Monday, June 27, 2011

Dispensary Ban in Glendale

CITY HALL - The City Council today will consider permanently banning
marijuana dispensaries in Glendale after spending nearly two years
vetting their legal standing to do so.

Medical marijuana dispensaries are prohibited under the city's zoning
codes, but the City Council in 2009 adopted a moratorium to
completely close Glendale's borders to the shops so city attorneys
could review the legal issues associated with an all-out ban.

But that moratorium is set to expire in September and officials can
no longer extend it, prompting city attorneys and police to recommend
enacting a citywide ban similar to those in dozens of cities across
the state.

There are no dispensaries within Glendale city limits, but city
officials have said interest has increased in recent years. Glendale
is also a virtual island in the Greater Los Angeles area. In 2007,
187 pot dispensaries registered to continue operating when the Los
Angeles City Council approved a moratorium.

Glendale officials had been hoping that a decision by a state
appellate court regarding Anaheim's ban on marijuana dispensaries
would provide firm legal precedent. Instead, the 4th District Court
of Appeal in Santa Ana sent a legal challenge of the city's ban back
to a lower court for further review.

Still, city attorneys say they are confident a ban in Glendale would
be on solid legal footing.

"We know that the legal landscape is continuing to evolve; however,
review of the cases to date help support the recommendation that we
are making," said Carmen Merino, general counsel for the Police

In cities where dispensaries have been established, law enforcement
agencies have reported increased burglaries, vandalism, illegal drug
sales and other criminal behaviors, according to a report to the
California Chiefs of Police Assn.

"It is a collective opinion that this is not good for our community,"
said city spokesman Tom Lorenz. "It is a quality-of-life issue."

Advocates of medical marijuana, meanwhile, continue to challenge
outright bans as being counter to state law.

"It's illegal under state law to ban outright this kind of activity,"
said Kris Hermes, a spokesman for the medical marijuana advocacy
group Americans for Safe Access. "Local governments should feel an
obligation to address the needs of patients in their community and be
able to regulate activity that is shown to be lawful under state law."

Hermes also disputed assertions that pot dispensaries contribute to
crime, citing interviews with public safety officials in cities where
the shops are regulated that show the opposite.

"These are public officials that are talking to us on the record.
They've found that crime actually decreases around these facilities,"
he said.


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