Leftovers from City Hall: The San Gabriel Valley gets a pot hub

LA PUENTE – I guess the San Gabriel Valley officially has a new marijuana capital – La Puente.

While officials at Los Angeles City Hall, the sheriff’s office, and the District Attorney’s office were all trying find ways to get rid of marijuana clinics, La Puente two weeks ago decided to allow six dispensaries.

By our count, that’s the most in the San Gabriel Valley.

It struck me as a curious move, especially for a city with only 40,000 residents that has spent the last five years unsuccessfully trying to attract developers.

When they passed the law, council members argued that their hands were tied because six clinics had already applied to set up shop.

That’s not a good excuse.

The city in August 2008 had the chance to temporarily ban the clinics, which would have given La Puente time to craft a law to regulate them.

Councilman Dan Holloway motioned to vote on the matter, but nobody seconded him. So the measure died. The city attorney at the time, Jamie Casso, warned that dispensaries would open.

Here’s another fun fact: The pot lobby, if it can be called that, has done a little work in La Puente.

A Political Action Committee run Mayor Louie Lujan’s brother Philip – called “Coalition for a Safe and Clean Environment,” – in 2006 donated $4,025 in mailers and money to Holloway, Louie Lujan and Councilwoman Nadia Mendoza.

Philip founded the Southern California Chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). And treasurer Liz McDuffie teaches classes about how to use pot. Neither one would say what the PAC did for the environment, and the coalition’s MySpace page was full of references to marijuana culture. We wrote a story on the PAC last year. I don’t think it’s still active.

Last week I posted some of the information about the PAC on our Leftovers blog on the Tribune’s Web site, a post that drew more comments than anything I’ve ever put up there.

Personally, I’m not very anti-marijuana. I’ve never smoked it, but I do not think it’s a big deal.

I know for sure I would not want to live in a city that was going to become a hub for marijuana dispensaries.

I wonder if the city can gradually ratchet down the number of dispensaries.

I doubt it will happen. I feel like some sort of intrigue is at play. La Puente’s City Council has historically been a little more cloak-and-dagger than most of our cities.

Meanwhile, the Internet is buzzing with reviews of La Puente’s marijuana dispensaries. Reviewers say Trinity Wellness on Amar Road has good product, but they complained the prices were a little high. The company’s Web site said first-time customers get a free glass pipe. And it offers discounts on rainy days. Another one on Hacienda Road is remodeling, but will still deliver Cali Mist or Purple Urcle to users’ homes, according it’s Web site.

An online review for the clinic is titled: “Just what LP needed!”

– Ben Baeder is the Deputy Metro Editor of the San Gabriel Valley Tribune