Tuesday, July 13, 2010

County, city wait on courts, election to decide medical marijuana issue

BARSTOW • The county will continue to prohibit new medical marijuana dispensaries in unincorporated areas for another year. Dispensaries likely won’t be allowed within city limits for another 10 months either.

City officials will recommend extending Barstow’s current dispensary moratorium another 10 or 12 months when the Council revisits the issue next month, said Ron Rector, Barstow’s community and economic development director. The San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to extend the county’s moratorium on dispensaries for another year.

City and county officials are waiting on the outcome of several lawsuits against cities like Los Angeles and Anaheim by medical marijuana advocates before deciding if dispensaries should be allowed at all.

Officials are also waiting on a November ballot initiative to legalize and tax marijuana. If the initiative passes, officials will still have to deal with zoning issues, county spokesman, David Wert said.

“The community has concerns about that the way they would have concerns about a liquor store,” he said.

Barstow established a 45-day moratorium last August, mirroring the county, which suspended the issuing of permits to medical marijuana dispensaries for 45 days last June. After the county extended that moratorium another 10 months and 15 days in August, Barstow followed suit the following month.

When the Council established the moratorium last year, City Planner Mike Massimini had said the city had received inquiries about medical marijuana dispensaries and needed time to research community impacts. Now, until the city won’t take action until they know what the law is, Rector said.

“We’re not going to move into findings until we really understand what the rules are,” he said, adding that the city hasn’t had any more inquiries about marijuana dispensaries. “Once the rules are put in place by the courts, then we’ll know what they are and move forward to build our medical marijuana ordinance.”

Staff at a Yucca Valley clinic that provides two Barstow area clients with medical marijuana is also waiting to see what the rules will be. According to D.J. Ross, executive director for California Alternative Medical Solutions, he is waiting on the outcome of the Anaheim case.

“That (case) will affect the ability of cities and counties to enact a ban,” he said. “Yucca Valley on Tuesday (discussed) an outright ban within town limits, which would affect us, but we’re not going to close any time soon.”

When it comes to zoning concerns, Ross said the clinic he works for is located in a plaza with a karate school and a ballet school next door. California Alternative Medical Solutions sits 3,000 feet away from a school, and the nearest home is 500 to 700 feet away, he said.

Contact the writer:
(760) 256-4123 or jcejnar@desertdispatch.com

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