One week after the San Diego County Board of Supervisors conducted a two-hour hearing on an ordinance that regulates medical marijuana dispensaries in unincorporated areas of San Diego County, supervisors returned to the dais on June 30 for final approval of a new ordinance that would restrict pot stores from opening within 1000 feet of schools, churches, playgrounds, and residential areas and requires that operators pay $20,000 to the Sheriff's department to cover the added inspection and verification requirements needed to become licensed.
Proponents of medicinal marijuana objected to the regulations, claiming the new ordinance essentially banishes the pot shops to the backcountry and impedes patient's access to their medicine.
After public comment, county staff commented on the allegations that the restrictions are another way to impose a moratorium on dispensaries.
"There have also been several claims of a 'de facto ban' and that the sites that we identified are not viable," said one county staffer before presenting satellite images of the permitted sites.
The slides showed images of industrial sites in Alpine near Interstate 8 and in industrial areas located outside Borrego, Julian, near a mining operation in Lakeside, and one in Campo. Several slides prompted chuckles from the crowd. In all, ten locations were shown to the board of supervisors.
"Our obligation is to identify an adequate number of sites and that those sites have reasonable access," said deputy director of planning and land use Jeff Murphy after staff's presentation. "We feel that these sites meet that criteria. We feel the industrial zones’ limits provide protection for the community. County counsel feels that this is a legally defensible ordinance."
Before county supervisors voted on the issue, supervisor Ron Roberts commented on the ordinance. "Yeah, after seeing that presentation...I am more convinced than ever that what we are doing is the wrong thing."
Roberts's statement was interrupted by applause from the crowd. County supervisors then voted on the ordinance. It passed 4 to 1, with Roberts the only one opposed.