By James R. Riffel
City News Service
A group of anti-drug activists and parents Wednesday called on the San Diego Planning Commission to adopt tougher regulations for medical marijuana outlets.
The commission is set to discuss the issue Thursday, though the city and the county already have regulatory ordinances in place.
"Most people are sympathetic to the seriously ill who get relief from marijuana," said Marcie Beckett, a mother of two from Pacific Beach, where dispensaries are common.
Beckett said the concept of providing of medical marijuana to sick people "has been hijacked by profiteers."
Activists who want to see more regulations said 180 dispensaries operate illegally in the city of San Diego, mostly in the beach areas, North Park and Normal Heights.
They said at least nine holdups have occurred at pot shops in the past six months.
The Planning Commission is expected to further define what constitutes a medical marijuana dispensary and to establish a permitting process.
Dispensaries would be limited to industrial and certain community commercial zones, and operators would have to apply for a conditional use permit. Authorities do not want pot shops within 1,000 feet of schools,
playgrounds, libraries, child care facilities, youth facilities, churches, parks or other dispensaries.
Dispensary operators would also have to prove their nonprofit status and conform to restrictions on signage, security, lighting and hours of operation.
Scott Chipman of San Diegans for Safe Neighborhoods said all 180 shops that are operating illegally should be closed until they get permits.
Dispensary operarors argue that they operate within the law, and that ultra-restrictive zoning laws force them into unsafe areas.
Any measures approved by the Planning Commission would need final approval from the City Council before being codified.