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City Council tightens medical marijuana rules more

Laguna Beach has identified additional sites that could house medical marijuana dispensaries if a ballot measure passes in November.

Laguna Beach has identified additional sites that could house medical marijuana dispensaries if a ballot measure passes in November.

(File photo)

Laguna Beach will not allow commercial cultivation and large-scale deliveries of medical marijuana, the City Council unanimously decided Tuesday.

The vote builds on an ordinance that banned medical marijuana dispensaries in 2009.

The latest vote is designed to prohibit someone from purchasing an acre of land and growing the plant for profit, a city staff report explained. It also allows Laguna to maintain control of the regulation of marijuana within in the city.

The council must vote on a second reading, scheduled Jan. 26, before the ordinance would become law.

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“They aren’t just bringing 8 ounces to a house. They are bringing more than that,” Laguna Police Chief Laura Farinella said of smugglers seeking to reap profits from sales of the drug. “I’m fearful of the dispensary now at someone’s doorstep.”

The ordinance would not change current law, which allows caregivers to have in their possession a certain amount of marijuana acquired for a client who has a valid doctor’s note indicating a medical need for the drug.

In 1996, California voters passed Prop. 215, known as the Compassionate Use Act, which allows for personal use and cultivation of marijuana for medical reasons after a patient has received a physician’s recommendation.

Once someone receives a doctor’s approval, he or she may possess up to 8 ounces of marijuana and cultivate either six mature or 12 immature plants.

Councilman Bob Whalen asked police to describe the difference between a mature and immature plant.

“It gets technical,” Sgt. Tim Kleiser said. “We refer to the bud size. The immature plants, basically, are the pre-stages of the buds growing. As plants mature, the buds will get bigger and take off, and that is the stuff that includes THC,” the chemical responsible for most of marijuana’s psychological effects.

If Laguna officials had not acted, they risked losing control of marijuana oversight to the state.

Gov Jerry Brown in October signed three bills that took effect Jan. 1 related to medical marijuana oversight. Among other things, they preserve the right of individuals to grow small amounts of medical marijuana for personal use and allow local governments to ban or tax marijuana-related businesses, the Associated Press has written.

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No one from the public spoke on the issue.


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