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Medical Marijuana Community On Board With New Draft Ordinance

A draft medical marijuana ordinance coming before the City Council on Monday so far has the medical marijuana community’s support.

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Draft Medical Marijuana Zoning Map

Draft Medical Marijuana Zoning Map

A draft medical marijuana zoning map presented to ...

Aired 4/19/13 on KPBS News.

A draft medical marijuana ordinance coming before the City Council on Monday so far has the medical marijuana community’s support.

After the council approved an ordinance in March 2011, medical marijuana supporters said it too greatly limited the places patients could get their medical marijuana. So, they gathered signatures to force the new rules to be repealed.

“They felt that the zones became so restricted that it was pretty much just denying access to people that were really in need," said Ken Cole, president of the United Patients’ Alliance, the trade association of medical cannabis distributors. "They couldn’t get to a lot of the places.”

The new proposal expands the zones enough that medical marijuana supporters are on board. The proposal also says dispensaries must be at least 600 feet from schools, public parks, child care centers, playgrounds and other medical marijuana dispensaries. In 2011, there were distance restrictions on churches, libraries and youth centers, but those locations aren't restricted now.

Mayor Bob Filner proposed the ordinance in March, and included instructions for a $5,000 annual marijuana dispensary permit fee and a 2 percent tax on medical marijuana sales.

On KPBS Midday Edition, Filner answered a question from Voice of San Diego CEO Scott Lewis about whether this tax is legal, because money toward medical marijuana is technically considered a donation. Filner said the tax could be collected, but may have to be approved by a public vote.

Lewis noted the draft ordinance also changes Filner's original wording from an "excise" tax on sales to an "excise tax on all medical marijuana dispensary acquisitions."

Cole said medical marijuana supporters decided to try again for a new ordinance partly because of Filner.

“None of this would be possible without the mayor stepping in," he said. "It could never have happened again. I think it would have died.”

The City Council will have its first discussion of the new rules Monday. Council members will give city staff instructions on how to draft the final ordinance.

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