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SD's Medical Marijuana Advocates Consider Legal Battle with City

Jim Finnel

Fallen Cannabis Warrior & Ex News Moderator
Medicinal marijuana advocates and co-op managers packed the house April 5 at the La Jolla Brew House for a meeting organized by the San Diego chapter of Americans for Safe Access (ASA). For two hours, more than 60 patients and co-op managers discussed political strategies–including potential litigation–before a five-member panel of attorneys and community organizers.

On March 28, the City Council approved the first reading of stricter regulations on medical marijuana dispensaries in the city. Proposed regulations would restrict cooperatives to light industrial and commercial areas of the city, to within at least 600 feet from homes and other sensitive areas, and require additional public safety requirements such as operator fingerprinting.

As of the vote, Mayor Jerry Sander's office has 30 days to create a budget and implementation plan, which will then be presented to the City Council when it votes for a second and final time on the new restrictions. The proposed ordinances are up for a second and final vote on April 12 at 10 am. A Stop the Ban Rally is scheduled for 9 a.m.

Attorneys Kimberly Simms, Thomas Gallagher, Melissa Bobrow explained to attendees the benefits of co-op owners banding together.

"The bottom line is the city is ready to fight this," Simms said. "Every city in California is broke but other cities have spent millions of dollars fighting co-ops, and San Diego will find the resources. Each co-op has to decide for themselves, but we are at a crossroads, and it is time to suit up and armor up because we are going up against the city."

Attorney John J. Murphy, who is currently involved in ongoing litigation in the city of Anaheim, and has fought for co-ops in cities such as Los Angeles and Brea, further emphasized Simms' comments. "You can hope for the best and do nothing, but regulation is the way it is going to go," Murphy said. "You need to open your eyes. We are not going backward. We have to band together, raise funds, and pull money together so not one dispensary has to bear the legal burden cost."

Attorneys estimated that the cost of litigation over several years could reach $40,000.

Although much of the meeting focused on litigation strategies, one attorney stressed that no lawsuits may be filed until the city votes and passes the proposed ordinances. Eugene Davidovich , an organizer for ASA–a national organization that works to ensure safe and legal access to medical marijuana–also reminded attendees that the political pressure on council members is not over.

Davidovich also stated that, so far, the mayor and all council members have received hundreds of emails with new amendments from medical marijuana advocates.

A statement from Councilman Todd Gloria's office stated that he "appreciates all input he has received on this issue in person, via original or form letters and emails, and on the telephone, and it will help inform his vote."

Gloria's office further stressed that because of public input, Gloria was successful in amending the proposed ordinances with more appropriate distance requirements and permit processes. It cited insufficient support of the council for other changes, including a grace period.

When the ordinances return to the City Council for a vote, Gloria's staff said that he believes San Diego should have some regulations to ensure that legitimate patients have safe access to medical marijuana from responsible collectives, and he will apply that framework when he considers his vote.

NewsHawk: Jim Behr: 420 MAGAZINE
Source: patch.com
Author: Esther Rubio-Sheffrey
Copyright: 2011 patch.com
Contact: Contact Us - La Jolla, CA Patch
Website: SD's Medical Marijuana Advocates Consider Legal Battle with City - La Jolla, CA Patch
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