Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Medical pot advocates urge supes to lift dispensary moratorium

About 30 medical marijuana advocates flooded Board of Supervisors
meeting on Tuesday, demanding that San Bernardino County stop dragging
its feet and lift its moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries.

In June, the supervisors voted unanimously to implement an
identification card program for medical marijuana patients through the
Public Health Department.

The decision came after the county exhausted all of its legal avenues in
trying to block the process. In May, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to
hear a lawsuit filed jointly by San Bernardino and San Diego counties
challenging California's Compassionate Use Act.

The two counties argued that federal law pre-empted the state law, which
allows for the cultivation, use, possession and transport of the plant
per a physician's recommendation.

"Would you mind asking your employees to get together and start doing
what it is they're supposed to do?" Lanny Swerdlow, president of the
Inland Empire chapter of the Marijuana Anti-Prohibition Project, asked
the board.

Swerdlow told the board he has been given the runaround by county staff,
who he said have told him they haven't been able to get together to
discuss the issue.

When the board ratified the measure for the identification card program
in June, it also imposed the one-year moratorium on dispensaries until
the county can update its development code to include provisions for
medical marijuana dispensaries.

Land Use Services Director Dena Smith said her staff has been in talks
with the Sheriff's Department on myriad issues surrounding dispensaries
and does not believe they've been dragging their feet.

She described the situation as "very complex" in terms of meeting the
demands of both medical marijuana proponents and county residents who
don't want to see dispensaries in their neck of the woods.

"It's a balancing act," Smith said.

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