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Santa Monica City Council approved an interim ordinance to place into a holding pattern the issuing of business licenses, entitlements, or permits to companies seeking to issue marijuana for medicinal purposes.
Santa Monica City Council approved an interim ordinance to place into a holding pattern the issuing of business licenses, entitlements, or permits to companies seeking to issue marijuana for medicinal purposes.

News, City Council, Health, Santa Monica

45-Day Moratorium Placed On Santa Monica Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

Posted Oct. 5, 2012, 2:40 am

Parimal M. Rohit / Staff Writer

A 45-day moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries was officially put into effect Tuesday after the Santa Monica City Council approved an interim ordinance to place into a holding pattern the issuing of business licenses, entitlements, or permits to companies seeking to issue the substance for medicinal purposes.

Council members unanimously approved the moratorium with the intention of determining how Santa Monica could possibly have medical marijuana dispensaries within city limits once the 45-day suspension comes to an end.

City staff recommended the moratorium due to a recent wave of inquiries received from entities seeking to open a medical marijuana dispensary in Santa Monica.

“The City’s Zoning Ordinance currently does not contain regulations governing the establishment, location, and operation of medical marijuana collectives. And, the law governing the City’s authority to adopt and enforce such regulations is, for the time being, extremely uncertain,” city staff said in its report to council members. “The present uncertainty results from both a lack of clarity in state law and a conflict between state and federal law.”

In 1996, California voters approved Proposition 215, which allowed for certain individuals to receive medical marijuana “for specified medical purposes.” However, city staff added implementation has not been easy due to legal hurdles and unintended consequences.

“Some California cities that initially authorized dispensaries later experienced significant detrimental secondary impacts associated with them and their proliferation,” city staff said. “Moreover, although state law allows for the provision of medical marijuana, federal law continues to prohibit cultivating, distributing, and dispensing marijuana. This conflict in the law has yielded conflicting state appellate court decisions on the issue of municipal authority to regulate dispensaries – an issue which the California Supreme Court has accepted for review.

“Meanwhile, federal prosecutors have challenged the authority of California cities and counties to enact land use controls regulating medical marijuana dispensaries.”

Council member Kevin McKeown said he hoped City Hall would take the time to seriously consider how to “responsibly have functional marijuana dispensaries in our city.”

“It’s 2012 and I think we need to honestly look at the failed drug policies of this country,” he said. “And the fact that many of the problems other cities have had with dispensaries are not because of something inherently dangerous about the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes, but because they have to operate in a context where there is such conflict between federal law, state law, and local practice.”

McKeown added he hoped City Hall would take advantage of the moratorium to come up with a substantive plan to allow medical marijuana dispensaries within Santa Monica.

“I hope if we pass this moratorium, it would be with the intent to really investigate the issues and be decisive. It’s not the sixties, it’s not the seventies, it’s 2012,” he said. “Yes, there are challenges here. Yes, it probably does make sense for us to wait until courts sort out some of the jurisdictional issues that we can’t really resolve.”

During the 45-day moratorium, the approved interim ordinance allows City Hall an opportunity to: address community concerns about dispensaries; study their potential impacts on the public’s health, safety, and welfare; perform a legal analysis to determine how best to craft land use controls and regulation; and, ensure regulations would be in place so that dispensaries would not “result in harmful effects to the businesses, property owners, and residents of the City.”

McKeown said it would be irresponsible for Santa Monica to not consider having a medical marijuana dispensary within city limits to assist those in need. He provided the example of Los Angeles City Council member Bill Rosendahl, who recently returned to the dais after relying upon medical marijuana to help him in his battle with cancer.

“I disagree that its okay for us in Santa Monica, a population which includes people who use medical marijuana for real pain and real issues in their lives, can just tell those people, ‘well, we know you’re sick and maybe disabled, but you know what, it’s okay for you to drive into West L.A.,’” he said. “There could be a way that we could responsibly find a way to integrate dispensaries into the medical area of town and do them the way they ought to be done.”

Not everyone was thrilled about the interim ordinance.

“This ordinance is unprecedented in its unreasonableness. This ordinance is unlawful and it should be challenged immediately,” Richard McDonald of Golden State Collective said. “Despite all of that, I do want to say that I’d much rather be working constructively with the City. I think we can bring something here that’s extremely fitting and very right and proper.”

Interestingly enough, one speaker put the medical marijuana dispensary issue in perspective by providing anecdotal evidence.

Karen O’Keefe, a West Hollywood resident and Director of State Policies at the Marijuana Policy Project, said the existence of dispensaries in that city have not been a magnet for negative elements.

