City Wants to Ban Pot Pharmacies
• Moratorium Now Exists on Opening New Facilities
BY BILL KOENEKER
BY BILL KOENEKER
Malibu city officials will attempt to ban medical marijuana dispensaries by amending the municipality’s code. The planning commission is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the matter on Tuesday, June 3.
The city has dealt with the pot pharmacy issue by calling a moratorium on new facilities. There are several outlets in town. City officials say there are no regulations governing their operation.
Planners have crafted a zone text amendment to the city’s code “to clarify the definitions with the zoning ordinance to exclude medical marijuana dispensaries as permitted uses within any zoning designation within the City of Malibu.”
The medical marijuana facilities are still considered illegal by the federal government and in the last year, the feds have successfully shut down several storefronts.
The pot pharmacies are considered by some to be dangerous establishments that can attract undesirable elements because of the large amounts of cannabis and cash that are kept on the premises.
The city council on June 26, 2006 approved an interim urgency ordinance that established a 45-day moratorium on the establishment of any new medical marijuana dispensaries. The measure was extended on Aug. 21, 2006 and extended again last year.
At the time the moratorium was approved, council members were told the staff was researching the possibility of permit requirements, siting criteria, operational regulations and determining if the operation of the dispensaries could be safe and allowable. However, that appears to have gone up in smoke. Municipal officials were not immediately available for comment.
There are other problems city officials have to deal with, including how to ensure that the dispensary is offering “medicine” from a legal source.
Likewise, there are conflicts between the federal and state laws.
In 1996, state voters enacted Prop 215, allowing individuals to grow and use marijuana for personal medical purposes on a physician’s recommendation. In 2003, the state lawmakers adopted a medical marijuana program. However, the U.S. Supreme Court held that federal laws prevailed, prohibiting the possession of marijuana for personal use.
Federal agencies have repeatedly denounced the state’s attempts to legalize the herb for medical purposes and have repeatedly taken law enforcement action.