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Inside the auditorium at the Metropolitan Wastewater Operations Center in Kearny Mesa, community planners from across the city gathered for the February 23 meeting of the Community Planning Committee to discuss the issue of medical marijuana dispensaries.

After 45 minutes of public testimony and committee discussion, the committee continued the agenda item until all neighborhood-planning groups have submitted motions to either reject or accept the medical marijuana task force's recommendations.

Of the 43 planning groups that comprise the Community Planners Committee, 23 have submitted motions revealing their stance on pot shops. Of those 23, Tierrasanta and Pacific Beach planning groups rejected the task force recommendations outright, giving no reason for opposing marijuana marts from cropping up in their neighborhoods. La Jolla's planning group also declined to accept the recommendations, feeling the 500-foot distance between storefronts was insufficient.

In addition to the three communities opposed to pot shops operating in their neighborhoods, six others refuse to vote on the issue. Those six community planning groups are Torrey Hills, Mission Valley, Rancho Penasquitos, Sabre Springs, Rancho Bernardo, and City Heights, which declined to take a vote but "supports a system that provides access by patients who have a legal prescription and reasonable preventatives against any who do not have a legal prescription."

As for those communities that did pass motions in support of the task force recommendations, nearly all were laced with additional suggestions, such as the suggestions from College Area Planning Group to limit the number of dispensaries to one per council district, to apply an annual fee for all dispensaries, and to require that all collectives get approval from their local community planning group before the city grants any permits. Other suggestions, such as the one from the Downtown Planning Group, included lengthening the distance between dispensaries to 1000 feet and asking that dispensary owners undergo background checks.

Out of the bunch, Serra Mesa's planning committee was the only group that supported the task force recommendations as is.

In March, the issue over dispensary regulations will come back to the Community Planning Committee when the remaining planning groups will be given the opportunity to reject or accept the recommendations from the medical marijuana task force. Those planning groups that have already docketed the item for March are: Normal Heights, North Bay, Otay Nestor, and Skyline/Paradise Hill. After all planning group motions have been received, they will be forwarded to the city council for a vote, the first the March 24 Land Use and Housing Committee meeting.

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