Thursday, January 14, 2010

La Puente sets new rules for its dispensaries.

LA PUENTE - La Puente will allow more marijuana dispensaries than any
city in the San Gabriel Valley, according to a law passed Tuesday.

The City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved an ordinance that caps
the number of medical marijuana dispensaries at six.

The law was La Puente's first step to reign in medical marijuana

At least two dispensaries opened last year, but the city had no law in
place to specifically regulate marijuana sales, officials said.

"It was absolutely necessary to put restrictions on these businesses,"
said Councilman Dan Holloway. "Although I wish we had done it a year

The new law includes a number of strict regulations, which officials
said are a happy medium between both sides of the marijuana issue.

Most cities with laws regulating marijuana dispensaries allow just one
or two shops.

From September to December 2009, five business licenses for medical
marijuana dispensaries were approved in La Puente and one application
was pending - the reason why the city approved the dispensary cap at
six. City Manager Josi Kenline did not return four calls seeking
information about how many of the dispensaries have opened.

In La Puente, dispensaries can operate from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and a
security guard - who can be armed - must patrol the area surrounding the

"I don't believe that the City Council is against these types of
businesses as long as they are run properly and adhere to the
restrictions," said Mayor Louie Lujan.

La Puente formerly had a dispensary moratorium in place, but the law
lapsed without extension in September 2008. A proposal for an outright
ban failed in August 2008.

The first shop was the La Puente Medical Cannabis Center, which opened
in late November near Glendora Avenue and Hacienda Boulevard.

A second shop, opened in late December, decided to close its doors after
city building inspectors found code violations, Lujan said.

La Puente dispensaries will still have to deal with Los Angeles County
District Attorney Steve Cooley, who said in November that he would
prosecute medical marijuana shops - even those protected by city

Lujan, who failed to support the permanent ban on dispensaries in 2008,
said his support had nothing to do with a political action committee led
by prominent medical-marijuana advocates, including his brother Philip

The committee, named "Coalition for a Safe and Clean Environment," paid
$4,025 in mailers and money to council members Holloway, Lujan and Nadia
Mendoza, campaign finance records show.

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