Council extends medical pot ban

September 20, 2006

Molly Okeon, San Gabriel Valley Tribune

The City Council voted Wednesday night to extend a suspension on cannabis dispensaries.

The vote was 4-0, with Vice Mayor David T. Lau absent, in favor of an urgency ordinance to extend the city's 45-day moratorium on the approval of any permits, licenses or other applicable entitlements for cannabis dispensaries.

The moratorium was enacted Aug. 16, despite the lack of any medical marijuana dispensaries operating in Monterey Park.

City Manager Chris Jeffers has said the city received inquiries on licensing and regulation of this type of establishment.

Monterey Park is one of several area cities to put such a moratorium in place.

The Monrovia City Council called a special meeting Aug. 11 to enact a suspension on licenses for medical marijuana stores. El Monte's City Council extended their moratorium in late June. La Mirada passed a moratorium in April.

However, in July, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge David Yaffe ruled the first medical marijuana dispensary in the San Gabriel Valley - the Hacienda Heights- based California Medical Caregivers Association - could continue to distribute marijuana to patients with doctors' notes.

At Wednesday night's meeting, Adolfo C. Reta, Monterey Park's director of development services, read from a report that said the city staff needed more time to research the issue before coming up with "clear, comprehensive and reasonable regulations."

The Monterey Park urgency ordinance will allow the city staff until Aug. 16, 2007, to study the issue, although Reta said the staff anticipates placing a proposed code amendment on the Planning Commission agenda in November.

In Reta's August staff report on the matter, he wrote that some potential negative impacts on the city as a result of pot dispensaries could be increased crime due to large amounts of cash and marijuana typically held at such establishments, loitering and disturbing the peace.

An advocacy group called "Americans for Safe Access" that supports medical marijuana dispensaries released a report earlier this month saying that cities such as Oakland, Santa Rosa and Santa Cruz, which have enacted such ordinances, are seeing "positive results," according to a press release on the Web site

The report claims dispensaries "help revitalize neighborhoods, bring new customers to neighboring businesses and reduce crime in surrounding areas," the release notes.
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