Santa Ana outlaws marijuana stores
October 01, 2007
Doug Irving, Orange County Register
SANTA ANA – City council members voted unanimously late Monday to outlaw storefront medical-marijuana dispensaries, but they left the door open for hospitals and other state-licensed care centers to provide the drug.
The new law and zoning rules prohibit storefront vendors, but not medical marijuana itself. That makes it "compatible with the intent of (California) voters," who have supported making marijuana available for medical purposes, said Jay Trevino, the director of the city's planning and building agency. Federal law bans the possession or sale of marijuana, medical or otherwise.
The city's law does not apply to patients qualified to use medical marijuana who have a "direct, one-to-one relationship" with a caregiver, according to a staff report given to council members. It also would not apply to hospitals, hospices or other state-licensed care centers.
A handful of medical-marijuana advocates urged the city council to hold off on an outright ban and consider dispensaries on a case-by-case basis. Billy Joe, who has sickle-cell anemia, came from Tustin and told the council that he relies on medical cannabis instead of other pain-killers. "I don't like to go to the streets to buy marijuana," he said.
Santa Ana joins a growing list of California cities that have blocked or banned marijuana dispensaries from opening. A survey done by the Los Angeles Police Department in 2006 counted more than 100 with some sort of provision against dispensaries.
Storefront dispensaries are "tremendously negative problems for our community," Police Chief Paul Walters told the council. All too often, he said, they're "just a way to skirt the law, a way to get marijuana for... personal use."
A medical-marijuana group recently sued to block Anaheim's recent ban on dispensaries from taking effect. Last week, an Orange County Superior Court judge ruled in the city's favor and denied the group's request that he block the law until a trial can be held.
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