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Laguna Beach continues to resist the commercial side of recreational pot

Laguna Beach continues to resist the commercial side of recreational pot
The Laguna Beach City Council on Tuesday considered a proposed ordinance regarding recreational marijuana. This 2014 photo shows the bud of a marijuana plant found in the Muddy Canyon area of Laguna Coast Wilderness Park. (File photo)

The Laguna Beach City Council on Tuesday continued its hard-line stance against marijuana-related businesses, whether for medical or recreational purposes.

The council unanimously favored a proposed ordinance that would ban commercial cultivation, distribution and sales of recreational cannabis, which California legalized with passage of Proposition 64 last November.

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The Adult Use of Marijuana Act allows cities to enact bans on marijuana businesses, though a person may grow up to six plants in a locked area inside a private residence for personal use, as long as the plants are not visible from a public place.

In that same election, Laguna voters rejected a ballot measure — Measure KK — that would have lifted the city's current ban on medical marijuana dispensaries and allowed up to two dispensaries.

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City officials have said allowing sales of recreational marijuana in the city could attract loitering, criminal activity and increased traffic — the same concerns raised last year regarding medical marijuana dispensaries.

Resident Mike Beanan urged the council to reconsider while extolling the medicinal benefits of marijuana for people with certain health conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder.

He cited Proposition 215, known as the Compassionate Use Act, which voters passed in 1996. The law legalized medical marijuana in the state.

"The city is not showing compassion that goes with that law," Beanan said in an interview following the council's vote. "How would you like the police evaluating whether you need pain killers?"

Laguna Beach Police Chief Laura Farinella said the ordinance would not interfere with the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, which allows a person 21 years or older to buy marijuana and give it to someone 21 or older.

Costa Mesa also prohibits cultivation and retail sales of cannabis, though businesses that research, test, process and manufacture some medical marijuana products are allowed after voters in November approved Measure X.

Gov. Jerry Brown's administration is proposing streamlined rules for medical and recreational pot, the Los Angeles Times reported earlier this month.

Laguna council members need to pass the ordinance on a second reading before it would take effect.

Twitter: @AldertonBryce

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