“I live in West Hollywood, which has had very sensible regulations on dispensaries since 2005,” O’Keefe told council members. “The sky hasn’t fallen. (The dispensaries) have not caused crime, they haven’t caused robberies. In fact, the City requires dispensaries to have security patrols that patrol about a two-block radius.”

City staff said the interim ordinance “can be extended up to 22 months and 15 days based on the requisite findings after additional published notice and hearing.”

Post a comment


Oct. 5, 2012, 3:36:08 am

It failed in LA said...

The city of LA allowed in dispensaries, and it turned into a disaster of organized crime and rampant dealing of recreational drugs to healthy young men; LA has been trying to shut them down ever since. Now they are being chased out of LA they are trying to sneak dispensaries in here. It failed in LA and that should be all you need to know. And there might be anecdotal evidence that all is well in West Hollywood - but that is coming from a pot booster - because there is big money in selling pot.

Oct. 5, 2012, 3:49:12 am

Joshua said...

"(The dispensaries) have not caused crime, they haven’t caused robberies. " O'Keefe is lying and has not a clue. The Farmacy pot shop in West Hollywood just got robbed 3 months ago. She is the director of MPP? Lol.

Oct. 5, 2012, 3:52:57 am

Jenna Linnekens said...

I too spoke on this agenda item and am curious why only the people that spoke in support of the dispensaries were mentioned in this article? Furthermore, I am an active member if this community who also represents other opinions on this issue which I spoke about publically at council that evening. Why was an opposing view not also shared in the body of this article? We are a progressive community. Progressive enough to say NO to this kind of business in our great city. I disagree with Council Member McKeown that we may be undeserving a part of our community by not availing to them dispensaries in Santa Monica proper. The reason is that within a mile or two of the Santa Monica boarder in Venice are multiple dispensaries. So if you are telling me that a mile makes a difference to a person’s well being and health that is an entirely different conversation. This moratorium is smart and the even smarter decision is to just say NO to this kind of business in our city.

Oct. 5, 2012, 4:49:48 am

Jillian Galloway said...

American taxpayers are being forced to pay $40 Billion a year for a prohibition that causes 10,000 brutal murders

Oct. 5, 2012, 4:50:49 am

Jillian Galloway said...

American taxpayers are being forced to pay $40 Billion a year for a prohibition that causes 10,000 brutal murders and 800,000 needless arrests each year, but which doesn't even stop CHILDREN getting marijuana. After seventy-five years of prohibition, it's obvious that the federal marijuana prohibition causes FAR more harm than good and must END! Drug Dealers Don't Card, Supermarkets Do.

Oct. 5, 2012, 6:37:16 am

Small Minds of SM said...

If this is supposedly a "progressive" city with educated people then we would all know that marijuana is in the same line as cigarettes, booze and the little be-happy pills the doctor gives you. People are not going to stop buying and smoking it. They will just be forced to go back to buying from organized crime and I can assure you those criminals will set up shop in a profitable place like Santa Monica. So if you like criminals then you want the dispensaries closed but you are NOT going to stop people from getting their marijuana any more than you stop liquor stores from selling booze. It's here to stay so deal with it responsibly.

Oct. 5, 2012, 6:42:18 am

Nanna Is Sick said...

Ahhh the petty little NIMBYs are out on force. "Not in my backyard" they all say until grandma gets terminal cancer and pot is the only thing that gives her comfort. Well let grandma die in pain because pot is bad. You want to control and regulate every aspect of everyone's lives to suit your narrow view of the world.

Oct. 7, 2012, 4:31:19 am

Jenna said...

This is not about being a "not in my backyard kind of person"..this is about realizing that being an individual or independent city. We don’t have to be a follower AND there are multiple dispensaries within blocks of this city so why more AND...much like the City of Calabasas took a stand and said NO to smoking throughout their ENTIRE city even though other cities allow it....that is what I am talking about...taking a stand and being progressive enough to simply say NO to this industry in our City with no judgment cast to those who need to use it. All they need to do is go a few and I am being literal...a few blocks in either direction and get it.

Oct. 19, 2012, 4:23:05 pm

Marijuana Dispensaries said...

Really informative blog post on Marijuana. Really looking forward to read more. Cool.

Oct. 25, 2012, 4:42:27 pm

medical marijuana in california said...

I was very encouraged to find this site. I wanted to thank you for this special read. I definitely savored every little bit of it and I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you post.

Mar. 12, 2013, 11:18:17 am

OM said...

There is a dispensary, probably in Santa Monica supplying to my 17 yr old son. He claims he has a medical card . this entire "medical marijuana" scam is a complete hoax. I used to be in favor of legalization but now I am one hundred percent against it.

Sep. 30, 2015, 11:09:04 am

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