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The two marijuana testing labs permitted in Lake Forest will face tighter guidelines after the City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to repeal the ordinance allowing them in the city.

The labs will be allowed to operate as legal nonconforming uses, meaning they are legally protected under the previous ordinance but will no longer meet the city’s municipal and zoning code requirements. 

The city has already issued permits for the facilities, Sunstar/Green Forest Laboratories and United Labs, allowing them to function within Lake Forest’s industrial districts, but neither has begun business, according to a city staff report.

Sunstar is currently obtaining a state license, while United has yet to submit its license application, the staff report reads.

The council first voted to allow up to two marijuana testing labs to operate in the city last year in February. Labs must be at least 600 feet away from schools and daycare centers, the report reads. 

Sunstar and United are still allowed to operate, but are now unable to expand or make certain structural changes to their buildings, staff report reads. 

Council member Neeki Moatazedi said she visited one of the labs and said it was an impressive business whose purpose is to prevent harmful synthetic material from getting into the public’s hands.

Moatazedi said from a federal perspective marijuana is a class A controlled substance but from a local perspective the testing labs prevent harm to individuals using a legal substance. 

“It’s a very difficult line to dance but I think the best compromise is to make it a nonconforming use, that means these businesses can operate but if they suspend operations then can’t proceed any no longer and also it prevents anyone else from wanting a license,” Moatazedi said.

Mayor Pro Tem Robert Pequeño said he can’t support any cannabis testing in the city because marijauna itself is against federal law, so he voted to repeal the ordinance. 

Anthony Robledo is a reporting intern for Voice of OC. He can be reached at arobledo@voiceofoc.org or on Twitter @AnthonyARobledo

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