10:00 PM PDT on Friday, April 29, 2011

By IMRAN GHORI
The Press-Enterprise

Opponents of San Bernardino County’s medical marijuana ordinance filed a lawsuit Thursday, claiming that the ban on dispensaries was approved illegally.

Crusaders for Patients Rights, the group that filed the suit, is seeking an injunction to block enforcement of the law, approved by the Board of Supervisors last month.

The county ordinance outlaws all dispensaries, defining them as any group of three or more people involved in cultivating or distributing marijuana. It also restricts patients from growing their own marijuana, banning any outdoor cultivation.

The ordinance provides an exemption for state-licensed facilities to cultivate or distribute marijuana, but opponents say the provision is meaningless because such facilities are not allowed by federal law to do so.

California law allows people to use marijuana to treat a variety of ailments, provided they have a doctor’s recommendation. Most Inland cities, however, prohibit medical marijuana dispensaries, and federal law bans the use of marijuana for any reason.

Letitia Pepper, an attorney for the group, said the county violated state law by not conducting an environmental impact review, saying the ban on outdoor cultivation would lead some patients to grow indoors and increase energy use.

The county approved a notice of exemption, stating that the ordinance did not require such a study.

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