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San Diego's Land Use and Housing Committee met on March 24 in the city council committee room on the 12th floor of the administration building to deliberate regulating medical marijuana dispensaries in the city.

On the docket for the day: whether the committee should direct staff to compose an ordinance that would regulate pot shops.

Committee chair, councilmember Todd Gloria, introduced the agenda and then listed some suggestions from his colleagues aimed at bolstering the Medical Marijuana Task Force's recommendation that all dispensary owners obtain a Process 4 permit, which requires that no dispensaries operate within 1000 feet of parks, places of worship, playgrounds, and placing a citywide cap on the number of pot shops.

Two hours of public comment followed Gloria's introduction. Some testified that the restrictions were too harsh; others felt that police should close every dispensary in operation.

Following public comments, the issue went back to the committee.

"I think we should regulate this industry as much as we can," said councilmember Tony Young. "I think there should be a cap. And I also think there should be a moratorium before going any further. The recommendations aren't strong enough. It is a state law, but it is against federal law, and I do recognize federal law."

Councilmember Sherri Lightner made a motion to accept many of the task force's recommendations but to also require that dispensary owners submit proof that they are a nonprofit organization. Lightner's then made a motion to prohibit dispensaries from opening in commercial and residential zones and reiterated lengthening the buffer zone to 1000 feet.

Lightner's motion, seconded by councilmember Kevin Faulconer, passed three votes to one, with Young the only no vote.

City staff will begin work on drafting a citywide ordinance to present to the city council. The city council is expected to hear that ordinance no sooner than 30 days.

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