Despite community protest, City Council passes medical marijuana ordinanceAround the City Thursday, March 31st, 2011
Following a five-hour debate, the City Council voted 5-2 Monday to pass a medical marijuana ordinance that limits dispensaries to light industrial zones, which means most of the current pot shops in Ocean Beach, Hillcrest, Pacific Beach, and downtown will have to close.
Nearly 500 people attended the City Council session which was devoted to the sole topic of a medical marijuana ordinance. The Council voted to allow marijuana dispensaries in Mission Valley, Barrio Logan, Southeast San Diego, Otay Mesa, and San Ysidro.
District 3 Councilmember Todd Gloria made the motion for the ordinance but conceded early on that the ordinance before them is “more restrictive that I would care for,” a remark that got applause. Dispensaries must not be within 600 feet of schools, parks, libraries, day care centers, and churches. Gloria changed the 1,000 foot restriction to 600 foot.
Dispensaries must have a security system, be open 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, obtain a conditional use permit, and be nonprofit. Patients will be allowed to possess a pound of pot if they have a medical marijuana state identification card, and be allowed to grow 24 marijuana plants.
Many LGBT people spoke about how marijuana increases appetite, especially for those with AIDS, and some said it decreased pain. Rudy Reyes, who suffered burns over 70 percent of his body in the 2003 wildfires, said it worked for him.
Voting in favor were Council President Tony Young, and Councilmembers Kevin Faulconer, Sherri Lightner, and Marti Emerald. David Alvarez was absent.
Councilmembers Carl DeMaio and Lorie Zapf voted against it, with DeMaio saying the city’s finances are in crisis and the cost of enforcing this is unknown. Zapf said she was disappointed colleges were not listed in the 600 foot restriction.
California voters approved a medical marijuana ballot measure in 1996 that allows patients to use the drug if recommended by a doctor. Ways of implementing the ordinance was left out of the measure and it is still illegal to transport marijuana.
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