Medicinal marijuana up for discussion

March 05, 2006

Mark Abramson, Lompoc Record

Lompoc council members could decide Tuesday night how to proceed with the city's moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries.

City Attorney Sharon Stuart will present the council with several options about the dicey issue at a 7 p.m. meeting in City Hall, 100 Civic Center Plaza.

 

The moratorium that prohibits medicinal marijuana dispensaries in town expires April 17.

Although the 1996 passage of the state's Proposition 215 allows medicinal marijuana dispensaries, the use of medical marijuana and dispensaries violates federal laws, Stuart said in her staff report.

Stuart's recommendations to the council includes, amending zoning codes to allow dispensaries in certain parts of the city; prohibit dispensaries in the city; extend the moratorium through April 16, 2007; or take other actions to deal with the conflict between state and federal laws on medical marijuana.

If zoning codes were amended to allow the dispensaries, city officials could establish regulations on operations, hours, security, criminal background checks for owners and other aspects of the business, Stuart said.

Already some communities, including, San Rafael and Yuba City, have banned dispensaries, and Fresno and Concord are defending their bans in court. The outcome of the cases filed against Concord and Fresno could provide more legal guidance on restrictions, and would be a good reason to extend the moratorium in Lompoc another year, Stuart said.

If no action is taken and the moratorium expires, applications, permits or licenses for dispensaries would be denied because it violates federal laws, Stuart said.

The City Council is also expected to make a decision on the following issues:

n Whether to swap the Lompoc Valley Community Center, 1501 East Ocean Ave., with the hospital for 15,500 square feet of space in their building, 508 East Hickory Road. The hospital wants to tear down the community center to use the land for a new hospital's parking lot.

n Adoption of four ordinances to help clear the way for the 149-acre Burton Ranch development between Harris Grade Road and Highway 1. The project includes more than 400 homes.

Mark Abramson can be reached at 737-1057 or mabramson@lompocrecord.com.



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