Vote may ban sites in unincorporated areas
Ryan Hagen, Staff Writer
Posted: 02/01/2011 05:32:51 PM PST

With narrow exceptions, medical marijuana distribution may soon be banned in unincorporated San Bernardino County.

The county Planning Commission will vote Thursday on whether to turn a moratorium on permits for new dispensaries into a ban on marijuana dispensaries, which would only allow medical marijuana to be distributed at hospitals and other strictly defined providers that opponents of the move say wouldn’t allow for any significant distribution.

If the commission approves the ordinance, it will go to the Board of Supervisors for a final decision – other than the legal challenge dispensary owners are threatening.

Riverside, Los Angeles and Orange counties have recently moved to ban marijuana dispensaries, which are illegal under federal law but allowed under California law. Lawsuits soon followed, but have not been decided.

Combined with what amounts to a ban on dispensaries in all 24 of San bernardino County’s incorporated cities and towns – 19 have passed a ban, four have a moratorium and one, Chino Hills, effectively prohibits it through an ordinance against breaking federal law – unincorporated lands risked becoming a dumping ground, said county spokesman David Wert.

“Most of our cities and the other surrounding counties have banned dispensaries, and if the county doesn’t follow suit, that could create havoc,” Wert said.

But Allen Bartleman, a civil-rights attorney who has defended clients in marijuana-related cases, said havoc was exactly what the county was inviting.

“What they’re going to do is increase the proliferation of illegal marijuana,” Bartleman said. “When people have to go get their marijuana on the black market, they’re not going to go to a nice dispensary where they have doctors. They’re going to go to dope dealers.”

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