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Proponents and patients of medical marijuana in San Diego will finally get a chance to voice support for a new ordinance that clears the way for medical marijuana dispensaries to open in the City.

On Monday, April 22, the City Council will discuss a draft medical marijuana ordinance from the Mayor's Office.

The new ordinance opens the door for dispensaries to open in all community commercial and light industrial zones throughout the City. By doing so, the Mayor believes that patients will have more access while at the same time preventing dispensaries from opening up in residential zones.

A previous ordinance, adopted back in March 2011 law, was repealed by city councilmembers after patients obtained enough signatures to force the council into either placing the item on a ballot or repealing the ordinance. They chose the latter.

The new ordinance differs from the previous in by opening additional zones up, by easing permit requirements, and eliminates the distance requirements from churches, libraries, and day-care facilities.

On Monday, city councilmembers will give direction to the City Attorney's Office to draft the ordinance. Among the directives the City Attorney will seek guidance on are requirements that patients carry State-issued identification cards, an annual $5,000 permit fee for dispensary owners, a two-percent excise tax on all medical marijuana purchases, and whether to place a ban on pot vending machines.

Some councilmembers have suggested that in order to implement a new law, the old and current law needs to be addressed.

On April 2, councilmember Marti Emerald requested that the council and City Attorney's Office need to revisit enforcement before moving on to a new ordinance.

"A significant aspect of Ordinance 0-20043 yet to be resolved is which City Department(s) will be responsible for enforcing its provisions. I respectfully request that this be a topic for discussion when Mayor Filner's medical marijuana proposal is heard by the City Council. While the medical marijuana regulations in Chapter 4 of the SDMC may not be perfect and, like any rule, may be modified, I believe these regulations effectively address many of the important issues related to regulating medical marijuana in San Diego, and should remain part of the City's legislation on the topic. Any land use regulations regarding medical marijuana should be consistent with and complement SDMC Ch. 4, Art. 2, Div. 13 and Ch. 4, Art. 2, Div. 15."

Advocacy groups appear content that the issue was back in discussion.

""We want there to be access in San Diego City. However, we also want operators to behave in a responsible manner, where the patients and public can feel safe and respected. Mayor Filner's proposal provides both access to patients and enhanced safety to the community," read the statement from Ken Cole from the United Patients’ Alliance.

"We look forward for to the day when Cancer, MS, Aids, and all severe pain patients can have regulated access to affordable, natural, cannabis medicine in San Diego City and, thanks to Mayor Filner, this day may soon come."

Click on the link below to read the staff reports and other agenda items:

http://dockets.sandiego.gov/sirepub/pubmtgframe.aspx?meetid=1762&doctype=Agenda

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