura County Alliance of Medical Marijuana Patients, urged council members to look at what other cities are doing. About 100 medical marijuana dispensaries operate in California, said Schwarz, whose nearly 400-member organization includes 78 patients in Oxnard.

Oxnard resident Chris Gregory, 45, waved a box of more than 31 medications at the council. He said he takes them to control pain for two herniated disks from a work related injury.

"If we have something available that won't make people sick ... I think it is good to bring to the area," Gregory said.

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