40,000 Signatures in Less than 30 Days

by on May 31, 2011 · 16 comments

in Civil Rights, Health, Popular, San Diego

Referendum on City Council’s Medical Marijuana Ordinance Enters Signature Verification Process

By Eugene Davidovich / Nug Mag / May 26, 2011

In April of this year, the San Diego City Council passed an ordinance that effectively denied safe access to thousands of patients in the city. If left as is, it would have negatively impacted the most vulnerable members of our community by cutting off access to their medicine.

As the ordinance is written, all locations where patients currently safely obtain their medicine, would be forced to shutter their doors and only a small handful would be allowed to open in far flung industrial areas of the City, only after coming into compliance with an onerous year-long conditional use permit process.

The City Council rather than considering amendments to the ordinance suggested by their own medical marijuana task force and thousands of concerned citizens who wrote letters as part of the City’s largest letter writing campaign, on April 12 approved the restrictions and ignored the unprecedented public opposition.

After the City Council’s ordinance took effect at the end of April and with only 30 days to circulate a petition to repeal the ordinance, a group of collective directors quickly organized and formed the Patient Care Association and Citizens for Patient Rights Political Action Committee. Comprised of over 50 local medical marijuana collectives, the association within days raised enough funds to hire the La Jolla Group, a professional signature gathering company, and undertook a massive effort to gather enough signatures to repeal the ordinance through a referendum process.

San Diego Americans for Safe Access (ASA), the local chapter of the nation’s largest medical marijuana patients’ rights advocacy group, provided the association with direction and guidance on messaging as well as an alternative ordinance to propose to voters following the referendum. At the same time ASA’s legal department began to gear up for a lawsuit with the city and on April 28, sent a letter to the City urging them to ease up their restriction or face a challenge in court.

As announced by San Diego ASA on May 4th, the referendum signature drive was underway and in less than 30 days, the La Jolla Group as well as all the collectives involved, gathered over 40,000 signatures, proving yet again the medical marijuana community in San Diego to be a serious political force.

The signatures are expected to be turned in to the City Clerk’s office on Friday, May 26 and will effectively place on hold the overly restrictive ordinance passed by the council from becoming law in the City.

Once the Clerk’s office turns the signatures over to the County’s Registrar of Voters, the verification process will begin and as required by law must be completed within 30 days. If the registrar confirms there are enough valid signatures, the Council will be forced to make a decision; place their overly restrictive ordinance on the ballot for a vote of the people or repeal it at the next available council meeting.

If the City forces the referendum to a vote and decides against repealing the ordinance, depending on the date the signatures are determined valid by the Registrar of Voters, the City may have to call a special election costing millions, or instead place the ordinance on the June 2012 primary ballot for a vote.

As for the effort currently underway by Code Enforcement to shut the existing facilities down, according to the City Attorney’s office, the status quo will be maintained. Landlords will continue to be harassed, patients will continue to face threats of lawsuits and intimidation, and they City Attorney plans on continuing to wage their war on patients. Their official position remains unchanged; the facilities currently operating would still be doing so without a valid business license and with no zoning in the City’s municipal code to allow for their use.

The voting residents of San Diego overwhelmingly support safe and reliable access to medical cannabis for qualified patients in their neighborhood and are against the restrictions approved by the council as well as the effort to shut the existing facilities down. The San Diego community hopes the council will move forward with adopting the recommendations of the Medical Marijuana Task Force and amend the overly restrictive ordinance.

If the City refuses to respect the recommendations of their own task force and continues on the path to shut access down without providing a reasonable alternative, they will face continued litigation and the medical marijuana community plans on quickly moving forward with a voter initiative which would once and for all, create reasonable rules and clarity for patients in the City to follow.

Further Information:

For more information about the Citizens for Patient Rights PAC visit: www.citizens4patientrights.org

SD ASA’s May 4 Announcement about Referendum: http://www.safeaccesssd.org/2011/05/patient-care-association-of-california.html

ASA threatens to sue City of San Diego: http://americansforsafeaccess.org/downloads/San_Diego_Demand_Letter.pdf

City Council Medical Marijuana Ordinance: http://americansforsafeaccess.org/downloads/City_of_San_Diego_Ordinance.pdf

For the latest information on medical marijuana in San Diego visit: www.safeaccesssd.org

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

William W. West May 31, 2011 at 11:52 am

In August of 2009 as another local pro marijuana group, NORML, was in the process of working on a zoning initiative that would force the city to recognize the storefront dispensaries, Davidovich and other ASA board members hit the streets to denounce it.

Don Duncan, founder of Americans for Safe Access, came to San Diego and lobbied for the restrictive permitting that was passed, as he does in city after city. ASA is actually a lobby for the business interests of Duncan. Most of it’s members are not even aware of that fact. The stores Duncan has opened, mostly with restrictive permitting monopoly rake in an estimated 50 million $ or more per year. The core activities have nothing to do with patients or even medical marijuana. It is about sales, and not sales for collectives and cooperatives, but sales for the marijuana monopoly that Duncan is busy creating.

