Group Says Imperial Beach’s Ban On Marijuana Dispensaries Is Illegal

June 19, 2011

Kenny Goldberg, KPBS Public Radio (San Diego)

A leading medical marijuana advocacy group says Imperial Beach's decision to ban pot dispensaries is illegal. Even so, a number of other cities and counties statewide have taken similar action.

At least nine California counties and 129 cities have banned medical marijuana dispensaries. Many others have moratoriums, or use zoning laws to effectively prevent them from operating.

Joe Elford is chief counsel with the advocacy group Americans for Safe Access. He thinks Imperial Beach's outright ban wouldn't stand up in court.

"There are a number of cases that are pending and we're involved in some of those cases," Elford said, "and eventually the court will resolve the issue. But the short answer is we do not believe those types of bans are legal."

Last week the Imperial Beach City Council approved the ban by a 4-1 vote. One councilman said he believed the courts could require the city to allow at least one dispensary.

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