As cities rush to restrict medical marijuana before a March 1 state deadline, it turns out there’s no hurry. The date was an error. An emergency bill to strike the deadline should reach the governor this month, giving cities more time to draft their rules.
According to a press release from assemblyman Jim Wood, who adopted the bill, the current deadline is “not nearly enough time” for jurisdictions to study the industry and write good policy.
What had cities hustling is a new law, the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act, that gives cities a deadline to draft their own rules on delivery and cultivation — or be subject to the state’s pot policy. Those rules are still being shaped, but cities, fearing they’ll be too lax, jumped.
Coronado, for one, declined to consider delivery rules in December when it passed a ban on dispensaries, cultivation, and deliveries, citing the looming March deadline. “Naturally we want to respond well ahead of that so that we don’t lose our chance as a city to make decisions on this issue,” mayor Casey Tanaka said.
At the city council meeting, resident Charles Crehore asked if the ordinance would prohibit medical marijuana delivery. While few oppose banning dispensaries or grow facilities, he suggested, people are concerned about being able to have it delivered. Residents with various ailments, including military veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, now rely on delivery, he said.
Also, police chief Jon Froomin had suggested delivery regulations, such as restricting delivery times to 7 a.m.-7 p.m., prohibiting advertising on delivery vans, and keeping a log of deliveries.
On January 5, when the Coronado city council adopted the ban, some new language was added saying it was the “intent of the city not to prohibit the delivery or transport of medical marijuana to qualified patients, provided the delivery or transport is unrelated to any commercial cannabis activities.”
According to a 2010 grand jury report on medical marijuana in San Diego, many dispensaries operate outside the law. Another finding was that a lack of zoning and land use ordinances for regulating cooperatives and collectives that distribute medical pot in Coronado and seven other cities “deprives some qualified patients of access to marijuana in their communities.”
Only the city of San Diego has opened the door to medical cannabis. While its zoning ordinance doesn’t address medical marijuana delivery, the city now has more than 100 delivery services.
Meanwhile, other cities aren’t slowing down to “study the industry,” deadline or not. On January 12, Poway will be next to introduce a ban, one that also targets mobile pot dispensaries within the city.