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San Diego Medical Marijuana Regulations Get Final OK From City Council

Young plants in a Denver-area house tended by licensed medicinal marijuana ca...

Photo by Coleen Danger via Compfight

Above: Young plants in a Denver-area house tended by licensed medicinal marijuana caregivers sit under a grow light on Nov. 25, 2009.

The City Council on Tuesday gave final approval to a package of zoning and operating restrictions for medical marijuana dispensaries in San Diego.

Under the ordinances, dispensary operators must get 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.

Collectives may not be within 1,000 feet of public parks, churches, child care centers, playgrounds, residential care facilities, schools and other dispensaries, and not be within 100 feet of residential zones. Dispensaries also are barred from having on-site medical professionals — a law intended to prevent such businesses from becoming "one-stop shops."

The zoning will keep collectives completely out of the district represented by Council President Todd Gloria, encompassing downtown, Hillcrest and North Park. No more than four collectives will be allowed in any of the other districts.

Councilwoman Marti Emerald called the regulations "fair and reasonable."

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Zoning and operating guidelines passed in 2011 were rescinded after medical marijuana advocates collected enough signatures to force council reconsideration.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

The second reading of the regulations passed on a 6-1 vote, with Councilman Mark Kersey dissenting, after just one member of the public spoke. Public testimony took several hours each time the medical marijuana issue previously came before the council members.

Kersey repeated his "no" vote of two weeks ago. He said at the time that community groups in his district opposed the regulations.

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.

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