By John Langeler / FOX 5 San Diego / June 24, 2011
San Diego’s controversial restrictions on medical marijuana cooperatives could be reversed next week.
The San Diego County Registrar is expected to certify over 31,000 signatures collected by medical marijuana supporters that oppose the ordinance. That would force the city council to make a decision; end the ordinance and start over, or put it to the voters.
“This is an important issue,” explained San Diego Councilman David Alvarez, who opposed the March restrictions. “I thought we could get to a point where people would find some common ground. It’s a very heated issue.”
In March, City Council members approved an ordinance that limits medical marijuana dispensaries to light industrial and commercial areas at least 600 feet from schools and churches. Supporters said it was a way to control a problematic situation. Medical marijuana advocates called it far too restrictive and promised to fight back. The petition drive was their response.
“Get that out,” said Craig Barash of the California Cannibis Coalition, “Get something that will work for the city, the patients and the citizens and get something going here in the city.”
Most City Council members declined to speak about this issue Thursday afternoon, preferring to wait until early next week when the signatures are expected to be certified. Councilwoman Marti Emerald reiterated her support of the more restrictive ordinance, saying it is fair and provides a balance. She also suggested the people that gathered the signatures were out for their own business interests and not the patients’.
The main concern from city officials is what would happen if the council decided to put the issue to voters. A special election could cost $3 million. Alvarez supports rescinding the ordinance and starting over.
“We either should do it in a way that’s organized and that we as the city can regulate, or you’re going to have a rogue show,” said Alvarez.