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Enforcement Concerns Raised Over San Diego Medical Marijuana Law

Medical marijuana will soon be sold legally in the city of San Diego.

Medical marijuana will soon be sold legally in the city of San Diego. City council members on Tuesday approved new rules, allowing up to 30 dispensaries to operate within city limits —four in each council district.

The law limits dispensary locations to commercial and industrial zones and requires them to be 1,000 feet away from each other, as well as schools, parks, churches and child care facilities. They also must hire security guards, have limited business hours and operate as nonprofits.

"I think this is a great first step for safe access in San Diego. This is going to create a permanent, stable, transparent ability for patients to obtain the medicine that so many voters in this state want legitimate patients to have access to," said Eugene Davidovich, co-founder of the Alliance for Responsible Medicinal Access.

Davidovich expects about a dozen dispensaries to come into compliance and open within the first year. He said his group will act as their chamber of commerce.

"And help them navigate the process to ensure that they can be good neighbors, to ensure that our neighborhood is protected and to ensure that legitimate patients actually obtain the access to the medicine they so desperately need," Davidovich said.

The city’s enforcement of the new law is raising concerns. Just two code enforcement officers currently monitor dispensaries. City Councilwoman Marti Emerald said permit fees will help pay for more officers, but she also believes marijuana sales should be taxed and is looking into putting a measure on the November ballot.

"To help pay the cost of regulating these businesses, enforcing the laws and making sure that they operate openly and honorably in our communities," said Emerald.

California voters approved marijuana for medicinal purposes in 1996, but the drug remains illegal under federal law.


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