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Another California city wants to snuff out medical marijuana dispensaries

By Hempology | June 29, 2007

San Bernardino Sun, CA
27 Jun 2007
Andrew Edwards


YUCAIPA – Another inland town moved closer to snuffing out medicinal marijuana Monday when the City Council approved staffers’ plans to craft an ordinance prohibiting medical cannabis dispensaries.

Yucaipa’s not the only East Valley city addressing the marijuana issue this week. In Redlands on Tuesday the Planning Commission voted unanimously to pass along a recommendation to the City Council to put an anti-cannabis law on the books.

California cities face a contradiction between state and federal laws governing marijuana. The state’s voters cast ballots to allow the use of medical cannabis when they passed Proposition 215 in 1996, but Uncle Sam has since maintained federal policy that classifies marijuana as an illegal, controlled substance.

John McMains, Yucaipa’s community development director, recommended that Yucaipa adopt a policy that would require dispensaries to comply with both federal and state laws regarding medicinal marijuana, basically meaning that dispensaries could only be allowed in the city if federal law changes.

A new law “would effectively eliminate the establishment of medical marijuana facilities in the community,” McMains told council members.

The council voted 4-0 to authorize staffers to craft a new law containing McMains’ proposal. Mayor Dick Riddell was not at the meeting.

Councilwoman Denise Hoyt suggested at Monday’s meeting that if federal medical marijuana law ever changes, cannabis would likely be given to patients at pharmacies, thus eliminating any need for the marijuana-specific dispensaries.

“That’s where it belongs,” she said.

The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the federal government’s power to enforce its marijuana laws despite state laws such as those in California. However, the court has never struck down Proposition 215.

Redlands Community Development Director Jeff Shaw said in a phone message that federal prohibitions against medical marijuana are a key reason officials in that city are also moving against dispensaries.

Medical cannabis advocates say the drug can be beneficial for patients with cancer and other serious diseases. The Drug Enforcement Administration argues that drug traffickers use California’s medical marijuana law as a shield for law-breaking.

San Bernardino County cities Ontario, Grand Terrace, Upland and Montclair have banned marijuana dispensaries. Fontana planning commissioners recommended a ban earlier this month.

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