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News, City Council, Health, Santa Monica

Moratorium On Santa Monica Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Extended

Santa Monica City Council members are divided over whether medical marijuana dispensaries should be permitted in Santa Monica.
Santa Monica City Council members are divided over whether medical marijuana dispensaries should be permitted in Santa Monica.

Posted Aug. 16, 2013, 9:18 am

Parimal M. Rohit / Staff Writer

Santa Monica might not see a medical marijuana dispensary within city limits for at least one more year based upon a moratorium Council members extended Tuesday.

However, four of seven Council members supported a separate direction for City staff to bring back to council a proposal paving the way for medical marijuana dispensaries to exist after the City’s new zoning ordinance is approved in December.

Proposed by Council member Kevin McKeown and supported by Council members Gleam Davis, Ted Winterer, and Tony Vazquez, the council might consider a proposed law allowing medical marijuana dispensaries in Santa Monica as early as January but likely at some point in early 2014.

Between now and then, Council members would have to make sure the new zoning ordinance, which is on par to be enacted later this year, has specific language in it to either allow medical marijuana facilities to safely and responsibly operate within Santa Monica or be banned entirely.

With approved staff direction in place, council members such as McKeown hope a proposed ordinance outlining zoning language to allow the responsible operation of medical marijuana dispensaries would come to the dais once new zoning laws are enacted but well before the now current one-year moratorium expires.

However, as long as the Interim Zoning Ordinance is in place, the moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries that council members initially approved in October 2012 will continue to remain in effect.

If the one-year extension were not approved, the moratorium would have lifted Oct. 1.

The two votes – one to approve the staff direction and the other to approve the one-year moratorium extension – did not come without a testy moment and some stern words from the dais.

During public testimony, one Santa Monica resident did not heed the time limitation while at the podium. Defiantly continuing on with his commentary well after Mayor Pam O’Connor instructed him his time was up, the microphone was muted. Still continuing his commentary, O’Connor called for a 10-minute break and all the council members walked away from the dais until they were allowed to resume the matter.

When the council returned to the dais, Council member Bob Holbrook made clear he was in full support of extending the moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries but would not vote in favor of any ordinance allowing such venues to exist in Santa Monica.

Pointing out medical marijuana is available “less than a city block” away from Santa Monica, Holbrook said allowing dispensaries here would be “problematic for Santa Monica.”

“I think it is a readily available substance. It has been problematic in other cities,” said Holbrook, who has a PhD and is a pharmacist by profession said.

Holbrook added he personally knew people whose lives “had been ruined by this medical marijuana.”

Conversely, McKeown pointed out everyone on the dais had a colleague – former Los Angeles Council member Bill Rosendahl – who recently relied upon medical marijuana to battle cancer.

Resident Ian James Johnston said medical marijuana dispensaries should exist in Santa Monica.

“The idea that you should have to go out of town to get medicine that is legal under state law is absolutely preposterous,” he told Council members. “People are saying this should be regulated. I agree. The regulation you should allow is the absolute minimum.

“We’re talking about a drug here that has numerous beneficial medical applications [and] never has killed anyone,” he added.

The staff direction approved Aug. 13 does not ensure medical marijuana dispensaries will become a reality after the new zoning law is approved. When City staff returns to the dais with a proposed ordinance for medical marijuana dispensaries to possibly exist within Santa Monica, council members will engage in a full debate and vote to determine the merits of the new law at that time.

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Aug. 16, 2013, 10:47:46 am

Jerry McCutcheon said...

Postponing the permitting of legal marijuana store was a wise decision. It has just brought problems to Anchorage where we had none before even though marijuana has been legal for decades in Alaska.

Aug. 16, 2013, 11:00:43 am

Marshall said...

Oh it's never killed anyone? I guess she's not including the many impaired drivers that cause fatal accidents under the influence of pot. Medicial MJ helps only a few and causes far more problems than benefits. It should never be allowed in santa monica.

Aug. 17, 2013, 8:49:51 am

JF said...

Please site a traffic fatality where marijuana , of and by itself, was the cause.

