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California - San Bernardino Medical Marijuana Proponents Push Back

The General

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Since the city changed course two weeks ago and announced it would begin doubling down on its medical marijuana dispensary ban, proponents have begun pushing back on multiple fronts. A lawsuit filed on behalf of MJ Dispensary on Tuesday alleges, among other complaints, that the city violated the state's open-meeting law when the decision was made in private. The lawsuit, which asks a judge to invalidate the actions taken in closed session and reimburse the dispensary for legal fees, is on the closed-session agenda for Monday's City Council meeting.

Also on the agenda is an open-session proposal to "discuss and take possible action regarding medical marijuana dispensaries." And resident Karmel Roe last week filed a notice of intention to begin circulating petitions for a ballot item that would allow some highly regulated dispensaries in the city. "We want to encourage the good dispensaries, so there are a lot of restrictions," Roe said, holding a copy of her 22-page proposed ordinance. "That's to make sure there is safe access (to medical marijuana) for those who need it."

Roe presented her proposed ordinance Tuesday at the newly formed Brownie Mary Democratic Club of San Bernardino County. The club, which follows chapters formed in Riverside and three other counties, is chartered by the county Democrats. It aims to promote the Democratic Party, protect medical marijuana patients, repeal marijuana prohibition and end the war on drugs, according to its mission statement.

Also at the meeting was Lanny Swerdlow, founder of the first such club, who said opponents of the marijuana crackdown need to mobilize. "There are more of us who are against this war on drugs than there are gun advocates – or close to as many – but we haven't given money, we haven't organized," Swerdlow said. "If we had one-tenth the fire in our belly that the NRA does, marijuana would be legal in all 50 states."

That's not what most residents of San Bernardino want, based on hearings the city held on possibly allowing some dispensaries, Mayor Carey Davis said Thursday. And it's not what he wants. "It clearly seems like the negative side effects if San Bernardino were to authorize (marijuana dispensaries) would be a drain on the youth of San Bernardino, who need to stay focused on improving their talents and skills," Davis said, pointing to National Institutes of Health data showing increased acceptance of marijuana among high schoolers and lower achievement for chronic users.

Roe's proposed ordinance says the city can't afford to "waste tax dollars trying to enforce a total ban on medical marijuana dispensaries" and that there's been an influx of dispensaries opening in violation of the city's ban. And many proponents of allowing collectives to distribute medical marijuana – which is legal under state law but not federal law – have said it's better to allow safe, regulated access than leave people to get drugs from criminals.

That's something the city should try to prevent, Davis said. "It's available to youth now or they're going to get it illegally – I don't think that's a strong argument that you make it more available for them," he said. Davis said he was confident a partnership with the District Attorney's Office would lead to more success shutting down dispensaries than the city has had so far, although he didn't want to give specifics on when residents might see a change. "I'd like it to be as soon as possible," he said.

City Attorney Gary Saenz has until Oct. 24 to return a ballot summary and title regarding Roe's proposed ordinance, which sets off the timeline for her to begin collecting the nearly 3,700 signatures she will need, said City Clerk Gigi Hanna. Roe has 180 days from the time she receives the ballot title and summary to collect the signatures. If the City Council decides to hold a special election on her ordinance, it would have to be held on a Tuesday between Sept. 8 and Oct. 27, 2015, all of which would require a special election because no other elections are scheduled then.

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News Moderator - The General @ 420 MAGAZINE ®
Source: Sbsun.com
Author: Ryan Hagen
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Website: San Bernardino medical marijuana proponents push back
 
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