Murrieta upholds ban on marijuana dispensaries
Friday, September 27th, 2013
Issue 39, Volume 17.
It was Councilman Harry Ramos who dissented.
Since the passage in 1996 of the California Compassionate Use Act, Murrieta has prohibited all forms medical marijuana dispensaries, both fixed and mobile.
Murrieta is the first in the county to ban medical marijuana dispensaries.
In May 2013 the Supreme Court gave legal authority to enact a permanent ban pursuant to its land use authority. This gave Murrieta solid legal ground to ban them, said Robert Mahlowizt, city attorney.
He also said through the land use authority the city has the legal right to keep them out of town.
Because of the ruling, Murrieta pursued to pattern its law after
Riverside’s. It placed the revised ban under the city’s development code, the place where its land use rules are kept.
The earlier prohibition had been under business licenses, which was repealed instantaneously with Tuesday’s action.
Murrieta police Capt. Dennis Vrooman, who helped present the information to the council, urged the members to include a ban on mobile dispensaries.
He said that over the past several months there have been a lot of deliveries and crime, including several robberies.
Vrooman also said through investigations by the police department that they found that those who have medical marijuana dispensary businesses are not checking
medical marijuana cards, identification, and they’re not paying sales tax.
"It’s flat out drug dealing," he said.
Councilwoman Kelly Bennet said there is evidence outthere that medical marijuana does help those people who are in pain, however, she said "it’s against federal law…Federal law supersedes state law when it’s in conflict."
"I am just blown away by the federal government going one way, the other way, and then back again," she said.
Councilman Alan Long said until medical marijuana is able to be regulated and track who is using it or selling it, it is way beyond what any local agency can mitigate on its own.
"Until that happens with medical marijuana dispensaries, there’s a lack of accountability," he said.
The city has no business making a place for dispensaries in Murrieta, he said.
"So until it starts from the top, and we have some guidance and regulation, I don’t see how we can mitigate all these factors," Long said.
As a councilman, Ramos made it known that he was uncomfortable with the topic.
"What is the reason why we don’t want marijuana dispensaries in the city?" he asked, although he said he is not for the legalization of drugs in any form.
Ramos also said he believes that marijuana does help people who are in pain.
"I am not convinced that we cannot come up with a solution to address lot of these concerns of the abuses of the product," he said.
If the federal government changed the law on the substance then the city could, and they could choose it to be in FDA regulated pharmacies, said City Manager Rick Dudley.
Ramos agreed with Dudley.
"Is there a legal alternative?" Ramos asked. "We have one side, always. We’re not looking for the alternative solution."
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