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Ventura pot shops up for discussion

July 12, 2010 | 11:07 am

After a year of study, Ventura City Council members will debate Monday night whether the seaside city should permit medical marijuana dispensaries within its borders.

City leaders have held two public meetings to gather residents' views on the controversial issue. Ventura would become the first city in Ventura County to allow legal distribution of medicinal pot if the council gives its approval.

The town halls were packed with a largely supportive audience that wanted the go-ahead to form patient-run cooperatives or collectives. But county Dist. Atty. Gregory Totten, Ventura law enforcement and at least one school board trustee have voiced strong opposition, citing concerns about increased crime and greater access to the drug by children.

In a staff report, the council was presented with several options, from adopting land-use regulations that make room for dispensaries to doing nothing at all. The council also could decide to wait for the outcome of November's statewide marijuana legalization measure.

A moratorium on dispensaries and collectives is set to expire Sept. 3.

-- Catherine Saillant