LA County panel approves regulatory plan for med marijuana sites

January 18, 2006

, Mercury News

A regulatory plan for medical marijuana dispensaries in unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County was approved Wednesday by the Planning Commission.

Commissioners approved the plan, which would allow cannabis to be eaten and smoked onsite for medicinal purposes, by a 4-0 vote.

The five-member county Board of Supervisors will review the ordinance in the next couple of months, officials said.

Advocates argued that smoking marijuana should be allowed at dispensaries because some patients can't find a safe place to do it.

"This isn't a debate about medical marijuana," said David Sommers, an aide to county Supervisor Don Knabe who made several recommendations to commission members about the plan. "It is our job now to make sure medical marijuana dispensaries are in the right parts of our community.

Planning commissioners would let dispensaries sell pipes, rolling papers and other equipment used for marijuana. However, the county ordinance does not allow dispensaries to be located within 1,000 feet of schools, playgrounds, childcare centers and religious facilities.

California voters passed Proposition 215 in 1996, which allows certain patients to use marijuana to help treat illness. The first dispensary in unincorporated Los Angeles County opened in May 2005.

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