Local government officials throughout California are questioning the impact that medical marijuana dispensaries are having on their communities.

Cities have adopted moratoriums on medical marijuana dispensaries to allow city councils more time to analyze and address specific issues surrounding these facilities. 

The City of Santa Cruz has just extended its 45-day moratorium on dispensaries and production houses to six months. (Read the Santa Cruz ordinance here).

Concerns have been raised in the community of Santa Cruz regarding the increasing number of permit applications, and the impact that an over concentration of medical marijuana dispensaries and production houses have within the community.

Currently, the City of Santa Cruz is the only city in Santa Cruz County that allows medical marijuana dispensaries and product houses.

The City of Dixon is the last city in Solano County to adopt a moratorium on medical marijuana. The City Manager of Dixon, Nancy Huston, said that several requests for these applications have recently been pulled. This prompted the City Council to take a vote for a moratorium. The council did not attain the necessary 4/5 vote to instate a moratorium.

Santa Cruz requires two applications be processed in order to be approved to run a marijuana dispensary. The city is taking this extended time to analyze public safety with the proliferation of these facilities.

The initial moratorium that was issued stated, “There is no feasible alternative to satisfactorily study the potential impact identified above as well or better with a less burdensome or restrictive effect than the adoption of this interim urgency moratorium ordinance.”

Juliana Rebagliati, City Planner of Santa Cruz, said, “The City has not had problems with crime associated with the two dispensaries permitted in Santa Cruz.”

National City in San Diego County has placed a 45-day moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries while it determines the effect the facilities would have on the city.

Mayor Ron Morrison of National City said that the city would extend the moratorium up to one year if necessary.

“I think it will reaffirm the need to not rush to judgment either positively or negatively concerning this issue,” Morrison said.

Police Chief Jon Cox from the City of Dixon said, “The majority of dispensaries are not protected.” 

Cox said there is abundance of documentation proving that these facilities are vulnerable to robberies, homicides and illegal sales.

“My job is to enforce the law,” said Cox. The City of Dixon will present this issue to the council again on August 25.

City Manager of Santa Cruz, Richard Wilson, said, “The council’s intent is to meet the demand of the city’s population.”

He claimed that the City of Santa Cruz is not interested in becoming a regional supplier.

Wilson said that the demand for marijuana is very high. “Some are auctioning the product to the highest bidder” said Wilson.

Wilson said that he believes legalization of marijuana is long since past due. California legalized medical Marijuana in 1996.

Other cities that have a moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries include Manhattan Beach, Atascadero, Benicia, Arcata, Fairfield, Vacaville and Lodi. These staff reports can be viewed under the category of medical marijuana facilities on PublicCEO.com.

Louis Dettorre can be reached at ldettorre@publicceo.com