Pubdate: Thu, 25 Jun 2009
Source: Orange County Register, The (CA)
Copyright: 2009 The Orange County Register
Author: Chris Caesar, Staff Writer


Planning Commission And School District Oppose Proposed Medical Collective.

LAGUNA BEACH  The planning commission complied with City Council's
request to draft regulations governing medical marijuana facilities in
the city Wednesday night.

They just didn't have to like it.

In a 5-0 vote, the commission offered three draft medical marijuana
ordinances to the City Council: one that would establish zoning and
land use codes for such facilities, a second regulating their
operation, and a third that  if adopted by the council  would
instead impose a city-wide ban on all such facilities.

Though the commission's recommendations still leave the City Council
with the final decision, the commissioners were unequivocal in their
support for a ban on marijuana collectives, saying they were skeptical
any regulations would adequately protect the city.

"While acknowledging the needs of ill patients to access marijuana, I
will not support  and will, in fact, vehemently oppose  the
allowance of collectives in the city," Commissioner Robert Zur
Schmiede said.

"Why anyone with a grain of sense thinks this is something we should
do is beyond me," he added, to some murmurs in the audience.

"I have serious questions about the ability to control the dispensing
of marijuana, the way the law is presently written," Commissioner Anne
Johnson said.

The City Council directed planning staff to draft the regulations
after former Laguna resident Sheridan Linehan announced plans to open
Laguna Beach Medical at 777 S. Coast Highway. A colleague told
commissioners that Linehan, who has previously said he sought to open
the facility after his late grandfather used marijuana to cope with
cancer treatment, was unable to attend Wednesday's meeting.

The proposed location is now no longer viable under the draft
regulations endorsed by the planning commission.

The commission's recommendations came only a day after Laguna Beach
Unified trustees also unanimously passed a resolution endorsing a city
ban on marijuana collectives. Laguna Beach High School Principal Don
Austin, Thurston Middle School Principal Joanne Culverhouse and school
board members Ketta Brown and Jan Vickers addressed commissioners in
their official capacities in support of a ban.

"We've had the highest drug and alcohol usage in Orange County for two
cycles in a row," Austin said of Laguna Beach High School. "The
dispensaries don't help that cause, and they have been problematic for
us in the past."

Should the City Council instead elect to reject the recommendation and
adopt a regulatory approach, any medical marijuana dispensaries in the
city would be required to submit to unannounced inspections by police,
bar patients under the age of 18 and maintain 120 hours of continuous
surveillance footage throughout their facility.

Association of Patient Advocates Executive Director William Britt told
the council that those regulations  which would also require
marijuana patients register their names and addresses with city police
 would be unconstitutional and could open the city to litigation.

"People are afraid to put their name on some government list that the
police have access to, and this is going to prevent people from doing
this  people are already living in fear," he said. "Some of our most
basic rights are the ones to be free from seizure in our papers and
person, and the right to associate. These are basic rights in our

"I can almost guarantee there will be lawsuits," he added. "I can
understand the directors and those working in the cultivation (being
registered with police), but to have actual members of the collective
register with the police is unreasonable, unconscionable and

The planners also recommended in a split decision that the city ban
the sale of edible forms of marijuana in such facilities, though Zur
Schmiede acknowledged that the planning commission had not heard or
sought medical testimony on the matter.

The opening of Laguna Beach Medical wouldn't be the first dispensary
in the city  two other unregulated facilities have operated since
California voters approved medical marijuana in 1996.

One closed on its own, while another was raided and shut down by Drug
Enforcement Administration agents last October. 
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MAP posted-by: Richard R Smith Jr