County puts halt to medical marijuana dispensaries

February 08, 2006

Joann Groff, Porterville Recorder

An effort to regulate medical marijuana dispensaries got a shot in the arm this week as county supervisors approved a temporary moratorium. The Interim Zoning Ordinance prohibits dispensaries in unincorporated areas of Tulare County to address possible location restrictions, for example banning their construction near schools and parks, or areas more sensitive to additional noise and traffic.

Deborah Kruse, assistant director of Development Services at the Tulare County Resource Management Agency, said the move is not in response to any filed permits.

“There are not pending applications,” Kruse said. “We are being proactive.”

Three speakers took the mic on the issue, all involved in medicinal marijuana dispensaries, and all supportive of the moratorium. For the most part, they took the opportunity to speak on related issues.

“We support the moratorium - we'd like this done responsibly,” said Rick Morse of the Tulare County chapter of Americans for Safe Access. “There are guidelines owners of dispensaries would have, and they should know how to regulate them.

“We do oppose the banning of smoking on site ... and smoking in public,” said Morse, who used the effect of socialization and emergency situations, respectively, as defenses.

The silence as Morse spoke was notable, as only a dozen people were left in their seats. This was a stark difference from the scene eight hours earlier, before the crowd of more than 200 people knew that the hot issue, Yokohl Ranch, would not be touched until 3 p.m.

Tuesday's action establishes a 45-day moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries.

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