Santa Monica Lookout
Council Approves Temporary Ban on Medical Marijuana Facilities in Santa Monica
By Jason Islas
October 5, 2012 -- The Council adopted a 45-day moratorium on the licenses or permits for medical marijuana dispensaries in Santa Monica Tuesday.
Citing residents' concerns and the confusing legal status of medical marijuana use, City staff asked the Council to adopt an ordinance that would prevent any dispensaries of marijuana from popping up in the next month, with the possibility of extending the moratorium for two years.
“The moratorium is recommended because the City has received inquiries about opening dispensaries and related businesses in Santa Monica;” Staff wrote. “But the City's Zoning Ordinance currently does not contain regulations governing the establishment, location, and operation of medical marijuana collectives.”
Though the Council adopted the ordinance, Council member Kevin McKeown did so with some caveats.
McKeown said he hopes “the moratorium is intended to give us a chance to think about how to appropriately and responsibly make decisions about having marijuana dispensaries in our town.”
Though he acknowledged that the legal status of medical marijuana use is a complicated issue, he was put off by the staff report, which he said was full of “one-sided” documentation.
“Yes, there are challenges here,” he said, specifically referencing the fact that though medical marijuana use is legal in California, smoking marijuana is still against Federal law.
But, he added, “I don't think it's right for us in 2012 to keep our heads in the sand.”
“I don't want to kick it down the road, I want to figure out how to do it right,” he said.
McKeown added to the motion, which passed, that staff look into “how it might be possible to have functional marijuana dispensaries in our City.”
Santa Monica's moratorium comes just as Los Angeles' City Council voted to repeal an ordinance passed in July that banned the storefront sale of medical marijuana.
McKeown said Tuesday that he didn't want Santa Monica to make the same mess that L.A. had with its “indecision.”
“We do intend to look at the issue and come up with a solution,” he said.
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