For years, medical marijuana advocates have urged San Diego city officials to establish clear guidelines on the rights of medical marijuana patients. They lobbied the city for regulations on medical marijuana collectives and asked them to define the relationship of the city's police force with the local cooperatives, all with little success.
Yet, at the July 29 meeting of the Public Safety and Neighborhood Services Committee, many of those requests were answered when the committee deliberated on the issue of medical marijuana and the establishment of a citizen's task force to help create guidelines for the implementation of the program.
"Our commitment [is to] protect the integrity of California's law and the will of [the state's] voters," said councilmember Marti Emerald, chair of the Public Safety and Neighborhood Services Committee. "We need to protect the integrity of the medical marijuana program."
During Emerald's introduction, the district 7 councilmember commented on the problems created from the county's lawsuit against medical marijuana law. "We have a storm brewing in our city...brought mostly because of the irresponsible behavior of the County of San Diego, which decided to spend years and thousands of taxpayer dollars to undermine the will of the voters.
"Rather than do their constitutional duty, the county threw this entire process into chaos. And now we get to sort it out and deal with the real issue while the county continues to hide its head in the sand."
The meeting, however, was not without its buzz kills.
"The mayor's office isn't opposed to the council creating an advisory task force for the council," said a mayoral staff member. "As it relates to participating on or staffing the task force, that is not something that the mayor would support."
As the committee discovered, establishing an effective task force without the mayor's participation would be a task in itself. Without the mayor's approval, representatives from the City's planning, police, and development services departments will all be unable to be fully engaged in the dialogue.
"[If] the mayor is not participating, and none of the departments are participating...it will be difficult," said district 4 councilmember Tony Young. "And that concerns me."
Despite the setback, the committee unanimously agreed to compose an 11-member medical marijuana task force, including those with backgrounds in community planning, social services, as patients of medical marijuana, legal and medical experts, and owners of medical marijuana collectives.
Added Emerald after the vote was taken: "We will send a message to the president of the council to expedite the docketing, so that we can get on this...as soon as possible."