Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Westlake Village bans medical pot dispensaries

Although California passed Proposition 215 in 1996 decriminalizing the use of medical marijuana, many local cities passed ordinances outlawing cannabis clubs in support of the federal government’s anti-drug stance.

Westlake Village received inquiries from business people seeking to establish marijuana clinics in the city. In 2009, the city shut down a medical marijuana business that had opened at a La Baya Drive commercial center without permission.

Officials passed a subsequent moratoriums to evaluate the impacts of dispensary bans in other jurisdictions. They also wanted to wait for the results of a 2010 state initiative that would have legalized the use of marijuana before implementing their own prohibition.

Since the initiative failed at the polls last November, a city land use committee recommended that Westlake Village enact its own ordinance to prohibit marijuana distribution facilities throughout the city. Agoura Hills has a similar ordinance banning pot dispensaries. The Westlake Village law includes the sale of synthetic marijuana products.

Before voting, Mayor Ned Davis expressed some concerns about the proposed ban because, he said, it would forbid distribution of cannabis in pharmacies and medical offices even if the state allowed those operations in the future.

Medical marijuana should be available only to patients who truly need it, Davis said, adding, “The way California allows marijuana distribution is blatantly wrong. It just doesn’t work.”

Councilmember Mark Rutherford urged Sacramento legislators to solve the problems associated with Prop. 219. “All the city is doing is trying to work with the uncertainty in the law,” he said.

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