City Denies Business License for Medical Marijuana Dispensary

Council votes to uphold urgency ordinance.

Written by RANDY SHUN / Published December 18, 2009 (ONLINE ONLY)

Temple City city councilmembers voted unanimously on Tuesday to deny a business license to Temple City Patients Collective Association (TCPCA), citing the recent city moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries.

The applicant’s representative, Marina Drabkin, and legal counsel, Anthony Curiale, appeared before the city council on August 18, 2009. Both sought to appeal a staff decision denying their applicant a business license to operate in the city of Temple City.

“What council must decide is whether or not our business license ordinance allows the issuance of a business license for a business that would be prohibited under the ordinances and regulations of the City,” interim city attorney Eric Vail said.

According to Vail, the city council could not issue a business license to TCPCA.

The appellant’s attorney disagreed.

Curiale stated that cities had a right to determine whether or not medical marijuana dispensaries could exist. He further warned that if the city denied his applicant a license, his appellant could sue the city for “wrongful denial.”

Drakin then spoke, accusing the city of imposing a moratorium only after she submitted her application to the city. She protested the “dishonest” and “discriminatory” approach city staff took.

But city staff have offered a different timeline.

“Ms. Drabkin stated during her early visits that her client wished to operate a pharmacy…and that the pharmacy may sell several different types of herbs,” wrote community development manager Joe Lambert in a staff report dated August 18.

“During those visits, Ms. Drabkin never mentioned that medical marijuana would be dispensed at her client’s business location, and during these visits no business license application was submitted to the city” he continued.

The application was submitted to city staff on or about April 20, 2009, according to the staff memo. An information packet, in response to city staff inquiry of the business services, was turned in a week later.

On April 21, the city council enacted urgency ordinance 09-925U, prohibiting the establishment or operating of a medical marijuana dispensary.

The urgency ordinance was extended on June 2. It will not expire until April 2010.

Section 2 of urgency ordinance 09-926U reads, “no use permit, variance, building permit, or any other entitlement for use shall be accepted, processed, approved or issues for the establishment or operation of, and no person shall otherwise establish, a ‘medical marijuana dispensary’ and no existing business shall begin dispensing medical marijuana.”

The emergency city ordinance has the support of the Los Angeles County Sheriff and Los Angeles County District Attorney. The city’s Planning Commission also endorsed the law prohibiting medical marijuana dispensaries in Temple City.

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