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City Bans Pot Clinics

Rocky Balboa

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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.

Fuentes said the city decided to act early because of problems they experienced with Imperial Showgirls, a strip club that won its right to stay in the city in 2002 after Pico Rivera challenged their presence in court.

Source: Whittier Daily News
Author: Airan Scruby, Staff Writer
Copyright: 2008 Los Angeles Newspaper Group
Website: Whittier Daily News - Home
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They justify ignoring state laws since Marijuana is illegal according to federal law. The laws of the states are superceded by Federal laws. This may explain it better than I can:

Federal law is, by virtue of the constitution, the "law of the land," meaning that it supersedes in every instance where they may pass laws covering the same issue. On things like minimum wage, it's not really an issue of superseding; if federal law says it must be $5.15 or more, and state law says it must be $7.50 or more, the state law is within the requirements of the federal law. If the state law were less than $5.15, the federal law would supersede it, because it would not be within the federal law's requirements." When does state law supercede Federal law?

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