PITTSBURG -- Medical marijuana dispensaries will not be able set up shop here under action taken Tuesday night by the City Council.

By a vote of 5-0, the council approved a staff recommendation to ban medical marijuana dispensaries from operating within city limits. The ordinance will come back for final approval at the council's Feb. 19 meeting. It would go into effect 30 days after it receives final approval.

A staff report said a permanent ban was needed to deter criminal activity such as robberies, burglaries and vandalism. The use of medical marijuana is banned under federal law, despite a measure approved by California voters in 1996 that approved its use. However, it is left up to local governments to determine whether to allow dispensaries to operate within their jurisdictions.

In April 2011, the City Council approved a 2-year moratorium that expires this April. It banned dispensaries from opening while city staff studied whether to develop regulations that would allow them to operate or to ban them permanently. Before the moratorium went into effect, East Bay Collective operated a dispensary without the required city permit. But the dispensary did not stay open after the city obtained a court injunction to shut it down.

Statewide, more than 50 cities and counties allow dispensaries, while more than 70 cities have moratoriums against them and another 170 cities have approved outright bans, according to Americans for Safe Access, a national organization that advocates for the safe and legal use of medical marijuana.


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Contact Eve Mitchell at 925-779-7189. Follow her on Twitter.com/EastCounty_Girl.