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Imperial Beach Bans Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

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IMPERIAL BEACH – Imperial Beach city officials issued an outright ban Wednesday on medical marijuana dispensaries effective throughout the two-square mile beach town.

The decision was prompted by concerns over possible crime spikes, the potential for abuse of medical ID cards, and the impact that regulating such dispensaries could have on the city's $17 million general fund.

Though hundreds of cities and eight counties statewide have banned medical marijuana stores, Imperial Beach's stance is harsher than other jurisdictions throughout the county.

Cities, such as Chula Vista, have adopted temporary moratoriums on stores, but have not yet made a final decision. Larger municipalities, including the City of San Diego and San Diego County, have decided to allow them, but placed strict regulations on their operations.

Oceanside and others rely on their existing zoning rules to keep stores from cropping up.

Councilman Brian Patrick Bilbray voted against the ban.

"I think this is going to be a losing battle. I think a judge is going to turn around and say you have to accommodate for at least one," he said. "I think the responsible thing to do is to allow for at least one."

Medical marijuana patients and advocates spoke against the ban.

"Even though you personally believe marijuana is not a bad thing, I know that you are told to vote against it," Imperial Beach resident Tracey Rivera said. "I've seen what lobbyists for the prescription drug companies do. You can follow the money, but I ask that you do the right thing."

Many questioned the city's reliance on statistics from San Francisco and Los Angeles that suggest crime increases near medical marijuana facilities.

"Not the San Diego Police Department or the Sheriff's department have been able to produce one shred of evidence that there is any correlation between crime and medical marijuana dispensaries," President of the San Diego Chapter of Americans for Safe Access Eugene Davidovich said in an interview earlier Wednesday.

Lt. Marco Garmo with the San Diego Sheriff's department said he could not provide an answer when Councilwoman Lorie Bragg asked him if the stores are catalysts for crime.

"Anytime you have a business that operates primarily as a 'cash' business, you are going to see a spike in crime," Garmo said.

Also debated is the city's assertion that two stores just outside city limits provide the legal access to medical marijuana patients mandated by the Compassionate Use Act.

Marcus Boyd, vice chairman of San Diego Chapter of Americans for Safe Access, said those two stores have been effectively shut down after recently adopted changes in regulation by the City of San Diego.

Imperial Beach leaders agreed to modify the proposed ordinance to allow up to four people to receive medical marijuana from a private party, saying they wanted to maintain patient's rights.

News Hawk- Jacob Ebel 420 MAGAZINE
Source: signonsandiego.com
Author: Wendy Fry
Contact: Contact Us
Copyright: San Diego Union-Tribune, LLC
Website: Imperial Beach bans medical marijuana dispensaries
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