Pico Rivera will not allow marijuana dispensaries

PICO RIVERA >> A ban on medical marijuana dispensaries in the city will remain in place after City Council members Tuesday refused to move forward a proposal legalizing them.

When it came down to a motion, no council member would make it, in effect killing the proposed ordinance.

Councilmembers decided to keep their ban in place when city staff informed them a November statewide ballot measure to legalize the use of marijuana would still allow local control over whether to outlaw dispensaries.

“If Proposition 64 changed something and put us into a position where we’d be vulnerable … I would be in favor of getting in front of this,” Councilman Gregory Salcido said. “But it seems there is no need to because Proposition 64 changes absolutely nothing.”

Dispensaries have been banned in Pico Rivera since 2008.

Mayor David Armenta and Councilman Bob Archuleta had proposed legalizing the dispensaries in response to Proposition 64.

“I thought it was going to mandate us to do something,” said Archuleta. “Obviously, it didn’t so it’s a moot point. Why change (the law)?”

Armenta said he wanted rules in place in Pico Rivera so that the city could respond more easily if voters approved the statewide ballot measure this November.

“We’re only looking to strengthen our position and to have an ordinance in place,” he said.

The Pico Rivera ordinance would have made proposals from medical marijuana businesses to operate dispensaries due by Sept. 30, with the city council making a decision to of how many and which dispensaries to approve by Oct. 11.

City Manager Rene Bobadilla told the council making medical marijuana legal would make it easier to police and regulate dispensaries and to recover the necessary costs of enforcement by charging fees.

Bobadilla said it cost the city $75,000 to shut one dispensary down.

Christopher Cardinale, deputy city attorney, said the legal operators also might tell the city about the illegal ones.

“It could cut down on staff time,” Cardinale said. “The permitted facilities would rat them out.”

Resident Monica Sanchez at the meeting presented a petition with about 100 signatures to the council opposing legalization.

“There was no publicized forum to let residents to voice their concerns,” Sanchez said. “Have you thought of how marijuana sales will impact students at El Rancho High School? This decision to amend the code appears to be rash, hasty and lacking transparency.”

Desiree Borboa, who is opening a dispensary in La Puente, now runs a delivery service and would have been an applicant in Pico Rivera, said Wednesday that she’s disappointed, adding that there’s demand for medical marijuana in the city.

“There are thousands of patients,” Borboa said. “My patients come to me from Pico Rivera. There also are teenagers. I’ve had a teenager who goes to dialysis. There are lots of ailments who affect all ages, it’s not just the aged and veterans.”

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