Yucaipa Renews Its Marijuana Prohibition

Yucaipa is the latest San Bernardino County city to adopt a ban on medical marijuana sales, distribution, cultivation and manufacturing, having moved to beat a March 1 deadline set by the California legislature in order to avoid coming under what some consider to be too permissive state regulations.
The Yucaipa City Council on January 25 adopted a revamped ordinance prohibiting all order of cannabis commercial activity within the 51,367-population city.
Faced with the options of a total ban and the state’s version of control, or legalization, the city council chose to redefine and tighten the prohibition the city has had in place since 2009.
The Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act, an amalgam of AS 243, AB 266 and SB 643, which passed both houses of the legislature last year, is set to go into effect on March 1. The bills put in place a revamped set of regulations for physicians who recommend or prescribe marijuana for their patients and they lay down licensing requirements for the cultivation, distribution and transportation of medical marijuana, together with safety and testing requirements and protocols for the drug.
The regulations inherent in the bills, including opening the door to marijuana purveyors and producers, i.e., operators of clinics, dispensaries and farms, are not binding on municipalities that have their own prohibitions or licensing and operating protocols in place prior to March 1. But those standards will apply to those cities and jurisdictions that do not have their own ordinances codified by that date.
Proposition 215, or the Compassionate Use Act of 1996, was enacted, on November 5, 1996 by means of the initiative process. It allows for the use of marijuana for medical purposes, but leaves open to local authorities the question of whether its sale is to be licensed and permitted in individual cities and jurisdictions.
A relatively limited number of marijuana clinic operators throughout the state for nearly two decades braved a circumstance in which they could conduct selling marijuana under the guise of medicine in accordance with state law but risked confiscation of their product and money, closure of their facilities and arrest and conviction by federal law enforcement officers, since the drug was yet considered illegal under U.S. statutes pertaining to narcotics. In many cases, cities adopted local ordinances disallowing the operations of dispensaries and clinics. In December 2014, however, the Barack Obama Administration, through the attorney general’s office, signaled federal officials would no longer enforce marijuana laws in those states where the drug had been legalized for medical or recreational purposes. Over the last thirteen months, ever greater numbers of entrepreneurs have gone into the marijuana trade. In some San Bernardino County cities, most notably in Needles and Adelanto, those city governments have allowed the issuance of business licenses to, in the case of Needles, purveyors of Marijuana and cultivators of the plant, and in the case of Adelanto, cultivators.
A number of other San Bernardino County cities, however, have remained on the prohibitionist side of the marijuana divide.
Anticipating a circumstance in which would-be marijuana operation applicants would seek to exploit any gaps in the city’s more than six-year-old ordinance and set up shop in Yucaipa by meeting the state guidelines, the city council clarified outright bans across the spectrum of cannabis related activities. Other cities in the county, including Chino and Redlands, adopted ordinances earlier this month to head off the possibility of marijuana operations obtaining entitlements under the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act.
In Yucaipa, as in some other areas, there is a sharp difference in the stances taken by many of its most vocal residents with regard to the medical marijuana issue. Some residents maintain that there is a legitimate medical application for the drug and that some individuals suffering from certain maladies and conditions should be provided with compassionate access to the substance. Others question its medical value and others see easy medical marijuana availability as an illegitimate ruse by those who wish to obtain the drug for recreational purposes and those who want to profit by such sales.
In Yucaipa, the city council is populated by individuals of, or otherwise more amenable to, the views expressed by, the latter two groups.

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