10:00 PM PST on Tuesday, November 24, 2009

By DARRELL R. SANTSCHI
The Press-Enterprise

HIGHLAND – The City Council voted Tuesday night to turn Highland’s moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries into a permanent ban.

Approval came on a 4-0 vote, with Councilman John Timmer absent.

The decision came eight months after the council first imposed a moratorium on the dispensaries and four months before the moratorium was due to expire.

The Highland City Council is one of a growing number of governments to ban dispensaries on either a temporary or permanent basis. Among the others are San Bernardino, Yucaipa, Loma Linda and San Bernardino County. The Calimesa City Council is scheduled to consider extending its ban on Monday.

California communities were quick to enact bans after the U.S. Supreme Court declined in May to hear challenges by San Bernardino and San Diego counties to a law enacted by state voters in 1996 decriminalizing the use of marijuana for medical purposes.

In a report prepared for Tuesday night’s Highland council meeting, city planners noted that federal law still prohibits the possession and sale of marijuana and cited a California Police Chiefs Association report “detailing the negative secondary effects associated with medical marijuana dispensaries.”

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