Pubdate: Thu, 23 Jun 2011 Source: Acorn, The (Agoura Hills, CA) Copyright: 2011 J.Bee NP Publishing, Ltd. Contact: http://www.theacorn.com Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/4227 Author: Sylvie Belmond CALABASAS: FILE CIVIL, NOT CRIMINAL CASES AGAINST POT DISPENSARIES Ordinance revision The Calabasas Planning Commission said last week it would reinforce regulations against marijuana dispensaries in an attempt to prevent lawsuits against the city. Medical marijuana dispensaries are prohibited in Calabasas. Dispensing cannabis as a home occupation also is illegal. But criminal charges that are filed against medical marijuana users run counter to the California Compassionate Use Act of 1996, which legalized medical pot sales statewide. Local governments, however, can still pursue civil cases against dispensary owners-with less fear of backlash. A proposed change to the Calabasas pot ordinance will make the selling of medical marijuana a civil violation rather than a criminal act. "That way, a court could not invalidate this. It's closing a loophole," said Holly Whatley, assistant city attorney for the city. The fight against medical marijuana has been fraught with pitfalls. In 2007, a court case challenged Anaheim's pot shop ban. A judge ruled in favor of the Qualified Patients Association, stating that local governments could not seek misdemeanor charges against people who open medical marijuana dispensaries in cities where the businesses are outlawed. "When this item first came to the planning commission, we didn't know what the impact of medical marijuana dispensaries would be on cities," said former planning commissioner Martha Fritz. "Since then, it's been proven that they can be disruptive." Revisions to the Calabasascode must be approved by the City Council before they can take effect. "It's simply an attempt to strengthen what is already in our code," City Planner Tom Bartlett said. - --- MAP posted-by: Richard R Smith Jr.