MURRIETA: Council to consider extending dispensary moratorium

17 Sep

Murrieta will consider extending a year-long moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries during this week’s council meeting.

For the past year, a series of conflicting rulings on dispensary bans have emanated from courthouses across the state. The California Supreme Court has agreed to hear several of the cases, but has yet to do so.

Murrieta first passed a moratorium on dispensaries last October, but the issue is still unsettled and officials now want another year-long extension.

A law passed in 2005 already outlaws dispensaries in Murrieta. But officials are concerned the state Supreme Court could rule such blanket bans aren’t allowed and dispensaries would open before the city could put regulations in place.

Murrieta officials have been staunchly against allowing dispensaries in the city. In a staff report on the moratorium, police Capt. Dennis Vrooman pointed to the fact marijuana in any form is still illegal under federal law.

Dispensaries come with a number of “secondary effects,” Vrooman wrote. He used as an example a 2009 report by the California Police Chiefs Association that says dispensaries bring, “Drug dealing, sales to minors, loitering, heavy vehicle and foot traffic in retail areas, increased noise, and robberies of customers just outside dispensaries.”

Two groups have tried to open dispensaries in Murrieta in the past year. CMG Outreach and Green House Cannabis Club were both quickly met with resistance. City police pulled over patients leaving the shops, code enforcement officers stopped by for daily inspections and fines, and the city sought court orders to shut the facilities down.

In the end, the escalating fines and court orders forced both to close. Green House has sued the city. The lawsuit is pending.

The City Council meets at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 18 at City Hall, 24601 Jefferson Ave.




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