Governor Considers Bill That Would Prohibit Marijuana Dispensaries from Being Located 600 Feet from Schools

Medical marijuana buyers’ clubs and dispensaries would be prohibited from being within 600 feet of public or private school under legislation on Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s desk.

Through local zoning ordinances, cities and counties already have the ability to restrict where various types of establishments are located. Los Angles, for example, faces court challenges over an ordinance that took effect in June that will close 439 marijuana collectives and forbids any remaining ones to be located within 1,000 feet of a school or another dispensary.

More than 40 cities and counties have passed ordinances regulating the activities of dispensaries— limits on plants and buds, for example. Several other cities including Walnut Creek and Danville, have passed local laws restricting dispensary locations. Berkeley restricts dispensaries from being within 1,000 feet of a school.

So far, the state has not inserted itself into local land use decision-making on the issue.

“As medical marijuana dispensaries continue to open throughout the state, they are increasingly located near schools and parks, public libraries and child care facilities,” wrote Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, a San Ramon Democrat in justification for her bill, AB 2650.

“To keep medical marijuana dispensaries from further encroaching from (sic) places where children and families congregate, we believe we need to keep them a measured distance from these locations.”

State law currently prohibits a variety of activities within 1,000 feet of a school. Tobacco advertising on billboards is one. Possession of gun is another. Sex offenders cannot live within 1,000 feet of a school. Drug dealing within 1,000 feet of a school carries a harsher sentence.

Buchanan’s bill originally was a measure on medical treatment of inmates by Assemblyman Alberto Torrico, a Fremont Democrat.

She gutted that measure and replaced it with one that restricted dispensaries from being located within 1,000 feet of a school.

The Marijuana Policy Project, which favors legalizing and regulating marijuana, opposed Buchanan’s bill.

“MPP and our allies helped dramatically weaken the bill by reducing the buffer from 1,000 feet to 600 feet and grandfathering in dispensaries in cities with pre-existing ordinances that were less strict,” the group says on its website.

While Buchanan’s bill would “grandfather in” local ordinances approved prior to January 1, 2011, cities and counties are still free to pass more restrictive ordinances.

Among the bill’s supporters are the Association of California School Administrators, the California State PTA and the California Police Chiefs Association.

Home schools are not included in the bill’s restrictions.


September 7 is the 69th day of the new fiscal year for which no budget has been enacted. The Legislature is required by the constitution to send the governor a spending plan by June 15, two weeks before the start of the fiscal year.


1 Comment »

  1. Hey, wait a minute!

    Shouldn’t the school nurses office be a point of distribution? That is not within 600 feet, it is WITHIN.

    Ok, I kid.

    I think.


    Comment by CL Walker — 9.07.2010 @ 6:13 pm

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