Anaheim bans medical-marijuana delivery services
July 23, 2013
Art Marroquin, Orange County RegisterCourier services were immediately banned from delivering medical-marijuana to prescription holders living in Anaheim, under a so-called urgency ordinance unanimously adopted Tuesday night without discussion by the City Council.
Medical-marijuana dispensaries moved their businesses to the streets after the state Supreme Court ruled in May that cities and counties can ban storefront operations, despite a statewide ballot measure that legalized the practice 17 years ago.
Anaheim's City Council prohibited dispensaries from operating in 2007, but waited for the court ruling to enforce the law. All 11 Anaheim medical-marijuana outlets have since complied with a city order to close shop, but some of the operators were circumventing the law by taking their businesses on the road. More than 30 delivery operations serving Anaheim are listed on weedmaps.com.
"I don't understand how they think the patients are going to get their medicine," said Luisa Lawrence, who closed her 420 Primary Caregivers shop in May and converted the business to Orange County Medical Marijuana Delivery.
"I don't understand why the city won't work with us," Lawrence said. "We pay taxes and do everything to keep these businesses legitimate, but the city just wants to harass us."
Medical-marijuana couriers have led to an uptick in crime and violence, along with an increased access to the drug for youths, according to a report from Anaheim City Attorney Michael Houston, who cited accounts from news stories and medical cannabis advocates. Penalties are not yet established for those who violate the proposed ban.
"There's an area-wide concern, not just in Anaheim, that these mobile deliveries create a set of negative effects that brick-and-mortar establishments don't have by bringing these businesses directly into residential neighborhoods," Houston said.
Medical-marijuana delivery has long been an option for prescription carriers who either don't have access to storefront dispensaries or prefer not to patronize the businesses, said Kris Hermes, spokesman for Americans for Safe Access, a medical-marijuana advocacy group.
Hermes said that more delivery services have sprung up over the last several weeks as cities shut down storefront dispensaries.
"I think city governments, like Anaheim, should figure out ways to regulate distribution of this drug rather than suppress it," Hermes said. "They are just ignoring the needs of patients living in their community."