Cities take sides on medical marijuana

November 16, 2006

Lori Consalvo, Daily Bulletin (Ontario, CA)

CLAREMONT - If it were up to Darrell Kruse, anyone who wanted to consume or cultivate marijuana should be able to - for medical reasons, of course.

"There are patients all over that require the medicine, or feel that they do," said Kruse, a Corona resident who owns a medical marijuana dispensary in Claremont.

Since he opened his business in September, called Claremont All-Natural Nutrition Aids Buyers Information Service, or CANNABIS, Kruse has been in an ongoing battle with city officials.

Several cities throughout the Inland Valley, including Claremont, Upland, Norco and Pomona, have addressed marijuana distribution.

Upland recently voted to prohibit the dispensaries, while Pomona, Norco and Claremont have each enacted a temporary moratorium, with a final decision due within the next few months.

When Kruse started his establishment, there were no laws prohibiting medical marijuana in Claremont. Shortly after his doors opened to the public, the city enacted a 45-day moratorium and ordered him to close down several times.

The city has since extended the moratorium through the end of the year.

"There are actually a lot of patients in the city that use marijuana and have different ways of getting it," Kruse said. "The benefits of having stores with medical marijuana is that access is local and it is safe."

His business distributes marijuana to customers with prescriptions, but there are many other services he provides, he said.

Counseling, information regarding the laws, possession and cultivation of medical marijuana and a location list of doctors are also available.

During the past two months, Kruse has had about 160 customers. But he said that amount is based on the publicity he received through recent conflicts with Claremont.

"That (number) is normal for a business that is set up as a legal nonconforming business that has problems with the city," Kruse said.

In 1996, state voters passed the Compassionate Use Act, allowing marijuana use for medicinal purposes. In 2004, the Legislature authorized the Medical Marijuana Program Act, permitting guidelines for patients and caregivers.

"Marijuana is recognized as medicine by the state of California," Kruse said.

The federal government, however, still says the plant is illegal, no matter what it is used for.

Kruse, who is a prescribed medicinal marijuana user himself, said he has seen that there are medicinal benefits to the controversial plant.

"I believe every city should have at least one (dispensary)," he said.

Upland disagrees.

Despite its comforting applications, the small, green herb and dispensaries that distribute it were banned from stores within the jurisdiction of the city's zoning laws at Monday's City Council meeting.

"You won't see a retail outlet selling or making available medical marijuana," said Bill Curley, city attorney for Upland.

Anyone who has a proper permit is able to cultivate, possess, use or transport it, Curley said. But from a land-use standpoint, council members said dispensaries do not bring anything positive to the city.

"The choice was made to best serve the community," Curley said.

Upland is not alone in this decision.

Forty cities statewide have banned medical marijuana dispensaries, from Temecula to Chula Vista to Pismo Beach to Roseville.

But Curley said the council's decision to prohibit the plant does not take away a patient's right to use medicinal marijuana.

"It doesn't impact the people who have permission to use it," he said.

Lori Consalvo can be reached by e-mail at lori.consalvo@dailybulletin.com or by phone at (909) 483-9391.



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