Activists: San Diego Pot Dispensary Ordinance Is ‘A Ban’

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Graphic: San Diego News Network

​Tough new proposed medical marijuana dispensary rules would make it almost impossible to open and operate dispensaries anywhere in unincorporated San Diego County, according to cannabis activists.

Under a proposed ordinance released for public review this month, medical marijuana dispensaries would be banned within 1,000 feet of residences, schools, playgrounds, parks, churches, and recreational centers, as well as other dispensaries.
That rule would eliminate all but a handful of the unincorporated areas of the county, according to county documents, reports Edward Sifuentes at North County Times.


Photo: Eugene Davidovich
Eugene Davidovich: “It is, effectively, a ban”

​”It is, effectively, a ban,” said medical marijuana advocate Eugene Davidovich, spokesman for San Diego Americans for Safe Access (ASA).
The ordinance also includes other requirements that patient advocates say would violate privacy rules, such as handing over patient lists and security videotapes to law enforcement officers.
Members of the public may comment on the draft ordinance until Friday, April 2. The county planning commission has a tentative hearing scheduled for May 14.
Among other restrictions, the ordinance requires that:
• Transactions are “fully visible from the public street”
• Video cameras are installed
• Video recordings are “accessible to law enforcement”
• Transaction records and membership records are kept
• Transaction, membership and other records are “available for inspection by the Sheriff’s Department”
• Glass will be shatterproof
• Sprinkler systems are present
• A uniformed security guard is present
• Business hours between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.
Joe Farace, a county planning manger in charge of formulating the ordinance, claimed the regulations are in place to make sure collectives comply with state law.
The ordinance was written within the planning department, with recommendations — evidently lots of them! — from the San Diego Sheriff’s Department and the county attorney, according to Farace.
Advertising or signs would be banned in front of dispensaries, and nobody under age 18 would be allowed into the establishments without a parent, doctor or guardian.
Last year, after spending years unsuccessfully fighting California’s 1996 medical marijuana law all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, the Board of Supervisors imposed a moratorium on dispensaries while officials developed an ordinance to regulate the shops.
After being beaten at every step of the process (and spending untold thousands of taxpayer dollars in the futile, doomed attempt to thwart the will of the voters), the board finally agreed to implement the state’s medical marijuana ID program, and began writing the ordinance to “regulate” marijuana collectives.
Many medical marijuana advocates say they’d rather the county health department — not the sheriff’s department — be in charge of overseeing dispensaries, since they will in fact be servicing patients and not criminals.
“It’s bad enough having an agency accessing information about patients, but to have that information accessible to law enforcement is extremely problematic,” said Kris Hermes, spokesman for ASA in Oakland.
County authorities, who raided and shut down 14 dispensaries last September, have shown little interest in regulating the shops and are focused only on stamping them out, according to local medical marijuana advocates.
To comment on the proposed ordinance, call 858-694-3690 or email joseph.farace@sdcounty.ca.gov.
The proposed ordinance is available for review here (PDF).
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