Monday, May 11, 2009

Oceanside to consider marijuana moritorium

Saturday, May 9, 2009 5:07 PM PDT ƒ

Oceanside may impose a temporary ban on medical
marijuana dispensaries until city officials
decide how to regulate them.

The City Council will consider an "urgency
ordinance" Wednesday that would immediately
prohibit dispensaries from opening and operating.

The moratorium would last 45 days, with optional
extensions of nearly two years.

George Buell, Oceanside's development services
director, said nobody has applied to open a
dispensary, but "there have been inquiries," and
a moratorium would "provide us an opportunity to
study the issue."

There are no storefront dispensaries in the city.

California voters passed a medical marijuana law,
Prop. 215, more than 12 years ago.

While the federal government prohibits pot, the
Obama administration announced this year that it
would halt federal raids on dispensaries
established under state law.

Even so, cities and counties vary in their attitudes toward medical cannabis.

About 30 California cities have regulations that
allow dispensaries, according to Americans for
Safe Access, a medical cannabis advocacy group.

More than 110 ---- including San Marcos, Murrieta and Temecula ---- have bans.

Kris Hermes, spokesman for Americans for Safe
Access, said a moratorium is "not necessarily a
bad thing" if Oceanside is working in good faith
on regulations.

But "if they institute a temporary moratorium to
eventually ban the conduct outright in the city
of Oceanside, then I would say they're taking the
wrong approach," Hermes said.

In a report to the council, City Planner Juliana
von Hacht said marijuana dispensaries pose a
"threat to public health, safety and welfare,"
since the city has no rules to govern them. She
said they've been linked to increased crime,
traffic and noise.

David Blair-Loy, legal director with the San
Diego chapter of the American Civil Liberties
Union, worried that the city's definition of
"dispensary" was so broad it could affect "a
single caregiver providing medical marijuana to a
single patient in the privacy of the home."

Adoption of the moratorium requires a four-fifths vote.

The council meets at 5 p.m. Wednesday at City Hall, 300 N. Coast Highway.

Contact staff writer Craig TenBroeck at (760) 901-4062.

No comments: