By Doug Porter
After years of quibbling, San Diego finally got around to enacting regulations for medical marijuana dispensaries last year. The first such entity to clear those legal hoops is slated to open in Otay Mesa this month.
Other licenses under consideration are being stalled by appeals based on environmental regulations filed by would-be competitors. And one location scheduled for a hearing this week is facing an appeal based on the statement “Latinos don’t support this”
coming from the San Ysidro Community Planning Group. (See UPDATE BELOW 3/11)
Meanwhile, in Washington DC a bi-partisan group of Senators are introducing legislation today that would amount to federal recognition of marijuana used for medical purposes.
The Four Per District Rule
Much of legal haggling over proposed dispensaries in the City of San Diego stems from the fact that only four locations per council district are allowed.
According to a UT San Diego story from November, there were already eight applicants for locations in District 6 and eighteen for District 2.
An obscure environmental regulation is adding turbulence to the already controversial approval process facing applicants competing to open San Diego’s first legal marijuana dispensaries, city officials said this week.
While the city’s first three legal dispensaries appear poised to open early next year, a dozen applicants behind them in the process are facing multi-week delays because their environmental exemptions, which were previously considered a formality, have been appealed.
The appeals appear to be strategic attempts by some applicants to get a leg up on their competitors, rather than someone raising genuine concerns about how a dispensary would impact the environment around it, attorneys working for some of the applicants said.
A planning commission hearing on Thursday will; consider locations in Clairemont, Midway and San Ysidro.
The proposed Midway site for the Point Loma Patients Cooperative is being opposed would-be competitors.
From today’s UT-San Diego:
A group trying to open one of San Diego’s first legal marijuana dispensaries is attacking the city’s approval process, saying it allows speed to trump quality and does not ban applicants who previously operated illegal pot shops.
The criticisms come days before the Planning Commission is scheduled to give final approval to a Midway District dispensary that many have criticized as too small and that would be run by a man who once operated an illegal dispensary.
Competition to open first is fierce, because San Diego’s ordinance allows a maximum of four dispensaries in each of the city’s nine council districts, and it prohibits dispensaries from being approved within 1,000 feet of one another.
San Ysidro Dispensary Support Sought
Two medical marijuana advocacy groups, Citizens for Patient Rights and the United Patients Alliance, are calling upon residents to attend the planning commission hearing (Thursday, 9am-noon, City Hall) in support of a South Bay applicant.
From their Facebook page:
We FINALLY have a licensed medical marijuana dispensary in San Diego City. And on March 12th, the planning commission has an opportunity to approve three more.
BUT the application in San Ysidro needs your support – it has been appealed by the San Ysidro community planning group, who has said that “Latinos don’t support this” and “South Bay residents don’t support this”. In their official appeal to the Planning Commission they wrote: “…this would be a bad representation of the City of San Diego, the great state of California and the Country”.
Editor’s Note: The San Ysidro Community Planning Group left a comment saying they have not filed an appeal. Here’s the gist of it:
“The confusion may be in the two appeals filed: Jason M-B Wells on behalf of the San Ysidro Business Association, and Bertha Gonzalez as an “interested party”. Ms. Gonzalez happens to be a boardmember of SYCPG, but is not acting for the group. Among their combined 7 grounds for the appeal is: “The San Ysidro Planning Group opposed this project. It is not in compliance with the community plan intent.” This may have lead some persons to believe that the SYCPG is somehow involved in the appeals process – which is not the case.”
Please join us in telling the planning commission that allowing Cannabis medicine to ailing members of the society in the South Bay represents the BEST of San Diego, California and our great nation.
We need patients, South Bay residents and Latinos to show the planning commission that the close minded members of the San Ysidro Community Planning Group do NOT speak for them!
Bi-Partisan Medi-Pot Bill Introduced in U.S. Senate
The use of medical marijuana has been approved in some fashion in 23 states and the District of Columbia. Back in December Congress approved an amendment barring the Justice Department from using funds to prevent states from implementing medical marijuana laws.
And now this, from the Washington Post:
In what advocates describe as an historic first, a trio of senators plan to unveil a federal medical marijuana bill Tuesday.
