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Antonovich calls for ban on pot dispensaries

July 02, 2010|By Bill Kisliuk

Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich is seeking a ban on medical marijuana clinics in unincorporated areas, including the Crescenta Valley.

In seeking the ban, Antonovich cited the explosive growth of pot dispensaries in the region, difficulties in enforcing restrictions on existing clubs and the fact that more than 100 California cities have banned the clinics. The county Board of Supervisors is slated to address the proposal Tuesday.

Glendale, which has no legal dispensaries, has a moratorium in place while city attorneys draft their own ordinance. But the push comes as Los Angeles cracks down on dozens of pot dispensaries.

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“Unincorporated communities which are adjacent to cities that have banned medical marijuana dispensaries will become the obvious ‘locale of choice’ for dispensary operators,” Antonovich wrote in his motion for a ban.

His spokesman, Tony Bell, said leaders in La Crescenta, as well as in the San Gabriel and Antelope valleys, have sought help in keeping dispensaries out, and noted that Antonovich’s district includes more unincorporated areas than any other county supervisor.

“This is a proactive solution that will protect the interest of our unincorporated communities and ensure some consistency with regard to the way cities are proposing bans and moratoriums,” Bell said.

Business and political leaders in La Crescenta said they favor the proposed ban.

Cheryl Davis, president of the Crescenta Valley Town Council, said she “absolutely supports” Antonovich’s effort.

Pot dispensaries are banned along Foothill Boulevard, but that doesn’t mean they couldn’t pop up elsewhere without a new law, she said.

Howard Hakes, president of the Crescenta Valley Drug and Alcohol Prevention Coalition, said the ban on dispensaries shouldn’t preclude other avenues for those who had a medical need for marijuana.

“As you hear the stories of how they’re fighting the dispensaries in the city limits of Los Angeles, it’s clear there is no good to come from it. If it is legal to have medical marijuana, let them go to their doctor and get it,” he said. “But to have these little pharmacies doesn’t help anybody.”

Representatives from the Los Angeles office of California NORML, a group advocating for the legalization of marijuana use, could not be reached Thursday.

But Russell Jackson, assistant manager of the Foothill Wellness Center in Tujunga, which sells medical marijuana, said the regulation of dispensaries in Southern California was already vigorous and that clubs far from city centers play an important role for patients.

“We have patients with travel and health restrictions, and having a dispensary they can access easily is a good value to them,” he said.

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