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Santa Monica Extends Ban on Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

Frank Gruber for City Council





Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark

Pico Business Improvement District
7th Annual Pico Festival
Sunday, October 28th

By Jason Islas
Staff Writer

October 25, 2012 -- The Council voted unanimously, and without discussion, to extend a 45-day moratorium on permits allowing medical marijuana dispensaries in Santa Monica.

The ban, which the Council voted to extend for 10 months past its November 5 expiration date, would prevent any permits or land use entitlements for people looking to open up medical marijuana dispensaries in the city.

“This is about waiting for the Supreme Court to settle some law. At least I can hope, that with a little bit of time that the law will become clearer and every city's rights are better understood,” said Mayor Richard Bloom.

“I think most people have recognized that there are health benefits to some folks to using medical marijuana,” he said, but added that the issues is complicated.

“I think the discussion in Santa Monica is a little piece of a much bigger discussion that we've been avoiding for a long time because it's controversial and it's complicated and we have put ourselves in conflict with the Federal government as a state,” he said.

Council member Bob Holbrook, who has been an opponent of allowing medical marijuana dispensaries, agrees.

“There are a lot of cases in the courts right now and the California courts are going to lend some clarity to this,” he said. “The dilemma is making sure that those who are in genuinely in need of medical marijuana are able to obtain it.”

“The vast majority don't really need it,” he said. “They can walk in there with any reason” and get a prescription.

Holbrook said that he has empathy for people who genuinely need medical marijuana, but he said that in order to get a prescription, someone doesn't need to have a serious medical condition.

He added that he didn't want to see people staggering around, publicly intoxicated.

“We need to make sure the system works,” he said.

The moratorium was presented to the Council originally at its October 2 reading because “because the City has received inquiries about opening dispensaries and related businesses in Santa Monica.”

At that meeting, when the moratorium was first adopted unanimously, Council member Kevin McKeown made a point of saying that the period of time should be used to figure out how to make dispensaries work functionally in Santa Monica, pointing out the Los Angeles had made a mess of their ordinance by “being so indecisive.”

“I think most people would acknowledge that the system is a farce (in its current state), except for those people who really need it. For them it's a serious business,” said Bloom.

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