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City Bans Pot Clinics


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PICO RIVERA - City Council members faced no opposition at Tuesday's meeting when they approved an ordinance banning medicinal marijuana dispensaries in the city. The permanent ban comes two years after an initial freeze on dispensaries, which was meant to allow city staff time to assess the effects of the establishments on the community.

"This one would be prohibition," City Attorney Arnold Alvarez-Glasman said. "The federal law is quite clear that the use of marijuana is prohibited."

Medicinal marijuana dispensaries were approved in California by Proposition 215, or the Compassionate Use Act, which states that seriously ill residents of California have access to marijuana to manage pain and increase appetite. However, federal law states that the use of marijuana is illegal, and conflict between the two is still being resolved in the courts.

More than 50 other cities and six counties in California have instituted some ban on the dispensaries, whether temporary or permanent, according to city staff reports.

"We do want to weigh in, to the extent that we're saying we don't want that in our community," City Manager Chuck Fuentes said. Fuentes said the action taken by the City Council was an effort to preempt any dispensaries that might set up shop in the city. He said the city began considering the ban because of trouble in Whittier over the same issue.

Officials in Whittier were considering a ban when the Whittier Collective set up shop in 2005. The clinic was eventually evicted at the end of last year, after its landlord, the Phelan Family Trust, received a letter from the U.S. Department of Justice threatening jail time and loss of property for renting to a medical marijuana clinic.

Fuentes said the city also received informal calls about how a dispensary could be set up in Pico Rivera. "I think we got two or three calls," Fuentes said. "Rather than wait for the inevitable, we decided to take prudent action in getting an ordinance drafted."

Alvarez-Glasman said in the event that marijuana use was legalized at the federal level, the city would consider striking down the ordinance. "We would revisit this if a definitive ruling came out," Alvarez-Glasman said.

Source: Whittier Daily News (CA)
Copyright: 2008 Los Angeles Newspaper Group
Contact: Whittier Daily News - Write a Letter
Website: Whittier Daily News - Home
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