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Fee Imposed On Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

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Medical marijuana dispensaries in San Diego County will have to pay an annual fee of about $11,000.

— The County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to amend an existing ordinance that strictly regulates medical marijuana dispensaries.

Emotional testimony from nearly two dozen people on each side of the medical marijuana issue ended in a contrite but unanimous board decision to impose a hefty fee on medical marijuana dispensaries throughout the county.

The $11,017 annual dispensary fee is about the same amount of money other cities like San Francisco impose on their dispensaries.

County supervisor Ron Roberts said his decision upholds state law. But he called the debate misplaced.

“The fundamental problem is we’ve moved what should be a medical issue into a law enforcement issue and I think that is unfortunate,” Roberts said.

The county sheriff’s department says the fee will be used for law enforcement and to do background checks on dispensary owners.

The board also approved a zoning change to a county ordinance. The requirement for dispensaries to be at least 1,000 feet away from schools, parks, and churches will now extend beyond city borders into adjacent cities and unincorporated areas in the county.

Supervisor Diane Jacobs said which ever decision she made, people would be unhappy about it. But she added medical marijuana issues should start with the FDA.

“I suppose if the FDA would approve marijuana as a prescription drug, we wouldn’t be having to make this decision today,” Jacobs said.

Medical marijuana use is not legal under federal law, but California law allows its use for medical reasons.

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