By Jason KUROSU
The Glendale City Council maintained the city’s ban on medical marijuana dispensaries Tuesday, ensuring that Glendale controls how medical marijuana is regulated or whether it is banned outright before a newly-signed law would transfer regulatory authority to the state.
Cities and counties across California have taken similar actions after the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act was signed in October. The law is composed of three bills dictating how medical marijuana operations will be regulated and licensed statewide. However, one provision gives cities and counties until March 1 to set land use and zoning regulations expressly prohibiting the cultivation, delivery and distribution of medical marijuana.
Glendale banned the establishment and operation of medical marijuana dispensaries within the city in 2011, but amended that ordinance Tuesday to specifically prohibit medical marijuana cultivation in all city zones, including Specific Plan areas, for any reason.
City Manager Scott Ochoa said the amendments were adopted “to preserve the city council’s ability to retain the sole discretion over the regulation of this industry in this community.”
Despite the continuation of the ban, the door was left open for future alterations to city ordinances regarding medical marijuana.
“While Glendale has taken a position in the past, as reflected with the ban that we currently have with respect to dispensaries and other ancillary medical marijuana businesses and endeavors, the legislative landscape is continuing to evolve,” said Ochoa, adding that Tuesday’s decision allowed the council to “extend the status quo until such time that you opt to change the status quo.”
The council voted unanimously in approval of the amendments, which City Attorney Michael Garcia said gave the council the “maximum flexibility” to make potential policy changes down the line.
Councilmember Laura Friedman said that potential medical marijuana use in Glendale was “a different discussion for a different day” and that the council should “bring this back when the law is implemented and we know what we are looking at.”
Friedman said that she voted for 1996’s Compassionate Use Act, which allowed the use of medical marijuana in California, but disagreed with its application, saying its implementation thus far was “not what I envisioned I was voting for.”
Friedman said the city could look to craft new ordinances regarding medical marijuana in the future, once the state establishes its framework for regulation. Until then, Glendale will stay the course in order to retain regulatory control.
“The primary thing right now is to maintain our ability to control and to weigh-in on these issues,” said Friedman. “I don’t suggest we try to craft ordinances based on laws that aren’t fully implemented and that we don’t have a good understanding of.”