Council votes to hold special meeting: Moratorium on medical marijuana sales topic of discussion

August 17, 2006

, The Daily Independent (CA)

The Ridgecrest City Council will hold a special meeting Aug. 23 at 6 p.m. to consider an ordinance imposing a moratorium on licensing medical-marijuana dispensaries in Ridgecrest.

The item arose last night during City Attorney Steve O'Neill's report to the council regarding the regulation of such dispensaries in the city.

“There's really a host of options that we can explore,” he said.

O'Neill said options include placing a moratorium on future businesses and regulating the conduct of the current facility.

Vice Mayor Dan Clark said he is interested in a moratorium.

“That would give us time to research an ordinance, take a look at the facility and the quality of service that's being offered,” he said.

O'Neill told the council the city can enact an interim ordinance for a 45-day moratorium to give the staff time to explore options.

“I would like to have an ordinance. I'm not interested in a moratorium unless we're doing a moratorium only until we pass the ordinance,” said Councilmember Ron Carter. “I want to make sure everything is legitimate and above board. It's legal. It's not something we can stop, but we can have an ordinance of regulations.”

He said regulations should include a guarded door. “No one enters unless they have proper documentation from a doctor. When you first walk in, there's no medical marijuana in that portion, and they take the documentation from the patient.”

Carter said he wants the regulations to include verification of patients from doctors, building security, a separate room for patients to purchase medical marijuana, no smoking and workers have no criminal record.

Clark said he visited the local medical-marijuana dispensary, Epicurean Delights, and talked to some patients, “and they all seemed to have legitimate reasons why they wanted to use marijuana in our community.”

He said he still has concerns about the legitimacy of the whole system.

“There's been major, major glitches in Proposition 215 that I think we all need to be aware of,” Clark stressed. “I think we need some kind of moratorium until we can write an ordinance that we feel comfortable with.”

Mayor Pro Tem Duke Martin said that while he does not totally agree with Prop. 215, “it's something that's the law, and I will uphold the law.”

Epicurean Delights owner Jeff Clark pointed out that patients declare under penalty of perjury that the information provided is true and accurate.

“If you come into my store and buy pot and go out into the street and sell it, you're going to lose your license back to day one, and you're going to be guilty of charges back to day one,” he said.

“I believe in the ordinance. I believe you should an ordinance regulating the dispensaries,” Jeff Clark added.

Talking about security, he said his facility has three locked doors before getting to the dispensary. “Each door has two locks. The dispensary is in a separate room where the actual sales are made. There is a lobby. I don't need people standing outside. I don't want people loitering in my parking lot. I don't want any drug use in the establishment, around the establishment, near the establishment.”

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