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  1. Alfa
    POT STORES MUST WAIT FOR MONTH

    Ban allows time to set rules, Sacramento County says.

    Sacramento County officials put a temporary lid on medical marijuana
    shops Tuesday to give themselves a month to decide how to regulate
    sales of the drug in unincorporated areas.

    Following the lead of other local governments, the Board of
    Supervisors agreed to a 30-day ban on medicinal cannabis dispensaries
    in unincorporated areas to devise a plan to keep neighborhoods, store
    owners and residents safe, officials said.

    "This is not an attempt to pre-empt the Board of Supervisors from
    deciding what is and isn't allowed," county Counsel Robert Ryan said,
    adding that the moratorium is an attempt to establish guidelines for
    how medical marijuana shops should operate.

    Proposition 215, passed by state voters in 1996, allows primary
    caregivers to administer marijuana to patients who have a doctor's
    prescription, but local governments across the region have found
    themselves largely unprepared to handle the growing number of requests
    to open marijuana dispensaries. That's because most local zoning codes
    do not have a category for them.

    Citrus Heights, Rancho Cordova, Roseville and Auburn regulate medical
    marijuana stores; Rocklin banned marijuana sales outright in July;
    other cities still are considering how to respond.

    Medical marijuana advocates say dispensaries are no different from
    pharmacies and should be regulated as such. County officials disagree,
    saying medical marijuana - technically an illegal narcotic under
    federal law - needs its own category of rules to make sure
    dispensaries are properly located and operated.

    Supervisor Roger Dickinson said the county may need to come up with a
    licensing arrangement for medical marijuana dispensaries similar to
    state requirements for pharmacists.

    "The county may have to establish a similar plan legally, financially
    and practically to do that," he said.

    County officials will meet in the coming weeks to establish their
    plan, and advocates on Tuesday asked to be included, but that decision
    will be made by County Executive Terry Schutten.

    Ryan Landers, state director for the American Alliance for Medical
    Cannabis, said the patient's point of view should be represented in
    any task force on medical marijuana.

    Twisting open an orange prescrip
    tion bottle and holding up 3.5 grams
    of his leafy medicine, Landers said, "This is a life-and-death, very
    serious issue."

    A dispensary "if regulated properly, can look like an anonymous
    facility when children walk by," he said. "Many people, especially the
    elderly, won't go to the streets to get medical marijuana."

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