During a special meeting Tuesday, the Walnut Creek City Council passed an urgency ordinance establishing a temporary moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries in the city, according to city records.
Walnut Creek thus joins the cities in the Tri-Valley, including Pleasanton, that already ban medical marijuana dispensaries.
Walnut Creek council members passed the 45-day temporary ordinance by a 4-1 vote with Councilman Bob Simmons voting against it.
In response to inquiries from several people seeking to open medical marijuana dispensaries in the city, city staff recommended that the council pass the ordinance in order to give them more time to research if and how the city should regulate medical marijuana dispensaries.
The city's municipal code doesn't currently address regulation of dispensaries nor does it have any rules in place regarding licensing or background checks for people seeking to open dispensaries in the city.
According to a staff report, other cities with established medical marijuana dispensaries have reported an increase in crime at and near the dispensaries, including illegal drug sales, robberies of people leaving the dispensaries, loitering, and falsely obtained medical marijuana identification cards.
California voters passed the Compassionate Use Act of 1996, allowing people to use, posses and cultivate marijuana for medical purposes. Then in 2003, the state legislature passed a Medical Marijuana Program bill that recognized the right to collective and cooperative cultivation of
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that federal law, which states that possession and cultivation of marijuana is a crime, preempts state law, giving federal agents the authority to charge people for possessing or cultivating marijuana even if they were protected under the state's Compassionate Use Act.
However, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. recently stated that the U.S. Department of Justice would no longer raid medical marijuana dispensaries, according to the staff report.