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Submitted by on 1, November 6, 2008 – 11:00 amNo Comment

We’ve been so focused on election stuff we almost missed this special council meeting agenda and its main item: An urgency ordinance establishing a moratorium on the establishment or expansion of medical marijuana dispensaries (thanks for the tip, little birdie!).

Here’s the sitch:

Apparently, a dispensary called Purple Elephant set up shop over O’Connell Motors on Webster Street in July (though folks seem to have just discovered it a few weeks ago). Since then, the Planning and Building department has gotten two or three calls from others who inquired about setting up additional dispensaries here on the Island.

“We’re realizing that our regulations – we don’t have anything that discusses this,” Supervising Planner Cynthia Eliason told us. Without specific regulations, a dispensary could apply to operate as a pharmacy, medical office or miscellaneous retail use, and there would be no restrictions on where such a facility could be located, according to a staff report.

So city staff are asking the council to approve a 45-day emergency moratorium on medical pot clubs, which they will then ask to extend so they can talk to local businesses and the community and also check out how other communities have handled medical marijuana.

The staff report lays out some of potential problems some communities have had with dispensaries, including increased illegal drug activity, robberies of those leaving the dispensaries and loitering. The facilities have also been targeted by federal authorities.

It’s unclear to us at this point whether Purple Elephant would be required to shut down if the moratorium, which has to be approved by 4/5ths of the council, passes.

We’re waiting to hear back from Luke Coleman, who is the listed contact for the dispensary, to get his side of the story. (But the place is getting rave reviews from users on this site.) We spoke with the folks at the Webster Street Business Association, who said that while merchants have said they’re concerned, there haven’t been any problems so far that they are aware of.

We’ll be at the council tonight, and we’ll have more information for you first thing tomorrow. The meeting starts at 7:25 p.m.

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