L.A. Now

Marijuana dispensaries are banned in Newport Beach

Brick-and-mortar marijuana dispensaries and delivery services are now illegal in Newport Beach.

Despite protests from two public speakers Tuesday night, the City Council gave its final OK on an ordinance banning the cultivation, processing, distribution and delivery of medical cannabis in Newport Beach.

The ordinance, which was introduced and passed by the council on Nov. 10, is in response to the state's Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act, which Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law Oct. 9. The act, which becomes effective Jan. 1, will create California's first statewide licensing and operating rules for pot growers, manufacturers of cannabis products and retail outlets since state voters legalized medical marijuana nearly 20 years ago.

The act also states that unless cities take immediate action to enact rules or bans for medical marijuana in their jurisdictions, the state will become the sole authority for licensing and regulation.

Newport Beach's municipal code previously did not address medical marijuana, though dispensaries have not been allowed to operate in the city, according to City Manager Dave Kiff. Though there are no brick-and-mortar pot dispensaries operating in Newport Beach, several online services say they deliver marijuana to people in the city, according to an Internet search.

Frank Moreno, chief executive of MJIC, a Newport Beach cannabis investment firm, asked the council to reconsider banning marijuana delivery services as part of the ordinance.

"I know for a fact there are thousands of residents who hold medical marijuana cards," he said. "Many of whom are unable to travel to get safe access to quality medical marijuana."

Fry writes for Times Community News.

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times
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