City Council votes 6-2 to repeal medical marijuana ordinanceAround the City Thursday, July 28th, 2011
The San Diego City Council voted 6-2 Monday to repeal its own medical marijuana dispensary ordinance rather than put the measure on the ballot that might have cost the city almost $1 million in election and printing costs.
Council President Tony Young and Councilwoman Marti Emerald both said since a successful petition drive brought in enough valid signatures, it should go to the ballot to let the voters decide regardless of the cost.
Councilman David Alvarez made the motion to repeal the ordinance which was seconded by Councilwoman Sherri Lightner. Also voting in favor of repeal were Councilmembers Todd Gloria, Carl DeMaio, Kevin Faulconer and Lori Zapf.
“I didn’t support it because it didn’t go far enough,” said DeMaio. “This is not a victory for either side. It really sets us back.”
DeMaio and Zapf voted against the ordinance on March 28 that was authored by Gloria.
With the repeal, it will be back to no local regulations regarding how medical marijuana collectives can operate. Many supporters of medical marijuana helped get signatures for repeal and the city clerk and county registrar of voters determined there were 31,029 valid signatures on petitions, which represents five percent of registered voters.
The regulations basically put most medical marijuana firms out of business because they had to be only located in light industrial zones and each one had to go through a long police approved conditional use permit process. Dispensaries could not be located within 600 feet of schools, parks, libraries and churches, and had to be operated as nonprofit as specified in the March 28 vote.
“Clearly people do not support this ordinance,” said Alvarez. “I hope we can enact an ordinance that is fair to all people impacted by this.”
“I’m not sure what a vote would tell us,” said Lightner. “It would be like sending up $1 million up in smoke.”
Councilmembers said that while some people signed the petitions because the regulations appeared too strict, others signed because it didn’t go far enough.
Many ailing people spoke about how marijuana increases appetite, especially those with AIDS and how it decreased pain.
Rudy Reyes, who was severely burned in 2003 in the Cedar wildfire, speaks often about the benefits of medical marijuana to control pain. “If you decide to put it on the 2012 election ballot, you’re going to waste a bunch of money,” Reyes told the council.
Many speakers talked about the pros and cons of medical marijuana itself, and Young had to remind them to tailor their remarks about whether the council should repeal the measure or put it on the ballot.
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