Newport Beach may extend medical marijuana ban

April 16, 2006

Jeff Overly, Orange County Register

The City Council next week will consider extending a temporary ban on medical marijuana distribution centers, officials said today.

The moratorium, first adopted last May, is set to expire next month. Officials want to keep the prohibition in place for another year as they await the outcome of litigation related to the legality of medical marijuana cooperatives.

Newport Beach was one of several Orange County cities, including Lake Forest and Huntington Beach, that adopted pot shop bans last year. Some worry that the clubs, which dole marijuana out to patients with doctor approval, attract crime.

A 1996 voter-approved California law allows such facilities, but the U.S. Supreme Court in June said federal agents could raid pot dispensaries.

Newport wants to keep its temporary ban in place as it awaits the outcome of other court cases that ask whether cities are compelled to allow the clubs because of state law, said Aaron Harp, Newport assistant city attorney.

A half-dozen people have inquired about opening pot cooperatives in Newport, but no formal plans have been submitted, Harp said.

The City Council will consider extending the ban at its April 25 meeting.

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