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Dispensary debate heats up

July 08, 2010

Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich's bid to ban medical marijuana dispensaries in unincorporated parts of the county ran into opposition Tuesday, although county officials were instructed to draft an ordinance for review.

With the support of leaders in La Cañada Flintridge and elsewhere, Antonovich sought an outright ban on the dispensaries. He said pressure is increasing on the 100-plus communities in the unincorporated county to accommodate the businesses, in part because cities such as Glendale and Los Angeles have passed their own bans or moratoriums.

At Tuesday's board meeting, Antonovich also cited two recent incidents where people were shot during robberies at Los Angeles marijuana dispensaries.

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"We've seen in recent days with the killings that have taken place," Antonovich said. "We've seen the type of violence and crime that has occurred."

But Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, who represents much of West Los Angeles, noted the county has an existing law that allows dispensaries, but only after applicants acquire a permit. In the four years since the county passed the law, five applications have been filed. And of those, one was withdrawn, one was rejected and three are pending.

"This is a motion in search of a problem," Yaroslavsky said. "The proof in the pudding is we haven't had a rash of applications, and none of the applications have been approved."

Others on the board said it made more sense to wait for the courts to decide legal challenges to municipal prohibitions on pot dispensaries, and for the outcome of a ballot measure that would legalize and tax marijuana.

A state appellate court is expected to rule on a challenge to a municipal ban on marijuana dispensaries later this month.

Meanwhile, Supervisor Gloria Molina said the real problems are the illegal clubs "popping up" outside any set of regulations and the ability of the county to quickly shut them down.

She wanted to know what the county can do to force illegal operators to close immediately while the review process runs its course.

The supervisors eventually agreed to have officials draft an ordinance banning the dispensaries for further review.

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Chiang mixes some good with bad news

When California State Controller John Chiang came to Glendale on July 2, he told a gathering of the Glendale Kiwanis Club that there was more to report than just dire budget projections. Thousands of people

may be entitled to money being held by the government, he said.

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