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Medical Pot Dispensaries Topic of CV Meeting

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CHULA VISTA – Like many municipalities in San Diego County and across the state, Chula Vista is trying to untangle a perplexing legal knot: what to do about medical marijuana dispensaries.

It's a city policy conundrum with only a few certainties: There will be loud voices on all sides of the issue as well as legal risks no matter what decisions are made.

People with a wide range of viewpoints expressed their opinions at a Chula Vista public safety subcommittee meeting Wednesday held at the Chula Vista Woman's Club on G Street.

"We are in support of sensible, fair regulations that are sensitive to the needs of other members of the community who may oppose it," said Stephen McCamman, who spoke for the Patient Care Association of California.

Others were not so diplomatic.

"I'm insulted by the promotion of fear and propaganda by the presentations made here tonight," said Leo Milla, referring to statistics cited by the Chula Vista Police Department. A legal summary of the issue was also given by the City Attorney's Office.

In June 2009, Chula Vista enacted a moratorium on collectives that sell marijuana to patients with a prescription, despite a San Diego County grand jury recommendation that dispensaries be allowed.

That moratorium is set to expire June 21.

Californians voted to decriminalize medicinal marijuana use in 1996. However, marijuana is still illegal under federal law and allowing dispensaries could contradict some of the city's zoning rules.

Proponents of a ban cited the growing rate of children exposed at earlier ages to marijuana and other drugs.

The crowd became agitated when Carol Green, a Chula Vista Elementary School District parent and former PTA president, noted she was a resident of Chula Vista, "unlike most of the people in this room" -- an assertion that was protested.

"Some (supporters) say they would limit children's exposure to it, but letting kids think it's a healthy way to relax and a cure for everything from lung cancer to epilepsy is exposing our children to ignorance and opening a Pandora's Box," she said.

Opponents of the moratorium argued in favor of taxing and regulating dispensaries, and implored city officials to consider the rights of the sick.

Medical marijuana advocate Daniel Green, who sparked the current debate two years ago by applying for a business license to operate a cooperative, appealed to council members Patricia Aguilar and Steve Castaneda, the chairs of the subcommittee.

Daniel Green argued the city was missing out on valuable tax revenue, ignoring the vote of the people and denying the rights of patients and business owners.

He isn't the only person who cited the city's financial woes to argue in favor of dispensaries.

"Why can't we just tax the heck out of it so some good can come out of it?" Jerry Thomas asked, stating that he is concerned about drug wars in Mexico. "I'm not for drugs, but we have to find a way to bring some money into this city."

If allowed, dispensaries must operate as nonprofit businesses and check for medical marijuana cards, a regulation that could open the door for lawsuits by violating medical privacy laws.

One speaker described through labored breathing and an oxygen tank how he mixes Everclear with small amounts of cannabis after declining to receive a double-lung transplant for pulmonary failure.

"You are violating the rights of those who suffer from serious illnesses and need their voices to be heard," Vey Linville of Spring Valley told the group. "We will not be trivialized."

There are no known cooperatives operating in town, according to the City Attorney's Office.

Cities across the county have taken diverse stances on the matter. San Diego recently adopted tight restrictions that effectively shut down an estimated 165 dispensaries. Oceanside effectively banned dispensaries through its zoning ordinances, while Imperial Beach is considering an outright ban.

According to Americans for Safe Access, an estimated 50,000 county residents have doctors' recommendations for medical marijuana.

Castaneda said another public safety subcommittee meeting on the same topic will be held before another council vote is taken on the matter.

News Hawk- Jacob Ebel 420 MAGAZINE
Source: signonsandiego.com
Author: Wendy Fry
Contact: Contact Us
Copyright: The San Diego Union-Tribune, LLC
Website: Medical pot dispensaries topic of CV meeting
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