The bill, to be introduced by Senators Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), would end the federal ban on medical marijuana and implement a series of reforms long sought by advocates. They include downgrading its status with the Drug Enforcement Agency from Schedule 1 to Schedule 2, allowing doctors to recommend its use in some cases to veterans, expanding access to researchers and making it easier for banks to provide services to the industry.
The Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States (CARERS) Act would “allow patients, doctors and businesses in states that have already passed medical marijuana laws to participate in those programs without fear of federal prosecution,” according to a joint statement from the senators’ offices. The bill will also “make overdue reforms to ensure patients – including veterans receiving care from VA facilities in states with medical marijuana programs – access the care they need.”
Baby Girl’s Death Prompts Petition for Street Closure
The death of 7-month old Juniper Aavang in a Point Loma crosswalk last week has led to a citizen petition urging the city to effectively close Cañon Street from Talbot Street to Catalina Boulevard.
From the OB Rag account:
Juniper’s family was visiting San Diego and from Woodstock, Illinois. She was being pushed in a stroller by her father as the mother was walking in front. They entered a crosswalk on a side street off of Catalina Boulevard that goes to Canon Street.
About 6:30 a.m. on Monday, the father and baby were injured by a Chevrolet Suburban, driven by a male motorist who immediately stopped and tried to render aid.
Both the baby and father were taken to hospitals. The baby was unconscious and the father had serious head injuries. No word on the status of his improvements. Medics had taken the baby to Rady Children’s Hospital, where she died late Tuesday night.
The man who had hit them told police that his view was obstructed by something. A small palm tree that did partially block the view of the crosswalk by motorists on Catalina – that has since been removed by city crews.
Residents complained to the media about how dangerous that intersection is and questioned the wisdom of even having a crosswalk in that location.
It’s easy to speculate that since her parents were from out of state, they were unfamiliar with that section of the roadway. It has always been dangerous in that area, as motorists speed down Catalina Blvd on their way to work in the morning rush hour time.
This is a horrible tragedy. We call on the City and the local planning committee to look into the dangers that this crosswalk may pose to unwary pedestrians.
The petition at Change.org has been signed by nearly 1000 people as I am writing this.
More Madness in the Chargers Saga
One of the three proposed stadiums for Los Angeles is no longer happening, due to lack of interest.
From the Los Angeles Times:
After investing five years and $50 million in an attempt to bring an NFL team back to Los Angeles, AEG is abandoning plans for its Farmers Field football stadium downtown.
The sports and entertainment conglomerate is no longer in discussions with the NFL or any teams about the project, company officials said Monday.
“I think it’s fair to say we have turned our attention to proceeding with an alternative development,” AEG Vice Chairman Ted Fikre said.
Then there’s the “we were just trying gauge interest” hustle for $10,000 donations going on in San Diego.
According to an email provided to KPBS last week, the inquiries came from Jean Freelove of Freelove Consulting Group Inc. She’s helped raise money for Republican politicians and serves on the San Diego County Taxpayers Association board.
When contacted by phone Friday, Freelove referred questions about her work to the Citizens’ Stadium Advisory group. That’s the task force appointed by Mayor Kevin Faulconer to pitch a new Chargers stadium plan.
But the mayor, task force and Chargers said they have no connection to Freelove’s current efforts.
Political consultant Jason Cabel Roe, who’s been working for the task force on a volunteer basis, said he was the one who involved Freelove.
In an email, he said he contacted her last week to see if she’d help raise money when it “got to that point.” Roe said he hasn’t received any money and that Freelove’s dozen or so inquiries were just to “gauge their interest.”
Battling Front Pages: UT-SD vs NY Daily News on Iran Letter
One publisher’s heroes are another publisher’s traitors, I guess…
On This Day:1876 – Alexander Graham Bell made the first successful call with the telephone. He spoke the words “Mr. Watson, come here, I want to see you.” 1968 – United Farm Workers leader César Chávez breaks a 24-day fast, by doctor’s order, at a mass in Delano, California’s public park. Several thousand supporters are at his side, including Sen. Robert Kennedy. Chavez called it “a fast for non-violence and a call to sacrifice.” 1971 – The Senate approved an amendment to lower the voting age to 18.
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