On September 8, the city council met to discuss forming a medical marijuana task force. The task force would be responsible for hashing out details on ways the City should administer the drug to patients. Pro-marijuana activists, opponents of medical marijuana, and patients prescribed the drug filled council chambers. All sides were represented except for the San Diego Police Department, the City's Development Services Department, and Mayor Jerry Sanders's office.
Tuesday's meeting wasn't the first time Mayor Sanders blew off talks about forming a medical marijuana task force. On July 29, when the Public Safety and Neighborhood Services committee discussed creating a task force to establish land-use guidelines for dispensaries to operate under, a member of Mayor Sanders's staff informed the committee that no representatives from the mayor's office or any department under his authority would participate in discussions concerning medical marijuana.
"It seems rather odd that the police department wouldn't be here to answer questions and support this undertaking," said councilmember Carl DeMaio from the dais during the September 8 city council meeting. "If I'm going to cast a vote on whether we should be exploring any changes to the way the city is implementing the medical marijuana program, as mandated by the voters of California, as outlined by the attorney general, I would expect to have the police department here answering any questions and advising us.
"For this city council to proceed forward without the advice from our police department, without the support of our police department, it probably dooms this effort from the beginning and probably makes this a waste of time and a waste of money."
Currently, the city has no zoning requirements for dispensaries. And although the city has unofficially suspended giving out any new business licenses to dispensary owners, new stores are cropping up throughout the city. It is estimated that of the 40 or so medical marijuana dispensaries that operate citywide, only eight have received business licenses from the City's Developmental Services Department.
After public testimony was given, the council voted in favor of creating a medical marijuana task force. Council president Ben Hueso was absent and councilmember DeMaio opposed the measure.
Nominees for the 11-person medical marijuana task force comprised medical marijuana patients, community planners, legal professionals, and dispensary owners. The final task force will be selected by each council district and is expected by mid December to appear before the city council with recommendations on how the City should regulate medical marijuana dispensaries.