[UPDATED With Official Explanation] Rancho Santa Margarita Extends Ban On Marijuana Dispensaries

UPDATED, Nov. 10, 1:30 P.M.: There's an interesting story on the Rancho Santa Patch website about the city's recent moratorium. In it, city attorney Greg Simonian, who came up with the idea along with city manager Steve Hayman, basically tells reporter Martin Henderson that the city is just using the moratorium to enforce an ongoing ban against cannabis collectives.

Simonian notes that in nearby Lake Forest, the city spent hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to shutter several clubs for violating city codes, until it finally realized the easier option was to simply call up the DEA and get them to seize the property where the clubs were located. Rancho Santa Margarita's moratorium will last two years. That's a long time to figure out how else to keep the pot clubs out of town. Nice work, fellows. Who knew subverting the will of the people could be so easy?

ORIGINAL POST, Oct. 27, 10:27 A.M.: Cities throughout California–and
by “cities” we actually mean “city attorneys, council members and other
local officials”–are struggling to figure out how exactly marijuana
will figure in the lives of their constituents. Two major factors are
spurring this ongoing pot-related brainstorm: the federal government's recently-announced crackdown on medical marijuana dispensaries and a state court decision from Long Beach that appears to render any city's pro-cannabis stance illegal.

Long Beach, which had enacted an ordinance allowing clubs to operate after paying a $15,000 fee and surviving a convoluted series of bingo-style lotteries and increasingly restrictive ordinances, is reportedly about to ban cannabis clubs.

Now comes news that another Southern California city, Rancho Santa Margarita, is extending its 45-day pot ban passed last month, thereby prohibiting marijuana dispensaries from operating until Sept. 27, 2012. This news comes courtesy of our ever-vigilant colleagues at the Orange County Register, specifically Erika Ritchie, who's been closely following the south county drama—and by “drama” we mean a flurry of back-and-forth lawsuits and more recently, the federal seizure of a Lake Forest strip mall that had been renting space to eight clubs located next door to a day-care center.

According to Ritchie's article today, there are two cannabis clubs had been operating in Rancho Santa Margarita “without permits in a local business park” and that–snitch alert!–a telephone call “to one of the shops known as California Alternative Remedies located at 29839 Santa Margarita Parkway seems to indicate the shop may still be in business.” 
Assuming you're a resident of Rancho Santa Margarita and a member of said collective, you might want to stock up on your medicine ten minutes ago.

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