Medical marijuana dispensaries to wait for a year for permits

El Centro

Medical marijuana dispensaries to wait for a year for permits

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EL CENTRO, CA (13 On Your Side) - Business owners looking to open Medical Marijuana dispensaries in El Centro will have to wait another year to apply for a permit.

City leaders nixed a proposal that would have allowed dispensaries to open shop this year.

Council members passed an ordinance that would've allowed dispensaries to open - but council passed a proposal delaying business owners from opening up within city limits.

Instead, city attorney Kris Becker says, the city will begin accepting permits starting next year.

She says the change comes after dispensaries in Long Beach got themselves into a legal battle.

"There was a case in Long Beach where an appellate court determined that if a local agency permits a local medical marijuana dispensary, it goes beyond mere decriminalization to actually authorizing it (the use of marijuana)."

According to Becker, El Centro's city ordinance mirrors the ordinance passed in Long Beach and that's why the city wants to avoid having to pay for the cost of getting into a legal battle.

Becker also says there's still confusion between California's voter-approved law allowing the sale of medical marijuana and the federal law making it illegal.

"The federal government has a law in the books called the Substance Control Act. And the Substance Control Act, according to the federal government, any use of marijuana is recreational and therefore prohibited. But the question is still out there - the question of whether or not a jurisdiction regulating medical marijuana can be done."

According to city officials, El Centro will not accept permit applications until next July.