Craig Beresh Founded SoCAL NORML in 2009. His work to unify a community was nearly destroyed as Eugene Davidovich, using Americans For Safe Access power and resources led a smear campaign to destroy this NORML group. A week after succeeding with this smashing of unification, Eugene Davidovich was promoted by the national Americans for Safe Access organization.

Not one to roll over and die, Craig Beresh picked himself back up and founded THE CALIFORNIA CANNABIS COALITION. He barely missed a beat as he continued his work to unify themselves and raise the level of awareness for the need to work within the political system to bring medical cannabis to San Diego.

Finally, a collective directors group was formed. These directors pitched in and raised the necessary money to fund the signature gathering that Craig Beresh has spent months working on.

Demonstrating what true “Unity in the Community” means, Craig Beresh and those who worked with him and could understand the stakes have scored a major victory for medical marijuana in San Diego. The San Diego City Council “restrictive permitting” that Americans For Safe Access founder Don Duncan had lobbied for is NULL AND VOID.

Amazing that Americans for Safe Access Eugene Davidovich would try to take credit for something he worked so hard to destroy. At this time, Davidovich is busy blogging and trying to pretend that he actually had something to do with this great victory. Mindblowing. Not only was him or ASA not involved, these key players did everything they could to destroy any efforts to actually keep collectives in San Diego.

Absolutely mindblowing that Davidovich would actually try to take credit for something he worked so hard to destroy. It is time for national ASA to end this reign of terror and come clean on the fact that ASA was created to further the marijuana monopoly that Don Duncan is working so hard to created with his “restrictive permitting” lobbying activities.

These are facts. See my website for a copy of the email Don Duncan wrote asking Sac city council for a moratorium on dispensaries so he could help them with his “restrictive permitting”. Also on my website are video clips of Don Duncan lobbying in San Diego for the same restrictive permitting.

It’s time for an honest discussion. Let’t put the cards on the table and be honest about the financial and political motivations of those that claim to represent medical marijuana.

William W. West


dave rice June 1, 2011 at 10:23 pm

Disclaimer: I’m posting with neither the benefit of all available facts nor clear mind.

Post: Guys – what the fuck will it take to get us all on the same page? Petty infighting = fail, no way around it. What’s this all about anyway? Is it med-mar versus recreational use?

It’s impossible to argue cannabis has a medicinal purpose. The way I see it, the rift is between those who feel medicine is the only legitimate purpose and those who feel it’s a fully suitable replacement to alcohol as a recreational drug. Is that the beef here?


annagrace May 31, 2011 at 3:15 pm

William- I know nothing about the inner workings of the organizations you mention- ASA, NORML or CCC. If CCC were in the key representation position with the city right now, what would be different in terms of where and how dispensaries operate, or the nature of the strategy to repeal the ordinance. Or is it the fact that CCC does not have that representational power at the moment that concerns you? I understand the differences you are drawing in the differences between ASA and CCC.


OB Mercy May 31, 2011 at 4:37 pm

WTF?!?! I belong to ASA, and you’re right, I’ve never heard any of this stuff about Don Duncan. I better do my homework and start researching all this. If true, once again, I can NOT trust another organized group!


doug porter May 31, 2011 at 4:58 pm

whoa! Maryjane fans. Before you buy into too much of the above anti-ASA invective, you should be aware that there is a long-standing feud going on between the two groups. Lots of allegations have been made. None have been proven.
As an interested observer who’s written plenty on the subject (try http://obrag.org/?p=23558 or my five part series here: http://obrag.org/?p=22891) I have to say that the above ramblings represent the best arguments that I’ve seen against legalizing the stuff. I mean, if it makes ya that paranoid, why would ya want to do it?


JBurger May 31, 2011 at 7:14 pm

Thank you William West. Your post explains a lot.

After the ASA organized the ridiculous “sit-in” in the city council chambors and taunted the council members, I told Davidovich that I thought their antics were childish and counter productive to the cause. He blew me off and told me not to “belly-ache” about it.

I wrote the ASA headquarters and told them I would no longer financially contribute to the ASA any longer:

These clowns, including the local San Diego chapter of ASA, set-back the MMJ movement by years,
by the way they acted at the council meeting. And SD-ASA is taking credit for these stunts.

Cat-calling at the council meeting, having a “sit-in”. Just ridiculously STUPID behavior that perpetuates the “stoner” image of medical marijuana.

Someone needs to get these local ASA idiots in-line. I am embarrassed to be further associated with these morons, and I will no longer donate any money to ASA, unless we get some big changes to our local chapter.

