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Medi-pot task force gets rolling

October 10, 2009 - 5:19 pm

The city of San Diego’s Medical Marijuana Task Force held its inaugural meeting Friday before a packed audience at City Hall – although noticeably absent from the meeting were representatives of the mayor’s office, local police department and county District Attorney’s office.

Task force chairman Alex Kreit, an assistant professor at the Thomas Jefferson School of Law and director of its Center for Law and Social Justice, said he’d extended an invitation to a District Attorney representative, but the offer was declined.

Craig Beresh, president of the newly formed Southern California chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), expressed disappointment that the city’s top political leader and law enforcement officials are avoiding a role in the conversation.

“Why aren’t the mayor and police showing up for these meetings?” Beresh asked after Friday’s meeting. “They’re an integral part of this, and they need to be involved. They weren’t involved in the City Council meeting when it came down to voting for the task force itself [on Sept. 8], and then the next day the raids came. So, it doesn’t seem like the city is all working together.”

Mayoral spokesperson Rachel Laing recently offered this terse explanation, suggesting Sanders opposed the council’s formation of the task force:

“If you want to point fingers at the people who are harming safe access to medical marijuana, I’d point out that it was not the mayor who created an unnecessary extra process to resolve the issue,” Laing snapped. “The mayor’s position on this is that there is not adequate zoning for medical marijuana cooperatives. A process already exists to resolve inadequate zoning.”

Kelly Broughton, the city’s director of development services, issued an 11th-hour memo to the task force arguing that “medical marijuana cooperatives or collectives do not fall within any existing Land Development Code use category or subcategory.”

Broughton noted that a recent cooperative applicant has challenged that assessment and requested that the city’s Planning Commission weigh in on the issue. The memo did not mention when the challenge would be docketed for commission consideration.

The much-publicized Sept. 9 crackdown on 14 medical-marijuana collectives countywide – including 11 within San Diego city borders – has added extra urgency and focus on the role of this task force.

By year’s end, the San Diego City Council is expected to consider land-use and zoning recommendations drawn up by the task force. What approach this panel takes is still an open question, although several members seemed to agree that a conditional-use-permit process might hold promise.

Kreit provided to task-force members examples of land-use ordinances considered by other cities, including Los Angeles, Santa Rosa and Anaheim. None seemed to excite the imagination of a majority of the 11-member panel.

Mark-Robert Bluemel, a local attorney who has represented medical-marijuana patients, called the current trend of moratoriums imposed by other cities “the ostrich way — stick your head in the sand and hope it goes away.” 

Beresh said his organization will be providing regulations from other cities at a future meeting – the task force is scheduled to meet again next Friday as well as Oct. 22 and 30, with a final meeting Nov. 6. All meetings run from 9 to 11 a.m. on the 12th floor of City Hall, 202 C Street.

“There are other communities that have good situations going that need to be looked at as well,” Beresh told CityBeat.

Since the raids, Beresh said cooperative operators and patients “feel intimidated and betrayed, because a good number of them want to be told what to do. They want to run a proper business. And they don’t feel the city is really working with them to try to do that.

“Granted, there are some bad apples out there, but the good majority of these collectives are run by people who are trying to do things right and legally. Those are the kind of places we want to see around. The guerilla warfare tactics? We don’t need that.”

2 Comments leave one →
  1. chronicalbit permalink
    November 10, 2009 - 1:40 am 1:40 am

    what bonni dumanis is doing is stong arm and raccateering.Valuable tax revenue continuse to be swindled by hr as sh paves the limelight for marijuanna by putting it under fire as if it were someman made drug she learned all about as she knows caus all of a sudden she has a phd in medicine and despite all the medical doccumnted reports and medical information that in fact all this medical accumulated data iswrong and it is not a medicine thowe openly addmits its a drug well ive no phd but seems to me even cough syrups fall in the line of drugs

  2. January 6, 2010 - 7:27 pm 7:27 pm

    Maybe we should figure this out..When we use marijuana we should put in our mind that were using it for medical purposes..That’s the best way to set an option for our own goods..

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