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San Diego City Council Passes Medical Marijuana Regulations

The City Council on Tuesday passed regulations for medical marijuana dispensaries in San Diego that will limit the establishments to no more than four per council district.

The 8-1 vote, with Councilman Mark Kersey dissenting, sets zoning and operating restrictions for collectives.

The panel has addressed the issue numerous times since California's Compassionate Use Act was approved by voters more than 17 years ago.

Zoning and operating guidelines passed in 2011 were rescinded after medical marijuana advocates collected enough signatures to force council reconsideration.

The advocates considered the 2011 regulations too restrictive, but taking them off the books had the effect of making all dispensaries within city limits illegal. The restrictions in the new plan are considered to be even tighter.

While the regulations will allow dispensaries to operate legally, supporters hope the restrictions will allow them to limit potential problems.

"We can't afford to turn our backs on this, otherwise there will be a continued proliferation of these illegal operations and, chances are, there will be further and greater abuses of the system," Councilwoman Marti Emerald said. "These drugs are going to wind up in the hands of kids and people who really don't need this for medicine."

She asked for a staff report in one year to make sure the collectives are abiding by the rules, while still allowing safe access for patients.

Operators of dispensaries will have to get a conditional use permit from the city, which will be good for five years, and an annual public safety permit from the San Diego Police Department. They will mostly be placed in industrial zones.

Also, collectives will not be allowed to operate within 1,000 feet of public parks, churches, child care centers, playgrounds, residential care facilities, schools and other dispensaries. There will also be a 100-foot buffer from residential zones and the dispensaries will be prohibited from having on-site medical professionals, to prevent dispensaries from becoming "one-stop shops."

The panel accepted an amendment from Councilwoman Lorie Zapf to establish the four-per-district cap.

Otherwise, large numbers of dispensaries would be allowed to concentrate in Kearny Mesa and Otay Mesa, but not in other areas.

The zoning scheme will keep collectives completely out of the district represented by Interim Mayor Todd Gloria, encompassing downtown, Hillcrest and North Park.

"I think having a cap is fair for all council districts," Zapf said. "It spreads (the impact) out."

Kersey said planning groups within his district voted to oppose the medical marijuana proposal. Councilman and former mayoral candidate David Alvarez voted for the regulations but lamented the restrictions on access.

The California Coastal Commission will have to approve the regulations for the area of San Diego near the shoreline. That could happen in around three months, according to city staff.

Comments

Avatar for user 'mudd86'

mudd86 | February 25, 2014 at 6:25 p.m. ― 5 months, 1 week ago

This is so incredibly disappointing. San Diego has such a large, suffering veteran population, among many other demographics that need access to this medicine. I wish City Council was more educated on the issue- then we would have access.

"It doesn't have a high potential for abuse, and there are very legitimate medical applications. In fact, sometimes marijuana is the only thing that works."
- Dr. Sanjay Gupta

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Avatar for user 'fuggetaboutit66'

fuggetaboutit66 | February 25, 2014 at 7:06 p.m. ― 5 months, 1 week ago

It is very sad to see that our fair city is heading in the wrong direction again. While state governments around the country are all taking a new look at marijuana as a result of the incredibly successful Colorado move, our city council members sound as though they have just emerged from a screening of "Reefer Madness." What a shame.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | February 25, 2014 at 10:41 p.m. ― 5 months, 1 week ago

The zoning scheme will keep collectives completely out of the district represented by Interim Mayor Todd Gloria, encompassing downtown, Hillcrest and North Park.
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So bars and strip clubs are OK, but medical marijuana isn't allowed in the entire urban core?

Time to sue the city, I'm afraid.

I hope someone gets on this and uses them good for this incredible SHAM!

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | February 25, 2014 at 10:44 p.m. ― 5 months, 1 week ago

Also, collectives will not be allowed to operate within 1,000 feet of public parks, churches, child care centers, playgrounds, residential care facilities, schools and other dispensaries. There will also be a 100-foot buffer from residential zones and the dispensaries will be prohibited from having on-site medical professionals, to prevent dispensaries from becoming "one-stop shops."
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So the council made medicinal marihuana zones more restrictive than the zones where sexually violent predators can reside.

Way to go, council, your really showing your bias against mm.

SUE, SUE, SUE - the ACLU, mm rights groups, I hope they sue the city into oblivion!!

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | February 25, 2014 at 10:51 p.m. ― 5 months, 1 week ago

the dispensaries will be prohibited from having on-site medical professionals,
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What could POSSIBLY be wrong with that?

Here pharmacies are encouraged to have more medical professionals but the council wants to not even allow medical professionals there?

What if they were not there to prescribe, but just to oversee and give advice on what strain and how much to smoke for what types of maladies.

Sheesh, has the council gone mad?!

Each sentence of this stupid thing has my jaw dropping in awe of the ignorance!!

Anyone who lives in Todd Gloria's district who has a serious medical condition and is unable to drive to Kearny Mesa or wherever to get their prescribed medications needs to start calling the ACLU and lawyers.

The city needs to be sued.

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Avatar for user 'xwagner'

xwagner | February 26, 2014 at 5:59 a.m. ― 5 months ago

Odd that KPBS would not include any comments from MMJ advocates. Kind of telling, actually. And no MMJ dispensary in Hillcrest? Really?

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Avatar for user 'Mmikey'

Mmikey | February 26, 2014 at 7:43 a.m. ― 5 months ago

maybe they are cutting out the competition for their friends.

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Avatar for user 'Observer2014'

Observer2014 | February 26, 2014 at 11:50 a.m. ― 5 months ago

Good point Mmikey. Restricting the number of operations to four per district is going to be very lucrative to the lucky few who qualify. This is going to have an adverse effect on prices that have to be paid by sick and often poorer members of the community.

It's ironic that Todd Gloria was front and center at the groundbreaking for Walgreen Pharmacy! So Todd, why do you ignore the patients in your constituency that wish to use alternative medication?

VIVA le Big Pharm!

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Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | February 26, 2014 at 12:13 p.m. ― 5 months ago

oh poor pot heads how will they ever survive without their medicine

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Avatar for user 'Observer2014'

Observer2014 | February 26, 2014 at 1:10 p.m. ― 5 months ago

JeanMarc they will survive with more difficulty as I said.

Your sense of superiority over "poor pot heads" is typical of the people you represent who have a blinkered view of the world.

There are real sick people that California voted to provide a legal means of obtaining a natural medicine and YOU AND YOUR IND NEED TO GET OVER IT! .

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Avatar for user 'Observer2014'

Observer2014 | February 26, 2014 at 1:13 p.m. ― 5 months ago

I mean you and your KIND have to get used to it.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | February 26, 2014 at 2:03 p.m. ― 5 months ago

Jean, your lack of compassion is distrubing.

I hope that you or a loved one never has to reach the point of being so sick you can't hold down food and smoking marijuana gets you through chemo but you have people calling you a "pot head" when you go to get your medication.

You and others are trying to "over dramatize" the people who game the system. You have no idea what percentage they actually are, and as long as the sick are getting their legitimate medication who cares if some stoner manages to buy a few joints?

Marijuana has legitimate uses and the side effects are LESS than many prescription medications.

Look at the investigating and reporting on this issue Dr. Sanjay Gupta has done. He used his credentials as both an MD and a journlaist and has done solid work exploring this issue and finding that it is a legitimate medicine.

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Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | February 26, 2014 at 2:44 p.m. ― 5 months ago

All drugs should be legalized. Let people be responsible for their own success or demise. We don't need nanny government to make health decisions for us, or to subsidize our healthcare if we decide to become obese pigs or smokers.

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