I received this response:

Sorry you do not agree with the tactics used by the San Diego chapter of ASA. Civil disobedience has long been a tool in our activist toolbox at ASA, and social movements have often successfully used similar disruptive tactics. Lobbying, media work, base building, education, and civil disobedience are all part of our multifaceted campaign to win safe access. Have you tried speaking to the chapter about your specific concerns? Perhaps you can get involved in some of the local strategy discussions. You can reach the head of the SD chapter at .

End of story. I will not be supporting the “ASA cause” any further, because the local chapter is embarrassing!


butch June 1, 2011 at 7:11 am

It seems with all of the infighting between these two organized groups, it would be next to impossible to work towards the same goal.

Does anybody remember how to compromise to get things accomplished, or is America too completely polarized?

(My impression anyway. I really don’t know a thing about these groups, but would like to see MMJ restrictions eased.)


dave rice June 1, 2011 at 10:34 pm

Dave ‘liked’ this.


Todd June 1, 2011 at 7:42 am

I am an organizer for the Patients Care Association of California. We worked very closely with California Cannabis Coalition to get the signatures needed for the referendum. When we asked San Diego ASA to help us with the referendum. They wanted us to give them all the money and they would attempt to do it. The 70 San Diego collectives within our group voted to do the referendum using Lajolla Group. That was the last we heard from San Diego Americans for Safe Access. They did not write about the referendum, they did not help gather signatures nor did they donate to help us. The Nug Mag had interview us last month and was nice enough to give us less than a paragraph it the magazine and did not post anything on their web site. Both ASA and Nug Mag did not get involved. . Strange how a medical marijuana group (ASA) and magazine (Nug) did not support the San Diego Marijuana community.


Eugene Davidovich June 1, 2011 at 10:40 am

Todd, Thank you for the great work you did (as an organizer) on the referendum. This was a huge victory for the entire community. I don’t believe we have ever met, and I don’t recall seeing you at the 4 meetings that members of SD ASA and members of the PCA board held together, and I also do not recall seeing you at the board meeting that was held where both the PCA and SD ASA had a quorum, met, and discussed ASA’s involvement. We provided the association with a report as well as a fully written ballot initiative, a list of messaging to use for the referendum, as well as posted about it on the ASA website (as linked in the above article). Your accusation that “When we asked San Diego ASA to help us with the referendum. They wanted us to give them all the money and they would attempt to do it”. Is simply not accurate and is not based on reality. Ask members of the PCA board and they will tell you that we were very clear from the start that a group of volunteers did not have the resources to accomplish an effort of this magnitude and that a professional organizing group (Canvass for a Cause, La Jolla Group, etc..) would be a much better source for the signature gathering. This is why we provided the group with the ASA ballot initiative in the hopes that this would be what they followed up with. While the group was working on signature gathering, we have been focused on Stop the Ban Oceanside, Stop the Ban Imperial Beach as well as many other projects and efforts that our group of VOLUNTEERS is involved in.

Doug, just to clarify…there has never been a back and forth. ALL the accusations and attacks have been from a very small group of non-strategic vocal activists that are intent on creating divisiveness and hate in the community. I hope they stop the nonsense and focus on the cause. One thing you will NEVER see from us is a back and forth. We will as we have always, maintain professionalism, the mission, and continue to try to create permanent protections for patients in this City and County.

ALL – Instead of focusing on the non-strategic folks trying to create divisiveness in the community, I urge you STAY UNITED, ignore the haters, and please take a moment to oppose SB 847 today. ASA’s Online Action Center makes it easy to find your Senator and send a message right now. This bill if passed would restrict patient access across the state: http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/182/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=6927


Eugene Davidovich


Terrie Best June 1, 2011 at 8:04 pm

I’m a board member of San Diego Americans for Safe Access. We are a group of volunteers with professional backgrounds who believe in the therapeutic use of cannabis and seek to further that by working with the largest group of patient advocates in the nation, Americans for Safe Access, as a local chapter.

If anybody has questions about what SDASA has accomplished in the short year and a half this board has been organized please go to our website: http://www.SafeAcessSD.org.

There you will find a laundry list of projects and successes including raid trainings, court support, certified legal trainings, events, media outreach, letter writing campaigns and an untold amount of news articles and video news briefs on patients, court cases, and government and police obstacles to local cannabis concerns.

All of our efforts are grassroots and we have the benefit of working with some of the most brilliant activists in the state and this nation: Don Duncan, Steph Sherer, Caren Woodson and Joe Elford (to name a few), who together, recently published an activist handbook, The Medical Cannabis Advocate’s Handbook, one of the most comprehensive works on community organizing I have ever seen.

Americans for Safe Access is a force for change and our local chapter is one of the biggest and best in the nation. We welcome all questions and we run with total transparency. Our meetings are held monthly in all four corners of the county and we have a calendar of events on our website.

