Council to hold public hearing on medical marijuana dispensaries

February 27, 2007

Sarah Villicana, Porterville Recorder (CA)

The Porterville City Council will accept the public's input on medical marijuana dispensaries at a public hearing set next week.

While the cost to participate in Tulare County's medical marijuana identification program peaks, city officials are preparing to set restrictions on the future of dispensaries in Porterville.

A public hearing on the city's intent to regulate medical marijuana dispensaries will be at 7 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall.

At last week's council meeting, City Attorney Julia Lew advised council members they can take one of three options; allow and regulate dispensaries, prohibit any use of land that violates federal law, or do nothing.

“You can choose to do nothing,” Lew said. “If you do nothing then dispensaries would have to be treated just like a regular business.”

Mayor Cameron Hamilton said while he was “usually not for marijuana,” he did back state law and supported looking into an ordinance to allow medical marijuana distribution.

“I'm not about to close the door on it,” Hamilton said.

Lew supplied the council with a sample ordinance to prohibit dispensaries within the city a copy of Tulare's ordinances related to medical marijuana dispensaries.

The sample ordinance is a one sentence guideline that would indirectly prohibit dispensaries by restricting land use within the city.

The sample provision reads, “No use of land, under this Title, shall be permitted within the city limits if such a use shall be in violation of any local, state or federal laws.”

Tulare allows dispensaries along with strict rules prohibiting the smoking or consumption of medical marijuana anywhere in the city with the exception of private residences.

Cultivation of medical marijuana must also take place in a fully enclosed, locked structure.

Additionally, the city sets the guidelines for where dispensaries may be located, what security measures are required and how much marijuana can be possessed inside the business.

Councilman Pedro Martinez expressed passionate opposition to allowing dispensaries into the city.

“I would not allow this in my house,” Martinez said. “I could not support any ordinance except for the one line prohibiting it.”

The council also voted to extend the city's current moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries for an additional 10 months while an ordinance is being considered.

Contact Sarah Villicana at 784-5000, Ext. 1045, or svillicana@portervillerecorder.com.



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