East Edition Herald American

More cities toughen regulations for medicinal marijuana sales

Bellflower, Santa Fe Springs and Whittier have joined surrounding cities in toughening their anti-marijuana dispensary laws to comply with a state deadline of March 1.

Interim Planning Director Rowena Genilo-Concepcion, in a written report to the Bellflower City Council Jan. 11, explained that the state Legislature has approved three bills, which take effect March 1, in which the state takes over regulation and licensing of marijuana dispensaries and doctors.

It’s an effort to impose uniform restrictions on such use, approved by voters in 1996 as the Compassionate Use Act.

Medical marijuana has been used to ease the pain of patients with cancer and other ailments, but most area cities have banned places that sell the drug, saying they are abused and are magnets for crime.

Downey and Norwalk recently approved similar rules.

Under the new state laws, cities may still ban the dispensaries but must conform with state rules, which in most cases include prohibitions against distribution and cultivation. Most area laws only ban the dispensaries and the sale of marijuana.

The change in Bellflower was approved unanimously after a pubic hearing in which no one spoke. It was an urgency ordinance, which took immediate effect.

The Whittier City Council unanimously approved similar new rules Jan. 12.

The city had previously allowed a medical marijuana dispensary in an industrial use area and police reported no major problems. However, that shop is closed because the owner has been convicted of violations elsewhere.

The Santa Fe Springs City Council Jan. 14 covered all the bases with an ordinance banning not only the sale of marijuana and dispensaries but prohibiting cultivation, product labeling, storing, processing, transporting, delivering, cooperatives and testing laboratories in the city.

Both the Santa Fe Springs and Whittier ordinances need a second reading and 30 days to take effect.

The new state laws do allow cities to permit medical marijuana dispensaries with both state and city licensing as well as licensing of doctors. Cities also may tax marijuana sales.