For the record I was one of those who, after many hours of training in effective civil action, stood arm in arm with several others at City Hall and shared a kin-ship with every other American who has ever been oppressed by government. It was one of the most poignant moments of my life and I don’t regret it and never will. The message that activists are willing to give up our freedom for this cause came through loud and clear that night.


William W. West June 1, 2011 at 8:37 pm

See TheWeedlyNews.com to see behind the mask.

The reality is far different than the illusion. Every statement below is backed up by audio, video, or document on my site.

This chapter is NOT a non-profit, although they solicit funds as if they are.

They have repeatedly stolen or taken credit for the work of others.

The leaders have strategically organized assaults which have been caught on tape.

This group is a LOBBY for the financial interests of it’s founder Don Duncan who can be seen throughout my blog lobbying for RESTRICTIVE PERMITTING

This group is run like a cult, encouraging members to never look beyond their local group, to misunderstand the law in order to use people to create a ruckus and then to
trick city councils across the state into thinking
“they need Don Duncan’s restrictive permitting model (with him as the beneficiary) to provide “”safe access”” for patients.

Want proof – Videos are on my page of ASA Founder Don Duncan asking for RESTRICTIVE PERMITTING

Emails from Don Duncan asking for “MORATORIUM ON DISPENSARIES”

The stunt of trying to act like 4 year olds throwing a tantrum at city council was not well received by those in the mmj community. 5 ASA member wrote a published “manifesto” and tried their best to get arrested. The police officer laughed.
Tony Young stated accurately, “you guys are not helping your cause”. He was correct.

Further, many out in this community have worked tirelessly on getting signatures for this referendum as well as a zoning initiative, which was lobbied against intensely by ASA.

It is a real shame that this group would actually try to step in and take any credit for something they tried so hard to thwart.

William W. West
TheWeedlyNews – San Diego Cannabis Expert, ASA member/photographer/videographer 2004-2010


Jerry Burger June 7, 2011 at 8:42 am

Well Put Mr. West!

I too, took um-bridge with the ASA’s childish tactics at the city council meetings.
When I contacted the national ASA about it, they blew me off, as did Eugene Davidovich. Mr. Davidovich paints everyone that disagrees with his tactics with the same brush.

ASA lost my support, including financial, when they started all their stupid shenanigans. Way to set the movement back ASA!


SD Caregiver June 4, 2011 at 1:02 pm

The City Attorney’s job is PROTECT the consumers from litigation. Why is it backwards here in San Diego??

I am a Collective Director who is involved in PCA and can say that ASA representatives that tried to “show up” to the meetings weren’t even allowed to participate because of the antics they pulled at the City Council meeting. To read this article and see ASA try to take credit for the work done by CCC and PCA is just sickening.

While the La Jolla Group and the Collectives in PCA did everything they could to gather signatures, I read articles in the news about ASA focusing on other cities (Oceanside, IB, etc.) instead. We had 30 days to get a good amount of signatures, where was ASA during that time?

At first, I wanted to believe we’re all in this together. Unfortunately, it’s not the case. Greed and politics go hand in hand, and the cannabis culture will have to deal with it.


Ben Cisneros June 8, 2011 at 10:56 am

My name is Ben Cisneros, I was one of the regional field directors for the Prop 19 campaign, an organizer on the Stop the Ban campaign, and one of the participants in the civil disobedience at the second reading of the ordinance at the City Council meeting.

First off, big thanks to the PCA for funding this major signature gathering effort. Financial support always makes activism easier and the referendum campaign has served to raise a lot of awareness about San Diego’s war on cannabis patients.

I’m distressed however to see such negativity aimed at ASA. I am not a member of ASA, but I can say definitively that nobody in San Diego has worked harder or more strategically on the issue of cannabis than Eugene Davidovich and no organization has done more for cannabis patients in San Diego than ASA has over the years.

When I first began working on the Prop 19 campaign there were two groups that stepped up and offered guidance and assistance – Canvass for a Cause and San Diego ASA. Both groups allowed San Diego to have one of the most active field campaigns in the State and both have my gratitude.

If you are interested in getting involved on behalf of medical cannabis patients, I highly recommend attending an ASA meeting. Don’t let the non strategic “haters” distract you. The “in-fighting” is overstated in the community. Working on the issue of medical cannabis and patient’s rights in San Diego is rewarding and working with Eugene Davidovich, Terrie Best, and the rest of San Diego ASA has been a truly inspiring experience for me.

Thank you Eugene, Terrie, and the rest of San Diego ASA for all of your hard work, sacrifice, and determination.


Craig Beresh October 3, 2011 at 10:25 am

I agree with Todd. San Diego ASA and The Nug mag did not help with the referendum in any form. They only wrote about after it was completed. They have attempted to take credit for something they had nothing to do.


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