Pubdate: Wed, 18 Nov 2009
Source: Tahoe Daily Tribune (South Lake Tahoe, CA)
Copyright: 2009 Swift Communications
Author: Adam Jensen, Tahoe Daily Tribune
Cited: South Lake Tahoe City Council
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal - United States)


South Lake Tahoe Joins the Ranks of 64 Jurisdictions With Moratoriums 
on Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

Three's a crowd when it comes to medical marijuana dispensaries in 
South Lake Tahoe, the City Council decided this week.

The Council voted 4-0 on Tuesday to enact a 45-day moratorium on the 
establishment of new dispensaries within city limits. Councilman 
Bruce Grego did not attend Tuesday's meeting.

The moratorium will give the city time to develop permanent 
ordinances regulating the distribution of medical marijuana, said 
City Attorney Patrick Enright in a Nov. 17 staff report to the City Council.

Three medical marijuana dispensaries -- Patient to Patient 
Collective, Tahoe Wellness Collective and City of Angels 2 -- began 
operating in South Lake Tahoe during the past year.

Representatives of the dispensaries have been supportive of the 
moratorium and have signaled their intention to work with the city to 
develop permanent regulations.

"I think its a good decision," said Gino DiMatteo, the owner of City 
of Angles 2, outside Tuesday's meeting. "What everyone needs to 
understand is (providing medical marijuana) is a privilege, not a right."

Strict regulation of medical marijuana distribution will ultimately 
ensure the safety of providers, patients and the public, DiMatteo said.

In backing the moratorium, the City Council approved several interim 
requirements for the existing dispensaries that will allow them to 
keep operating.

To be exempt from the moratorium, a dispensary will need to have a 
city business license, a California State Board of Equalization 
seller's permit, a commercial or business insurance policy, evidence 
to show the dispensary was in operation prior to Nov. 1 and attest to 
being in compliance with the California Attorney General's November 
2008 guidelines about lawful operation of marijuana collectives by 
Dec. 4. The existing dispensaries also must provide a rental or lease 
agreement for, or show ownership of, the location where they operate 
by that date.

At Tuesday's meeting, the council denied a request by South Shore 
resident Brian Spencer to extend the Nov. 1 deadline to Nov. 15 so a 
medical marijuana delivery service he started within the past two 
weeks could gain an exemption to the moratorium.

The council voted against extending the deadline, but Mayor Jerry 
Birdwell assured Spencer that he would be able to discuss how a 
delivery service should work as the city goes through the process of 
developing permanent regulations surrounding medical marijuana.

The council will likely extend the moratorium by 10 and a half months 
at the City Council's Dec. 8 meeting.

The South Lake Tahoe moratorium comes at a time when municipalities 
throughout California are contemplating exactly how to regulate 
medical marijuana, which was legalized by voters in 1996, at a local level.

Sixty-four jurisdictions have moratoriums regarding the establishment 
of medical marijuana dispensaries, 29 have prohibited dispensaries 
and 25 have enacted measures to regulate dispensaries, Enright said 
in a Nov. 3 staff report to the City Council.

Several cities who enacted permanent bans on dispensaries have faced 
legal challenges by medical marijuana advocacy groups. 
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake