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The Lompoc City Council voted 4-1 Tuesday to pass a temporary urgency ordinance that bans facilities that sell medicinal marijuana from city limits.
The ordinance lasts up to 45 days and can be extended up to two years. The City Council will vote to end or extend the moratorium at their May 17 meeting.
The moratorium is needed because Lompoc does not currently have zoning restrictions on where a "cannabis club" - or facility that dispenses medicinal marijuana - could be established, city officials said. Without such zoning, a marijuana dispensary could be opened in any location zoned for retail, drug store, commercial enterprises or medical uses.
The urgency ordinance also allows time for the U.S. Supreme Court to rule on California's medical marijuana laws in Ashcroft v. Raich.
The city has thus far received at least two preliminary inquiries regarding business licenses for medicinal marijuana dispensaries, according to a city staff report. City Administrator Gary Keefe said he expects more as other neighboring cities have passed urgency moratorium ordinances, including Paso Robles, Arroyo Grande, Atascadero, San Luis Obispo, Pismo Beach and Grover Beach.
In 1996, California voters approved Proposition 215 which amended the California Controlled Substances Act to legalize the cultivation and possession of marijuana for medicinal use when recommended by a physician.
The State Senate later enacted SB 420 to clarify the scope of Proposition 215. That bill allows local governments to control sites where the substance may be dispensed to patients and their primary caregivers.
Marijuana remains a controlled substance under federal law and persons who act in accordance with Proposition 215 are subject to federal prosecution.
Santa Barbara County began issuing medicinal marijuana identification cards last year, as required by SB 420. So far the county has issued 221 cards to patients or care-givers who are eligible.
Tuesday's report, approved by the council's vote, outlined "secondary" effects resulting from medicinal marijuana dispensaries in other cities. They included increased crime, vagrancy, effect upon property values, blight, disruption of retail trade and increased burden on law enforcement resources.
Police Chief William Brown also concurred with the city on their recommendation to the Council, according to the staff report.
Council member DeWayne Holmdahl and Mayor Dick DeWees said the issue was about complying with federal laws.
"Until a legal determination has been made I don't see any reason to supersede the federal laws," Holmdahl said.
Council member Janice Keller was the lone "no" vote. Keller said the subject was a medical issue and noted that she saw no statistics in the staff report that backed concerns about harmful, secondary effects of medicinal marijuana dispensaries.