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Wildomar Commission Puts Off Vote On Medical Marijuana Ordinance


Nug of the Month: Aug 2008
Dozens of southwest Riverside County medical marijuana advocates were audibly disappointed Wednesday when the Wildomar Planning Commission put off a vote on a law that would allow marijuana dispensaries.

Wildomar would be the second Riverside County city -- Palm Springs was the first, in 2009 -- to pass a law specifically allowing retail outlets that sell medical marijuana to patients.

Many other Inland cities, including Riverside, Hemet, Lake Elsinore and Temecula, along with Riverside and San Bernardino counties, have placed moratoriums on dispensaries or have banned them outright.

Because Wildomar's zoning code now bans dispensaries, the Planning Commission must make a recommendation to the City Council whether it should pass the law. But with commission Chairman Robert Devine absent, the other commissioners decided to hold off on a vote after about an hour of debate.

Several shouts of "do your job" could be heard when commissioner Ben Benoit said he wanted to wait to decide until after November, when California voters will choose whether to legalize marijuana.

Eventually, the commissioners decided to table the issue until their next meeting, on Aug.4.

The City Council chamber, which holds 75, was filled Wednesday. Before the commission voted, 15 people spoke. Five opposed allowing dispensaries.

Burt Goulding said the 2-year-old city of Wildomar didn't want to define itself as a marijuana haven.

"Do we want to be the next Las Vegas or Atlantic City, or do we want to be something better than that?" Goulding said.

Kelly Renee, 32, of Canyon Lake, said she is a mother and a disabled veteran who needs medical marijuana to help with pain. She told the commission that fears about dispensaries bringing in crime -- a common theme among those opposed -- were close-minded and unfounded.

"It upsets me to hear people up here stereotyping me," Renee said.

One reason municipalities have been slow to wade into the business of regulating medical marijuana dispensaries has been the rapidly changing nature of the law.

Many cities are waiting for a state Court of Appeal ruling, expected next month, in a closely watched case challenging Anaheim's ban on dispensaries. And this November's Prop. 19, which would legalize pot in California for people older than 21, could throw many existing marijuana laws into question.

Medical marijuana is legal in California. Patients are allowed to grow their own plants or join a collective of patients who grow and distribute amongst themselves.

Despite the bans in place across the region, dispensaries and marijuana-delivery services abound in the Inland area. Several pro-medical marijuana websites show maps of dozens of locations dotted across Riverside County.

Wildomar's foray into the issue began this spring when the Wildomar Patients Compassionate Group opened what it called a medical marijuana collective.

The city moved quickly to shut down the operation, but dozens of people came to the next City Council meeting to demand Wildomar open its doors to dispensaries.

The council voted 4-1, with Mayor Bridgette Moore dissenting, to consider an ordinance.

NewsHawk: Ganjarden: 420 MAGAZINE
Source: The Press-Enterprise
Author: JOHN F. HILL
Contact: The Press-Enterprise
Copyright: 2010 Press-Enterprise Company
Website: Wildomar commission puts off vote on medical marijuana ordinance

* Thanks to MedicalNeed for submitting this article
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