Commission tables ban on medical marijuana

August 13, 2007

Annie Burris, Orange County Register

The Planning Commission discussed medical marijuana dispensaries Tuesday night and determined it needed more time and information before making a decision.

"In this whole debate, we have not gotten all the information we really need," said Commissioner Joe Shaw. "The Supreme Court decision was not nearly as clear cut as was put before us."

Deputy City Attorney, Leonie Mulvihill was not able to answer many of the commissioners' questions concerning the logistics of medicinal marijuana dispensaries.

"I think we can agree to disagree, I suppose," said Mulvihill about the conflict between state and federal law.

The commission voted unanimously to continue discussion on the issue to its Sept. 11 meeting. They also requested that city staff provide further information more than four federal and state court rulings on the issue.

"This is a mess," said Commissioner Devin Dwyer.

The city has no medical marijuana dispensaries. An application for one in 2005 never panned out.

Other cities considering the ban include Fountain Valley, Fullerton, Newport Beach, Seal Beach and Cypress.

The Huntington City Council voted in 2005 to permit medical marijuana dispensaries in specified locations to comply with the state's Compassionate Use Act, which allowed people to use medical marijuana in California.

At the time, a U.S. Supreme Court decision was pending on the state act's relationship to the Federal Controlled Substances Act. In June of that year, the court upheld the federal act.

A month after that decision, Mayor Gil Coerper asked the council to reverse the city's law.

A representative from Compassionate Caregivers on Behalf of Medical Marijuana Patients has said the dispensaries could bring the city more than $100,000 a month in revenue.

"This is for the betterment of the community and access for legitimate patients," Rob Wayman said.

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