A new development for medical cannabis dispensaries in San Diego, as the City Council has approved new regulations on Tuesday, February 25. The new regulations will limit the dispensaries to no more than four per district and sets zoning and operating restrictions.
Since California’s Compassionate Use Act was approved by voters in San Diego 17 years ago, the issue was addressed several times. In 2011, zoning and operating restrictions were enforced by the City Council; however, advocates collected signatures, forcing the council to reconsider the restrictions. Some say the new regulations for medical cannabis dispensaries, approved by the San Diego City Council, are considered to be even stricter.
Dispensaries are allowed to operate legally with a use permit from the city, valid for five years. In addition, an annual public safety permit is required. Dispensaries are not allowed within 1,000 feet of schools, public parks, churches, care facilities and playgrounds. In fact, they are not allowed within a 1,000 feet of another dispensary. With these new regulations, the San Diego City Council hopes to be able to limit problems that medical cannabis may cause. Councilwoman Marti Emerald says, “We cannot turn our backs on this, or else there will be a continued proliferation of illegal operations. In addition, there is a great chance that people will abuse the system, resulting in medical cannabis ending up in the hands of children or people who do not need it for medical reasons. With these new regulations, we are spreading out the impact.”
While medical cannabis dispensaries will now be regulated in San Diego, another city on Tuesday banned medical cannabis dispensaries and other associated facilities. The City Council of Boulder City, NV voted against dispensaries unanimously and is the first to do so in its county. Resident Myreen Aschenbach says, “I am happy that our city is being proactive about this. The last thing we need here is a Venice Beach where everyone can get cannabis for the slightest headache.” Ed Uehling lives in Boulder City since the 1940s and expects that the city’s ban on medical cannabis dispensaries will have consequences, as legal card holders will have to drive to Las Vegas. Uehling remembers the alcohol ban in Boulder City decades ago, when people drove to Las Vegas to get a beer. He says it caused more traffic accidents. “It is like we live in the 17th century,” he said.
Although the City Council of Boulder City has empathy for those who need medical cannabis for their illness, they feel that medical cannabis dispensaries will not do the city any good, stating that burglaries and crimes increase in cities and neighborhoods where dispensaries are legally operating. Evidence; however, was not shown.
Medical cannabis is allowed in the state of Nevada since 2001, but patients experience difficulties in buying the drug. Nevada will adopt its final regulations in April, paving the way for an estimated 66 dispensaries throughout the state. Although the new regulations for medical cannabis dispensaries in San Diego may seem stricter to some residents, others, living in Boulder City, are hoping that some day they will be approved.
By Diana Herst