Pot store moratorium extended

August 01, 2007

Tania Chatila, San Gabriel Valley Tribune (CA)

The city continued a temporary ban on medical marijuana dispensaries but could make it permanent in the next few months.

The City Council approved a 45-day moratorium last month in allowing marijuana clinics within the city limits and extended it Wednesday for up to 10 months and 15 days.

California voters approved Proposition 215, which allows the possession and cultivation of marijuana for medical use with a doctor's approval. It is still banned by federal law.

"(City) staff is of the opinion that the extension of Ordinance 1305 is warranted for several reasons ... including the threat to public health and safety and welfare of the residents, and increasing crime and to review the conflict between state and federal law," City Planner Amy Harbin said on Wednesday.

Because the city is actively working to clean up its image, a marijuana clinic might give outsiders the wrong idea, Councilwoman Marlen Garcia said.

"I think because of the perception that people have in terms of marijuana, it's still considered a drug," she said. "Although in this case it's for medicinal purposes, in the public's eye it's still considered a drug."

Garcia does not want Baldwin Park being labeled a "pot city."

Several other San Gabriel Valley cities such as El Monte, Industry and Pomona have adopted moratoriums on dispensaries.

Other cities, such as Whittier, Diamond Bar and most recently Claremont, have approved ordinances regulating the dispensaries.

"Diamond Bar has one medical marijuana dispensary in the community and it is allowed to have only one," said Diamond Bar City Manager James DeStefano.

The facility has very limited signage, operates by appointment only and is closely monitored by city staff and police, he said.

"We have had absolutely no issues or concerns," DeStefano said. "It's been a very quiet operation in our city."

Baldwin Park Councilman David Olivas said he is concerned about the potential crime a clinic can attract.

"The selling of other types of drugs, illicit selling of the prescribed drugs - I just think there are enough cities in the region that ... allow such a clinic," he said. "There is no reason why Baldwin Park should also have one."

At the end of the 10-month period, the city will have the option to again extend the moratorium for an additional year, according to city reports.

By law, the moratoriums are limited to a certain amount of time, Garcia said.

But Olivas said an ordinance officially banning marijuana clinics could be finalized as early as the next few months.

"I would be in favor of turning the moratorium into permanent law," he said.

tania.chatila@sgvn.com

(626) 962-8811, Ext. 2109



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