BY ARIEL CARMONA JR.
Diamond Bar – Last month, Diamond Bar followed suit with many San Gabriel Valley cities which have moved to ban medical marijuana dispensaries in the county. At their recent meeting on Jan. 21, the City Council moved to amend the City’s municipal code prohibiting the operation and establishment of medical marijuana dispensaries for 45 days in order to comply with Federal law and in order to give City staff time to enact a future ordinance permanently banning dispensaries as a permitted use under the City’s current zoning laws.
Council Member Jack Tanaka said the last dispensary in the City operating several years ago was monitored by the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department, but the City didn’t experience any problems with the facility at the time. “As long as people had their prescriptions, we left them alone,” said Tanaka, who added, “Things may change as a result of the emergency ordinance the City just passed and as a result of the trend by San Gabriel Valley cities to enforce Federal law. That’s what the Planning Department is going to be looking into the next 45 days.”
Tanaka said mobile dispensaries would also be subject to the City’s amended zoning ordinances. “Normally mobile businesses still have to get licenses to come into the city.” He added that he was not aware of any mobile dispensaries delivering into Diamond Bar but because of the newly approved ordinance, law enforcement would have grounds to shut down any operation if it was made aware of one.”
Citing criminal behavior within the City associated with the dispensaries last summer, through the approval of a similar ordinance, the City of Covina also banned all types of medical marijuana dispensaries from operating within city limits. According to a local newspaper’s account, the City’s decision followed a California Supreme Court ruling in May 2013 that allows cities to make their own decisions on whether medical marijuana dispensaries can operate within their borders.
However, despite the approved bans, there are still medical mobile dispensaries (MMDs) delivering strands of medical marijuana such as Indica, Sativa and edibles, working out of the San Gabriel Valley and delivering to surrounding areas such as La Puente, Pomona, Walnut, La Verne, El Monte, Covina and other parts of the county, according to an online directory posted by High Times Magazine. These dispensaries claim to have “new strains coming every day” and even offer discounts for seniors and college students, as long as they can verify they possess a valid medical marijuana card.
Public information made available by the City of Covina’s staff in 2013 identified at least four services within ten miles that advertised directly within the city on “Weedmaps.com,” an Internet listing service. Staff reports to the City Council last summer stated, “In other parts of the state, shuttered businesses turned to delivery services instead. There is reason to expect the same in the City of Covina in light of the Supreme Court’s recent ruling, Covina’s cooperation with Federal law enforcement, and its own aggressive action to shut down MMDs.”
Madeline Balsz, a representative from the Covina City Clerk’s office, confirmed the City’s ordinance also banned mobile dispensaries and deliveries. Wording from the ordinance (No. 13-2022) made public by City staff states, “No person shall deliver marijuana or marijuana infused products, such as tinctures, baked goods or other consumable products, to any location within the City from a medical marijuana dispensary, regardless of where the medical dispensary is located.” A call to City Attorney, Michael Montgomery, to clarify the statutes was not returned at press time, but Lieutenant John Curley of the Covina Police Department said deliveries made by mobile dispensaries into the City would be considered a violation of the City’s statutes.
According to a San Gabriel Valley Tribune report, a Federal crackdown in the City of La Puente forced the last three remaining collectives in that city to shut down two years ago.
However, the website, Where’s Weed?, lists a number of marijuana dispensaries in La Puente which may still be operating under the dispensary delivery business model which does not necessitate a storefront and thus avoids Federal crackdowns. Google searches indicate similar delivery services are operational in Chino, Glendora, Pomona and Rancho Cucamonga, among other San Gabriel Valley cities.