Months of build up ended anticlimactically, when a unified City Council gave a big thumbs-down to allowing medical marijuana dispensaries to receive business licenses in the city.


However, little is likely to change in Hesperia with the dispensaries that are already here.


Though the city has banned marijuana dispensaries since 2005, Hesperia is home to about a dozen of them, each operating without a city-issued business license. Merely lacking a business license isn't enough to get a business summarily shut down: It's only a fining offense.


"Code enforcement's going to still fine all of them (for) operating illegally," city spokeswoman Kelly Malloy said Wednesday. "As of right now, the ordinance we have right now is what our legal counsel says complies with federal and state law, but we're continually looking at court cases to see what the city's and citizens' rights are."


The five council members on Oct. 18 voted down a proposed revision of existing city ordinances, saying the dozen or so dispensaries operating in Hesperia were illegal.


"These places are money-generators," Councilman Russ Blewett said. "They're not acting as true collectives."


But if the council was united, the 19 members of the public who spoke out of an audience of about 100 were split almost exactly down the middle.


"The only people who will suffer" if dispensaries are banned "will be the patients and the taxpayers," Oak Hills resident Thomas Adler said.


"I am disabled and I know what pain is," resident Kim Jones said. "If marijuana is so good, why isn't it sold at Long's or Rite-Aid?"


"We've tried to do everything the right way. We haven't broken any state laws," resident Kevin Sutman said. If the council approved the measure, "you benefit, the patients benefit; we can all benefit."


The proposed ordinance change was drafted at the request of the West Coast Patients Group, and after months of discussion, in September, the Hesperia Planning Commission voted 3-2 to recommend the council approve the measure.


The measure would have required that dispensaries be located in industrial zones of the city, at least 600 feet away from residences, parks and K-12 schools and 1,000 feet from Main Street, Interstate 15 and Bear Valley Road.


The next regular meeting of the Hesperia City Council will take place at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 1 at Hesperia City Hall, 9700 Seventh Ave.


Beau Yarbrough may be reached at (760) 956-7108 or at beau@HesperiaStar.com. Follow us on Facebook at Facebook.com/Hesperia.Star.