Medical marijuana ordinances challenged
April 27, 2011
Chris Cadelago, San Diego Union-Tribune
Medical marijuana advocates on Thursday launched a two-front assault on a pair of tough new ordinances that require every collective in the city to shut down and apply for operating permits.
Citizens for Patient Rights, which is pursuing a referendum, has 30 days to gather 31,029 valid signatures from registered voters to qualify a measure.
The push began after Mayor Jerry Sanders elected not to sign or veto restrictions approved by the City Council April 12, clearing the way for them to become law. If the citizen’s group receives the minimum number of qualified signatures, the council could either overturn the ordinances or put them on the ballot.
Under the new ordinances, the city’s estimated 165 medical marijuana collectives would have to shutter their storefronts and apply for operating permits. Dispensaries would be limited to some commercial and industrial zones and at least 600 feet from one another as well as schools, playgrounds, libraries, child care and youth facilities, parks and churches.
They also would have to operate as nonprofits, have curtailed business hours and hire security guards.
As Sanders works on a plan to oversee permitting, compliance and enforcement, another advocacy group ramped up the political and legal pressure.
In letter Thursday to City Attorney Jan Goldsmith, the chief counsel for Americans for Safe Access argued that the new restrictions violate the property rights of current operators.
Attorney Joseph D. Elford said because there are so few places where dispensaries could legally operate, and given the short compliance time, the rules effectively divest collective operators of their vested rights, violating their due process.
"For these reasons, if you do not ease these unconstitutional restrictions — for instance, by allowing medical marijuana collectives to operate in most commercial and all industrial zones, and increasing the period to obtain a conditional use permit to one year — we will explore our options for doing so in court," Elford wrote.