Despite uncertainty over whether courts will later invalidate the move, the city has become one of many in California to ban medical marijuana dispensaries. The ban, approved Tuesday, replaces a moratorium that had been in place since 2009, as the city waited for courts to decide whether a ban was allowed under state law.

When the main case they had been watching avoided addressing Doina the question directly, the City Council saw the time remaining until the moratorium expired was dwindling and decided to act.

The largely Seventh-day Adventist city – where residents attended a recent council meeting to oppose plans for a McDonald’s – couldn’t afford to risk the dangers to health and safety residents thought dispensaries would bring, said Mayor Rhodes Rigsby.

“We had a hard time getting people to accept the possibility of a burger joint, let alone a joint joint,” Risgby said.

Rigsby said the concern wasn’t to enforce morality but to guard against misuse and keep the city clean.

“My personal beliefs on this probably don’t matter to most people, but my belief is that marijuana – like other herbally derived medicine – does have some use,” said Rigsby, who is also an internal medicine physician at Loma Linda University Medical Center. “My concern is the overuse for questionable reasons like a sense of unease…. That’s just my belief as a physician.”

Proponents of medical marijuana, though, say it’s the only medicine that works for some people and that bans make it impossible for people to legally obtain it for that treatment.

Those ranks include attorney Roger Jon Diamond, who on June 20 convinced the 4th state District Court of Appeal to keep an Upland dispensary open while it considered whether state laws allowing medical marijuana use prevent cities from banning it.

“Would you shut down a pharmacy because maybe somebody is misusing a pill or something, when the great majority, maybe 95percent, use it right?” Diamond asked. “The thing that’s wrong-headed about what Loma Linda apparently did (Tuesday) night, is that the city did have authority under regular nuisance ordinances to shut it down if it was creating a nuisance or not operating according to state law.”

City Attorney Richard Holdaway said the law – which will be enforced by measures like fines and code enforcement, in an effort to avoid constitutional issues associated with criminalizing it – is on solid ground.

“All the cases have been favorable to the cities,” Holdaway said. “This recent stay (in Upland) doesn’t really overturn any of those decisions…. If courts (change course), we would certainly review our ordinance and comply with any applicable decisions.”