Medical pot moratorium OK'd

March 29, 2006

Stefanie Frith, The Desert Sun

The Palm Springs City Council voted Wednesday to keep any new dispensaries from opening for 45 days so that the city can draw up regulations for such operations.

"This is not a drug, it's a natural herb," said LaVonne Victor, who has used medical marijuana for five years to treat problems associated with multiple sclerosis. "I am not a criminal. I am not a cartel. I am just a sick person trying to make it one day at a time."

The City Council voted 4-0 Wednesday with Councilman Chris Mills absent to implement a temporary moratorium, citing concern that nothing is written in its codes about medical marijuana facilities. Although state law allows dispensaries to sell marijuana to patients who have letters from their doctors, federal law says it is illegal to grow and sell marijuana.

About 20 people spoke in favor of regulated medical marijuana facilities, including Victor, who lives in Temecula. Before she discovered medical marijuana, she said she was homebound for 12 years.

And Venia LaBeaux of Lake Elsinore, who was diagnosed with HIV in 1988, said before places like CannaHelp in Palm Desert, she had to grow her own medication and was subjected to a search of her home by law enforcement.

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