Supervisors OK Zoning for Pot Dispensaries

January 19, 2006

Kristopher Daams, The Santa Clarita Signal

The county’s first zoning ordinance for medical marijuana dispensaries was approved Wednesday by the Regional Planning Commission, essentially clearing the way for patients with prescriptions for the alternative form of medicine to smoke the drug onsite or consume it in an edible form.

    “It’s a great step and we support local cities and counties regulating them,” said Rebecca Saltzman, a field coordinator with the Oakland-based Americans For Safe Access, a medical marijuana advocacy group.

    “We think it’s very important for localities to permit these dispensaries and give them credibility,” she said.

    The Los Angeles County Regional Planning Commission voted 4-0 to approve a permanent zoning ordinance for a medical marijuana dispensary, requiring the treatment facilities to be located at least 1,000 feet away from schools, playgrounds, parks, libraries, youth and religious facilities, as well as other dispensaries.

    Fifth District Commissioner and Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich’s appointee Pat Modugno was absent from the vote.

    The board of the Los Angeles County Supervisors still must approve the ordinance and are set to hear the issue in the next couple of months.

    The commission regulated the onsite smoking of the drug under the conditions that it occurs in a separate room with proper ventilation and air purification systems. Dispensaries would also be allowed to provide the devices necessary to smoke the drug, including pipes, rolling papers, water pipes and vaporizers.

    Conditions of the ordinance include:

  • Marijuana cannot be grown or cultivated in the premises of a medical marijuana dispensary.
  • A licensed security guard must be onsite at all times.
  • A security system with cameras and alarms must be installed.
  • The applicant of a dispensary must agree to release the county from any liability for injuries or damages that result from any arrest or prosecution from clients, owners or employees for violating state or federal laws.
  • A minor conditional use permit would be required to establish and operate a dispensary. Applying for a minor conditional use permit provides for public notification and public input on such a case, and a public hearing would only be held if there is any form of public protest.

    The county’s lack of a zoning ordinance for medical marijuana dispensaries meant the outlets are illegal in unincorporated areas. A county moratorium for such dispensaries was implemented at the end of May last year and expires at the end of this May.

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