Monday, February 8, 2010

City needs decision on pot

On Jan. 24 the Daily Pilot broke the story on nine Costa Mesa businesses
acting as medical marijuana dispensaries — despite a city ban on the
distribution of cannabis for medicinal use. These businesses have
camouflaged their pot-selling operations by broadly defining their
services or products on city forms.

The Costa Mesa Police Department acknowledges that the businesses are
operating in violation of a 2005 ordinance prohibiting the dispensaries.
But, city officials say, enforcing the ban would be no clear-cut task.
City Atty. Kim Barlow points out that the ordinance would be legally
hazy to enforce because the businesses in question are doing both lawful
and unlawful business.

"There's nothing to stop a place that says it's a vitamin
shop from opening up," Police Chief Chris Shawkey told the Pilot.

Orange County Collective Services, for one, states on its business
license that it's in the business of answering telephones for an
appliance repair shop.

"I don't have marijuana here. I have medicine," proclaimed
John "Dreaming Hawk" Barona, a manager there.

He insisted the business is a cooperative, not a dispensary.

City officials say they're now figuring out what to do about the
marijuana-based shops, whatever their form, and will have a plan in
place soon. However, another complicating factor is that the Costa Mesa
ordinance could face a court challenge.

They'll need to keep Proposition 215 in mind, the 1996 ballot
measure approved by California voters that decriminalized the
distribution and sale of marijuana for medical purposes.

Regardless of what you think of Proposition 215, this dallying is

Either provide the resources to enforce the ordinance or get it off the
books. Our law enforcement and other city officials have enough to do
without the burden of this unfunded mandate.

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