Aug. 17, 2013, 8:55:53 am

JF said...

We the people of Los Angeles county have voted for the regulation of pre-icos, yet all that is seen, are new dispensaries popping up with 0 regulation. Our city council does not defend the law, which was voted and enacted by us.

Aug. 18, 2013, 12:08:46 pm

Not welcome said...

All I hear is a bunch of right wingers puking talking points here. Absolutely devoid of any facts. Just dinosaurs roaring about things they don't understand in a world that has passed them by. Can't wait until your funerals so we can progress as a society.

Aug. 27, 2013, 2:42:49 pm

Another WorldView said...

Jerry M.'s assertion appears to be as unsupported as it is baseless. What problems are you referring to ??? Hurt feelings in the US Atty's office? I'm sure that any problems in Anchorage (related to a dispensary) were pre-existing. Studies (RAND, UCLA) have shown that crime actually goes DOWN, around dispensaries, not up. As for "Marshall" -(t) HE (speaker) doesn't include auto accidents, because cars and drivers cause those - not MEDICAL Marijuana; or Alcohol, Opiates (whether or not lawfully prescribed), or even OTC Cough syrups - which may also impair driving. All of the above (except MMJ) are readily available in SM; and impaired driving is already against the law. And "Marshall" also sounds badly dis-informed about the medical applications and benefits of Cannabis. Prior to the Food and Drug act - it was the most prescribed medicine in the USA. It was discovered by Dr. William B. O'Shaughnessy M.D., who began using it in his practice in December, 1838. For anyone who's less willfully ignorant than "Marshall", here are some links to better inform on the subject of MMJ, past and present. I'm sure that what the speaker was referring to about no deaths was the lack of a fatal dose for MMJ - and the fact that hundreds die every year from medicines like Aspirin and Tylenol - both of which are generally perceived as benign, and are available in SM without any extra regulations needed, or even a recommendation from a Doctor. As for JF - please note that MMJ was legalized in CA by the people of the State - not the Government. The LA city proposition was successful in a election with about a 20% turnout, during an off-year, which tends to skew towards older more conservative (fascistic?) voters - like "Marshall". Adding to the problem was the impression that the City was going to ban MMJ dispensaries anyway, if one or more of the propositions didn't pass (though we saw what happened when they tried that initially - the voters rose up and invalidated their effort with a petition drive). But the pre-ICO dispensaries are theoretically ensured a monopoly under that proposition, and hence they and their allies (the UFCW union) both got behind a bad law. IMHO opinion it needs to be appealed or amended greatly. Perhaps that will happen the next time we have an on-year election, where young people will come out. In the meantime they lack the enforcement capability to carry out their "law". It is poorly thought-out and needlessly invidious discriminatory and prohibitive (and was backed by the council who wanted to ban ALL dispensaries, entirely - following the will of their Democratic party/Police- Intelligence State masters, back in D.C.; and where, ironically enough, MMJ is also now legal). Good looking out "Not Welcome" - needless to say, I concur entirely.

Aug. 27, 2013, 2:58:10 pm

Another WorldView said...

Also, a note to the writer. the speaker quoted above identified himself as a "people of California" and a said that he "domiciled" in Ocean Park. While in some common usages the terms "resident" and "domicile" may be synonymous - in legal nomenclature there is a distinction. In California, "residents" are technically (legal) "aliens", where a domicile or people of California is a "native" and entitled to common law rights under the State Constitution of 1849. Residents are technically citizens of Washington D.C. or some other territory conquered or acquired by the US Government, which is an (absolute) legislative democracy (in theory). The people of California by contrast live in a Republic, and are considered "sovereign" according tot he State Constitution and Government Code currently in use by the so-called STATE OF CALIFORNIA. Look at the etymology of the words, too. Res = "thing", ident = identified. People are not "things" (meaning property). Historically, at least going back to the time of Hammurabi, the innate power of the sovereign was to assign things names and numbers - by which his ownership was established. In theory, at least, it is the people of California who own and created the STATE OF CALIFORNIA - not the other way around.

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