When you hear "herbal remedies," do you think pot?

That's part of what a Superior Court judge will consider Thursday during a hearing on whether Union City can shut down a medical marijuana dispensary.

City officials say they told the dispensary that selling marijuana in the city was a no-go, but attorneys for Caring Hands Association counter that there is no written evidence of that and that the association said on its business license application it would be distributing "herbal remedies."

The hearing comes two days after the City Council extended a moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries for 10 months and 15 days, pending a separate state Supreme Court review of four cases on the issue.

The council issued the initial 45-day moratorium in January, after city officials learned that a dispensary, operated by the association, had opened at 34695 Alvarado-Niles Road.

"This urgency ordinance became effective immediately based on the threat to public health, safety and welfare that medical marijuana collectives present when unregulated by local governments," the city argued in court documents.

The initial moratorium would have expired March 9.

The dispensary requested its business license in January 2011 for retail sale of "holistic health care and related products and services," city officials said, adding that they informed the association that marijuana sales are not permitted.

While the city's Municipal Code doesn't specifically address medical marijuana dispensaries, it does require that any license be consistent with state and federal law.

Proposition 215 in 1996 legalized medical marijuana in California under state law, but federal law still prohibits it.

Still, the association argues it obtained the license after advising the city that it intended to "facilitate the distribution of herbal remedies" and that there is no written evidence the city mentioned marijuana.

The association "applied for and received the license and permit that most closely fit the category and type of business it was to conduct," it argued in court records. "The fact is, city's code in 2011 was moot as to (dispensaries) even though most every other municipality had dealt with the issue in one form or another."

Nearly 100 customers a day visit the dispensary, according to court records.

Meanwhile, it could take the state Supreme Court up to two years to rule on the four cases, which address local regulation of dispensaries.

If the court hasn't ruled by the time the moratorium expires, staff will ask the council to extend it for another year, City Attorney Ben Reyes said.

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