|Just more than 1,000 valid signatures are needed for November’s ballot, but organizers plan to turn in 2,000 to make sure|
Advocates Begin Circulating Petitions To Overturn City’s Ban On Safe Access To Medicinal Cannabis
A team of community activists on Friday converged in Imperial Beach, California, and began circulating a petition and gathering signatures to place the Safe Access Ordinance of Imperial Beach on the November general election ballot.
If passed, the measure would overturn Imperial Beach’s current ban on safe access to medical marijuana and replace it with reasonable zoning regulations and operational requirements for medical cannabis dispensing collectives and cooperatives wishing to operate in the city.
The Imperial Beach City Council began working on this issue two years ago when Marcus Boyd, vice chair of San Diego Americans for Safe Access and local business owner in Imperial Beach, brought the issue to them at a council meeting.
At that time, the city denied Boyd’s request for a business license and adopted a temporary moratorium, promising to conduct research and return a reasonable ordinance in just a few months.
Two years later, instead of adopting an ordinance that allows safe access, the city approved an outright ban on collectives.
|San Diego ASA|
|Rachel Scoma, Canvass for a Cause: “Legitimate patients deserve safe and reasonable access to their medicine”|
In the weeks leading up to the vote, the Imperial Beach Patch conducted an analysis of crime in and around the area of existing dispensaries in South San Diego, and found that there was no increase in crime — in fact, there was a decrease!
In addition, hundreds of letters signed by Imperial Beach residents were sent to the council urging them to adopt sensible regulations instead of the ban, and dozens of patients and citizens came out and voiced their opposition directly to the council members at their meetings.
Still, the council voted to ban.
One of the more notable advocates for patients’ rights to voice opposition to the ban was Congressman Brian Milbray’s daughter, Brianna Bilbray, who is a cancer survivor and medical cannabis patient.
After years of lobbying, writing letters, and attending city council meetings, the medical marijuana community was left with no choice but to take their plea directly to the voters.
|San Diego ASA|
The Safe Access Ordinance of Imperial Beach, a collaborative effort between Canvass for a Cause, Americans for Safe Access, and concerned citizens in Imperial Beach, was filed with the City Clerk’s office on March 5. Within 15 days, as required by state law, the clerk returned a “Title and Summary” prepared by the Imperial Beach City Attorney for the proposed measure.
Even though the California election code requires the city attorney give a true and impartial statement — one not likely to create prejudice for or against the proposed measure — the summary written by the Imperial Beach City Attorney was anything but true and impartial, according to advocates.
In fact, the summary was a clear attempt to misrepresent and misinform the voters reading it, “in line with their tactics of doing all they can to derail safe access efforts in the city,” Safe Access IB said in a press release.
Although the law does allow for a legal challenge to be introduced against the wording provided by the city in the form of a “Writ of Mandate,” the decision was made to move forward with the signature gathering effort and avoid costly and lengthy litigation in order to not to delay any further the gathering of signatures.
On March 22, in order to satisfy yet another legal requirement, the “Title and Summary,” along with the text of the entire initiative, was published in the Imperial Beach Eagle and Times, finally allowing the signature effort to legally commence.
Just more than 1,000 valid signatures are required to place the measure on the ballot. The campaign’s goal, however, is to gather at least 2,000 valid signatures to ensure there are enough to qualify.
Activists collected more than 70 signatures in less than three hours on Friday, the first day the petition was circulated. Although Saturday and Sunday were rainy and cold, several signature gatherers still spread throughout the city, talking to voters.
“The effort will continue daily until at least 2,000 signatures are gathered,” Safe Access IB said.
To keep track and provide accurate reporting on the funds raised and expenditures incurred in support of the ordinance, the “Support Safe Access to Medical Marijuana Ordinance of Imperial Beach, California, Sponsored by Canvass for a Cause, with help from Americans for Safe Access and its local chapters” Political Action Committee (PAC) was organized.
“Legitimate patients deserve safe and reasonable access to their medicine,” said Rachel Scoma, co-executive director of Canvass for a Cause and treasurer of the new PAC. “Right now, HIV/AIDS and other seriously ill patients are being criminalized for use of their medicine as a direct result of local government officials.
“We need to ensure that seriously ill residents in Imperial Beach can obtain and use cannabis for medical purposes in accordance with California law,” Scoma said.
For more information, you can visit the Safe Access IB campaign website; you can also learn the permanent locations where Imperial Beach residents can sign the initiative.