Julissa McKinnon, Press Enterprise (CA)

The Perris City Council took the first step Tuesday night to quash any medical marijuana dispensaries that might be budding in town.

Four out of five council members voted to pass an urgency ordinance prohibiting any medical marijuana dispensary from setting up shop in the next 45 days. Councilman Mark Yarbrough was absent.

City Attorney Eric Dunn said the moratorium would give city staff and officials the time needed to research state and federal laws before creating a more permanent municipal code to address the sale of medical marijuana.

California voters legalized marijuana for medical use in 1996. Federal law prohibits the possession of marijuana.

Dunn wrote in a report that the city's lack of regulation on medical marijuana could allow a dispensary to open that would "conflict with the requirements of the General Plan, be inconsistent with surrounding uses, or be detrimental to the public health, safety and welfare."

Recent inquiries to the city about opening a medical pot shop triggered the city's emergency prohibition.

"Some people might be aware that the person who applied for this kind of business was the same person who had an operation in Corona, and on that license they didn't even indicate they would be selling medical marijuana," said Mayor Daryl Busch. "It brought to light some things we need cover in our ordinances.

"Our public safety is first and foremost. Someone could be held up at one of these facilities for the marijuana. We definitely don't want to encourage criminal activity like that in our city."

Drug Enforcement Administration agents raided and shut down the Healing Nations Collective in Corona on July 17, and the next day raided the Perris Tree of Life Collective, a dispensary that was getting ready to open in Perris. Both operations were run by Ronald Naulls, who was arrested on drug-trafficking charges.

Reach Julissa McKinnon at 951-375-3730 or [email protected]