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Ban On Pot Clubs Grows

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The Rosemead City Council has adopted a temporary ban on medical marijuana clubs, joining the growing ranks of cities with prohibitions against the establishments.

The moratorium, which received unanimous council support, temporarily prevents marijuana dispensaries from operating within city limits, officials said.

The city now has less than a month to decide whether to extend the moratorium for another 10 months. After that period, the council will vote on a permanent policy, city officials said.

Many cities have been waiting for state and federal laws to reconcile differences, said Rosemead City Manager Andrew Lazzaretto.

In the meantime, Lazzaretto said the city decided to be "pro-active."

"A lot of cities were waiting for the laws to straighten out," Rosemead City Manager Andrew Lazzaretto said. "It is better to get out in front of the issue."

California voters in 1996 passed a proposition that allows those who demonstrated a medical need for marijuana the legal authority to obtain and use it. In 2003, the state Legislature enacted a program that authorizes the distribution of cannabis to qualified patients.

But the state law appeared to contradict a 2005 United States Supreme Court ruling that held the federal Controlled Substance Act prohibits any person from possessing or using marijuana.

Prior to the passing of the moratorium, the city did not have an ordinance prohibiting or limiting marijuana dispensaries, said Oliver Chi, deputy city manager.

Many cities, such as Azusa, Glendora, El Monte, Monterey Park and Monrovia, have passed temporary bans.

Don Duncan, Southern California coordinator of Americans for Safe Access, an Oakland-based medical marijuana advocacy group, said that it is too early to decide whether the increased numbers of cities passing moratoriums will benefit cannabis dispensaries.

"The moratoriums themselves are not a problem if they serve as stepping stones to regulations," Duncan said. "What is a problem is if they are being used as a stalling tactic."

Duncan said he hopes the moratoriums will lead to regulations, such as requiring security guards, limiting use near sensitive facilities, such as schools, and limiting hours of operation.

He added that it is important the dispensaries are given a fair shake.

"It is most important that they exist for the people that need it, and that they are given a safe and reliable place to get it," Duncan said.

Source: San Gabriel Valley Tribune (CA)
Copyright: 2007 San Gabriel Valley Tribune
Contact: http://www.sgvtribune.com/writealetter
Website: San Gabriel Valley Tribune: Local News, Sports, Things To Do
 
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