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Costa Mesa extends city marijuana limits for 10 more months

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Marijuana grows at a medical marijuana cultivation center in Illinois in 2015. The Costa Mesa City Council on Tuesday approved a 10-month extension of an ordinance to maintain city marijuana rules while staff studies options for implementing California’s law legalizing recreational use of the substance.
(File photo | AP)

With no discussion, Costa Mesa City Council members Tuesday unanimously approved a 10-month extension of an ordinance aimed at maintaining the city’s marijuana rules after California voters legalized recreational use of the substance statewide.

The urgency ordinance, originally passed Jan. 3, was set to expire Feb. 17. The extension will keep it in place for an additional 10 months and 15 days.

As written, the ordinance keeps the status quo regarding marijuana in Costa Mesa to the extent possible under state law.

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City staff said the ordinance allows the city more time to study options for implementing Proposition 64, the statewide measure approved in November that authorizes people 21 and older to legally possess, use and grow marijuana for recreational purposes, with certain restrictions.

The city will work to “develop permanent regulations for the council to review and make a decision on,” said interim Development Services Director Jay Trevino.

Trevino said during a council meeting last month that issues meriting further study include “whether cultivation of marijuana beyond the six plants allowed in Proposition 64 should be permitted — including whether outdoor cultivation is permitted — and, secondly, whether recreational-marijuana business should be allowed and, if so, where and under what conditions.”

The ordinance does not affect Costa Mesa’s voter-approved Measure X, which allows businesses that research, test, process and manufacture some medical marijuana products to open in the industrial and manufacturing zone north of South Coast Drive and west of Harbor Boulevard — though not in South Coast Collection — provided they obtain permits from the city.

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Measure X kept in place the city’s existing ban on over-the-counter marijuana dispensaries.

In November, Costa Mesa voters rejected two initiatives — Measures V and W — that would have allowed limited numbers of medical marijuana dispensaries to open in town.

Ambulance service

City Council members are expected to discuss and possibly change the city’s ambulance service model at a meeting in April.

Under the current system, Fire & Rescue Department trucks respond to emergency calls alongside a city ambulance with paramedics aboard and an ambulance operated by Care Ambulance Service, a city contractor.

Care Ambulance takes patients to a hospital. For patients whose condition is more critical, city paramedics will go in a Care ambulance for the hospital trip, with a city ambulance following along to give the paramedics a ride back to the fire station.

Critics say that model is inefficient.

City staff will present updated recommendations on the ambulance service model to the council for review in April.

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“The intention is to bring the most viable option to this council that is going to sustain and benefit the community in the long run,” Fire Chief Dan Stefano said.

luke.money@latimes.com

Twitter: @LukeMMoney


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