Council to discuss new pot ordinance

To limit number, places, and quantities sold

Nearly three years after city councilmembers repealed San Diego's first medical marijuana ordinance instead of placing it on the ballot, a new ordinance has finally made its way back to the dais. The council will discuss the ordinance at a February 25 hearing.

The proposed ordinance caps the number of dispensaries at 100; relegates them to industrial and commercial areas of the city, no less than 1000 feet from parks, churches, day-care centers, and other dispensaries; and they must be at least 100 feet from residential areas. The ordinance would also prohibit the use of medical marijuana onsite and limit the amount of pot that patients can obtain.

Councilmembers will also discuss the possibility of taxing marijuana as a way to grab revenue, as recommended by a majority of planning commissioners during a December 5, 2013, hearing.

The decision, however, does not rest solely with the council. The California Coastal Commission will need to certify the ordinance before it takes effect.

In the meantime, code-enforcement officers will continue their search using the internet and other tools for dispensaries operating without permits. So far, that search has resulted in the closure of numerous dispensaries as well as two new lawsuits from the city attorney's office.

"The San Diego Police Department has re-launched a massive eradication effort against dispensaries, collective cultivation efforts, and medical marijuana patients," wrote Eugene Davidovich, chapter coordinator for San Diego Americans for Safe Access in a November blog post on the group's website. "Those using cannabis with a doctor’s recommendation are not safe from the very law enforcement that’s supposed to protect them.

"Since taking office a few months ago, Interim Mayor Todd Gloria has made eradication one of his top priorities. Gloria shifted the city’s course from protecting patients to eradicating safe access. The new Mayor with direction from District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis has directed SDPD to do ‘whatever it takes’ to dismantle any and all medical marijuana locations in the city."

A spokesperson for Gloria, however, disagrees that the interim mayor put pot at the top of his to-do list: "When the City Council took action on Mr. Filner’s medical marijuana dispensary ordinance last year, it requested changes to the ordinance to make it more closely resemble the ordinance that was approved in 2011. Interim Mayor Gloria asked staff to make the revisions requested by the City Council."

The council will discuss the ordinance at 2 p.m. on February 25.

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