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Mayor Bob Filner's goal to improve access for patients in need of "compassionate use of medical marijuana throughout San Diego" just may be achieved if city councilmembers agree to adopt the Mayor's draft medical marijuana ordinance at a council hearing on March 25.

On Friday, Lee Burdick, the administration's Director of Legal Affairs and Special Projects, sent a summary of the ordinance to stakeholders to review.

The proposed initiative looks to ease the restrictions enacted in the previous ordinance adopted by council, and later repealed, in January 2011. It does so by opening zones that were previously off limits to dispensary owners as well as allow more competition between medical marijuana storefronts so that "patients can find the strain they need to alleviate their symptoms and to improve the quality of their lives."

Under the mayor's ordinance, dispensary owners would no longer need a Conditional Use Permit to sell medical cannabis. Instead, operators would only need to obtain a Neighborhood Use Permit issued by City staff. Operators would no longer be forced to keep their distance from churches, libraries, and childcare facilities. Separation requirements from schools, however, would remain and dispensares could not go in any building or mixed-use development where residential units are located. Medical marijuana vending machines would also be prohibited citywide.

Another major change listed in the draft ordinance is the enactment of a two-percent excise tax on all medical marijuana sales. In addition to the excise tax, dispensary operators would be responsible to pay $5,000 permit fee to the City of San Diego each and every year its doors are open.

Of course, the city council has the authority to make any changes it deems necessary. Burdick was sure to inform the stakeholders responsible for drafting the ordinance of that possibility.

"As before, there is absolutely no guarantee that Council will approve these zones or pass the ordinance, so any investment your constituents make prior to the passage of a final approved ordinance is at risk of loss or potential law enforcement," reads Burdick's email.

"Also...it is possible the Council might continue this item from the agenda on the 25th in favor of another more urgent item that is subject to a deadline. That has not happened yet, but it might at the discretion of Council President [Todd Gloria]."

Visit the website for San Diego Chapter of Americans for Safe Access to read the executive summary.

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laplayaheritage March 17, 2013 @ 12:06 p.m.

In another act of compassion, Saturday morning Mayor Bob Filner announced that the City of San Diego will not be taking the Winter Emergency Shelter tent down at the end of the Fiscal Year. Instead the Tent will be funding year round.

Praise the Lord and Hallelujah for our new Strong Mayor Filner.


DaveP March 17, 2013 @ 3:02 p.m.

The draft ordinance requires a Neighborhood Use Permit, which is a discretionary permit, not ministerial. The decision will be made by staff and not a Hearing Officer. And the decision can be appealed to the Planning Commission.


Dorian Hargrove March 18, 2013 @ 5:26 a.m.

Thanks for the help, DaveP! Story has been revised.


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