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Oceanside Planning Commission Votes To Zone For Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

The Oceanside Planning Commission has voted to recommend a zoning change to allow medical marijuana dispensaries in the city.

Photo by Promise Yee

Nature’s Leaf Collective has been operating in Oceanside for about a year. The goal of the nonprofit medical marijuana dispensary is to provide patients a safe place to fill a doctor’s prescription for the drug.

Currently dispensaries effectively are banned in Oceanside, although one dispensary is fighting a legal battle to remain open.

Planning Commissioner Louise Balma said testimony from patients who use medical marijuana to treat multiple sclerosis, breast cancer and post-traumatic stress disorder swayed her and fellow commissioners to cast the 3-2 vote.

"They are taking it in forms not like smoking a joint, they’re taking it in like an oil, they’re putting it in their food and they ingest it." she said. "Or they take it as a cream and they’re putting it on their skin, so they get the actual effects of the medicine part of it, the medicinal purposes of marijuana."

Two Oceanside planning commissioners strongly opposed the zoning change.

The request for the zoning change was initiated by George Sadler, director of Natures Leaf Collective. The nonprofit medical marijuana dispensary has been operating in Oceanside for about a year. City litigation is pending.

Medical marijuana was approved for patient use in California in 1996, and patient access through nonprofit dispensaries in 2003. Marijuana remains illegal under federal law.

The full Oceanside City Council will make the final decision on whether to approve zoning for medical marijuana dispensaries in the city. No date for that vote has yet been set.

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