South Lake Tahoe passes marijuana dispensary ordinance
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. andamp;#8212; After almost two years of public meetings, wordsmithing and debate, the South Lake Tahoe City Council on Tuesday gave initial approval to an ordinance regulating medical marijuana dispensaries.The ordinance will limit the number of dispensary permits issued by the city to three, require the three existing dispensaries to submit detailed applications and operating plans, prohibit the transfer of dispensary permits and require dispensaries to keep records of each transaction.The ordinance prevents dispensaries from relocating without council approval. If one of the three permits is invalidated, it would also be up to council members to decide whether they want to allow another operator to apply for the permit.Violation of the ordinance allows the South Lake Tahoe city manager to suspend, modify or revoke a dispensary permit after 10 days notice and lay out an appeal process for a dispensary operator in response.The council approved the ordinance three to two.Councilman Bruce Grego and councilwoman Angela Swanson voted andamp;#8220;no.andamp;#8221;After the meeting, Grego said he would have voted andamp;#8220;noandamp;#8221; on any dispensary ordinance short of an outright ban. The concept of medical marijuana dispensaries in South Lake Tahoe is andamp;#8220;repugnant to me,andamp;#8221; Grego said. He said he continued to work on the ordinance because he didn’t think he had the votes for a ban and wanted the best ordinance possible.Swanson said she voted andamp;#8220;noandamp;#8221; on the ordinance largely because she was against the law’s prohibition on transferring a dispensary permit.Final approval of the ordinance, known as a andamp;#8220;second reading,andamp;#8221; is expected at the council’s Sept. 13 meeting. With an upcoming deadline nearing, the council faced pressure to pass the ordinance this week, and much of Tuesday’s meeting was spent debating specific language in the ordinance.An emergency moratorium on new medical marijuana dispensaries in the city expires Nov. 16. The moratorium was enacted after three dispensaries andamp;#8212; Patient to Patient Collective, Tahoe Wellness Collective and City of Angels 2 Collective andamp;#8212; began operating in the city.City Councilman Tom Davis sounded especially ready to move forward with the ordinance Tuesday after the lengthy back and forth the council has engaged in over medical marijuana.andamp;#8220;It’s time to make a decision,andamp;#8221; Davis said.Although final passage of the ordinance is expected next month, City Attorney Patrick Enright said the council is likely to make tweaks to the approved ordinance as soon as October.Giving the city council, rather than the city manager, control over the replacement process for a revoked dispensary permit is one expected change.Whether the city should be indemnified under dispensary insurance policies and whether the city can regulate smoking marijuana in apartment buildings are also expected to be discussed following final passage of the ordinance.