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Pico Rivera Woman Wants To Open Medical Marijuana Dispensary in Whittier


Nug of the Month: Aug 2008
A Pico Rivera woman wants to open a medical marijuana dispensary here and has applied to the city for a conditional-use permit.

Dolores Enriquez wants to open the dispensary at 8116 Byron Road, No. D. City planning staff has 30 days to determine if her application is complete and then set it for a hearing.

Enriquez, her son, Robert Ortiz, and friend Sandra Newby formed a nonprofit group, Seventh and Hope, to operate the business.

"They see the need and they want to fill it," said Katherine Clifton, attorney for Enriquez. "They know people with AIDS, cancer and glaucoma."

Clifton said they selected Whittier because it has an ordinance allowing medical marijuana dispensaries in certain areas of the city and didn't already have one.

"There are sick people who have to drive up and down the state to get the medical care they need and their doctors have recommended," he said.

The Whittier City Council in December of 2005 on a 3-2 vote approved an ordinance regulating such establishments.

It also limited them to industrial areas that are at least 1,000 feet away from schools or in essence to a small area south of Washington Boulevard and west of Lambert Road.

There was a dispensary previously in Whittier in the Washington-Whittier Medical Center that was forced to vacate because it was not in the area the city allows for such uses.

California voters in 1996 approved Proposition 215 allowing marijuana to be used for medical purposes. Marijuana use remains illegal under federal law.

And the latter is why Enriquez's proposal could run into problems with the City Council. Councilwoman Cathy Warner has asked for a review of the city's existing ordinance.

Warner was one of the two votes - Councilman Owen Newcomer was the other - against it at the time.

"I think with our new member (Mayor Joe Vinatieri) on the council, it's appropriate to review it," Warner said.

"My preference from the outset was not to support the ordinance because federal law (which outlaws the use of marijuana) supersedes state law," she said.

"We're out of compliance with federal law," she said. "My intent is to give this another look and see if there would be three council members that would be in support of federal law."

Warner said she hasn't changed her opinion even in the light of the announcement by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder that federal agents will target marijuana distributors only when they violate both federal and state laws.

"It's a matter of opinion," she said of Holder's announcement. "I think this is (still) illegal."

But it may not matter what the council does.

If the application is deemed complete, any council-approved ban of medical marijuana dispensaries would have no effect on it, said Jeff Collier, director of community development.

The council can't ban something that's already in place, Collier said.

News Hawk- Ganjarden 420 MAGAZINE ® - Medical Marijuana Publication & Social Networking
Source: Whittier Daily News
Author: Mike Sprague
Contact: Whittier Daily News
Copyright: 2009 Los Angeles Newspaper group
Website: Pico Rivera Woman Wants To Open Medical Marijuana Dispensary in Whittier
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