By Christopher Cadelago / SignOnSanDiego / July 13, 2011
Opponents of new restrictions on medical marijuana dispensaries have qualified a referendum that could force a repeal, the San Diego City Clerk’s Office said Wednesday.
Citizens for Patient Rights, the Patient Care Association and the California Cannabis Coalition turned in 44,106 signatures — 31,029 of which were deemed valid, City Clerk Liz Maland said.
Maland said she’s working with City Council President Tony Young and City Attorney Jan Goldsmith to determine how best to formally bring the matter before the City Council. Council members will then have 10 days to either repeal the ordinance or put the question on the ballot.
In a joint statement, Citizens for Patient Rights and the Patient Care Association said they respectfully urge the council to overturn its land-use restrictions.
“If rescinded, the City Council has a second chance to not only create a new land use ordinance that respects the rights of patients to safe access but also work with the city’s medical cannabis collectives to provide clear guidance fifteen years after the passage of the Compassionate Use Act,” the groups said in a statement issued by their political director. “The PCA looks forward to the day when patients’ rights are protected and the collectives can operate in a clearly defined regulatory environment.”
Under the new ordinances ratified in April, the city’s estimated 160 medical marijuana collectives would have to shutter their storefronts and apply for operating permits. Dispensaries would be limited to some commercial and industrial zones, and must be at least 600 feet from one another as well as schools, playgrounds, libraries, child care and youth facilities, parks and churches.
This year, the council voted to repeal its own rules regulating superstores — stores of 90,000 or more square feet with 10 percent of floor space dedicated to nontaxable items such as groceries and prescription drugs — after Walmart collected enough signatures to force a costly special election.
The controversial ordinance would have required retailers to conduct an economic impact study before receiving a construction permit. That battle has since graduated from City Hall to Sacramento.
It remains unclear how much it would cost to put the medical marijuana restrictions on the ballot, but some council members have said they were more inclined to again repeal their rules rather than foot the bill.