Pubdate: Fri, 18 Sep 2009
Source: Laguna Beach Independent, The (CA)
Copyright: 2009 The Laguna Beach Independent
Author: Rita Robinson


The City Council unanimously passed an ordinance Tuesday night that 
prohibits medicinal marijuana dispensaries within city limits. The 
possibility of increasing sales tax revenue for the city was not mentioned.

Making his case that getting pot is already too easy, Mayor Kelly 
Boyd held up a local weekly newspaper that advertised free delivery 
to patients with a medical marijuana prescription card.

Council Member Toni Iseman recounted a personal anecdote: "I had an 
experience of sitting in my chiropractor's office who had sublet to 
an osteopath who was a marijuana doctor. In a matter of a half an 
hour, I probably saw five healthy males under the age of 22 walk in 
and walk out. It was a real eye-opener."

While acknowledging the need for marijuana for bona fide medical 
reasons, the council sided with Laguna Beach School District 
officials who voiced concern over adding the outlets to the city's 
list of attractions.

"Just last year, we had a young person in the age range of 10 who 
brought marijuana to school and several students purchased it. 
Several more students admitted to using marijuana on the weekends and 
on a regular basis," Joanne Culverhouse, principal of Thurston Middle 
School, told the council, adding that the students purchased the 
marijuana "from somebody who had a card."

A medical marijuana card, with photo identification much like a 
driver's license, can be obtained for approximately $100 from a 
county health department after receiving a prescription for the drug 
from a physician. There are more than 250 health problems for which 
it can be prescribed, ranging from cancer and cataracts, to 
premenstrual syndrome and joint pain.

One of five individuals requesting to open a dispensary in Laguna, 
Scott Monte of La Palma, said he represented a medical marijuana 
"collective," a licensed dispensary, and that purchasing the herb for 
relief of pain and other symptoms, requires following stringent guidelines.

"There's really no likelihood that a student could be a member given 
the criteria that we would go through," he said. "Our membership 
would be counseled in terms of their medicine and it's very unlikely 
they would have excess medicine in terms of something that could be 
sold more in a black market sense."

Nancy Robinson, a mother who has raised two children in Laguna Beach, 
offered a closerto home perspective on prescription Cannabis indica, 
which also comes in packaged "edibles" such as brownies, chocolates, 
cookies, cakes and lollypops for those who want to avoid smoking it.

"These kids know the doctors to go to (in order) to get these 
licenses," she claimed. "They all talk on the phone about who they're 
going to sell the pot to. Some of them can't smoke pot, it makes them 
paranoid, it makes them weak, it makes them sick, but they still have 
the cards just so they can sell the pot to these kids. These doctors 
are not being punished for giving these kids (medicinal marijuana 
cards). It's no big deal for these kids to get them. And when they 
get the pot, they just sell it for profit."

There are 11 internet-listed medical marijuana dispensaries currently 
operating in Orange County and 26 online delivery services. Two are 
listed in Dana Point, both located across the street from the post 
office, and one in Capistrano Beach, which listed no address and took 
only phone messages. According to information from the council 
meeting, the closest dispensary is in Laguna Hills.

"Whether a clinic's here or not, it's not going to solve the problem 
that the school administration has," commented Bill Roley, president 
of the Permaculture Institute of Southern California, college 
environmental science professor, former Laguna Beach Lifeguard and 
high school teacher.

"We're on a collision course with a cottage industry that's growing 
no matter if we deal with it or not," he said.

Rather than treating the problem punitively and using schools as 
"babysitters" for young people, Roley suggested that the schools make 
more efforts to get students interested in activities that they find 
constructive, preempting marijuana use.

"We're trying to legislate a morality situation and putting our heads 
in the sand, but it's all around us. Just by calling Laguna a 
pot-free city isn't going to stop the problem. (Marijuana use) a 
symptom of something much greater," said Roley.

California voters passed the Compassionate Use Act, Proposition 215, 
in 1996 by 52.6 percent. The law allows residents with a prescription 
to grow and possess the herb for personal medical use. As Section 
11362.5 of the California Health and Safety Code, the act was 
expanded to protect a growing system of dispensaries, known as 
collectives and cooperatives.

"When my grandfather, who started a church and has never done drugs 
ever in his life, got cancer, we helped him get a medical marijuana 
license," Sheridan Linehan, representing Laguna Beach Medical 
Marijuana, told the council. As a result, Linehan said his 
grandfather was able to lessen his reliance on narcotic pain relief 
medication. "Edibles was the only way he was able to ingest it. Just 
like morphine lollypops that doctors recommend, we got him medical 
marijuana lollypops."

Laguna Beach High School Principal Don Austin said there are 216 
students at the high school this year that are 18 years old, the 
eligible age for a physician's prescription for medical marijuana. 
The problem, isn't new he said, "Drugs from these facilities have 
undeniably been illegally distributed on our campus when the previous 
Laguna Beach collective was in place," he said.

Several local marijuana retail outlets were located in town in recent 
years, according to City Manager Ken Frank. The most recent, on Third 
Street next to the Laguna Beach Community Clinic, was closed in 2008 
after investigation by undercover police, due to lack of a city 
permit to use the building for that purpose. Another pot shop was 
closed shortly thereafter, said Frank, on South Coast Highway at 
Mountain Road for lack of proper city permits, as was a physician's 
office near Broadway and Beach Street.

"His specialty," commented Frank, "was giving prescriptions to kids 
in their 20's."

According to Austin, a California Healthy Kids Survey showed that 
drug use at school dropped dramatically while off campus use stayed 
relatively unchanged. "We believe that one contributing factor to 
this phenomenon was that the structure our school provides is not 
always replicated once our students leave us for the day," he said.
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MAP posted-by: Keith Brilhart