Council committee on medical marijuana OKs dispensary guidelines

A City Council committee Thursday advanced a package of proposed regulations for the operation of medical marijuana dispensaries in San Diego.

The proposed guidelines would require background checks on all medical marijuana dispensary employees; mandate that the collectives operate as nonprofit organizations; restrict access to those under 18; and prohibit consultations by physicians on site.

The packaging and transportation of medical marijuana would also be regulated and a fee imposed to recoup city costs.

The Public Safety and Neighborhood Services Committee voted unanimously to direct the City Attorney’s Office to draft an ordinance reflecting the proposed regulations to be forwarded to the full City Council for consideration.

Councilman Tony Young agreed to move the regulations on to the full council, but said he had reservations, particularly in regard to the spread of medical marijuana dispensaries in San Diego.

“I have serious concerns about proliferation that I still think need to be addressed,’ Young said.

A separate committee, the Land Use and Housing Committee, voted in March to forward to the full City Council a zoning ordinance that would regulate where medical marijuana dispensaries are allowed to operate in San Diego.

The proposed zoning law would prohibit medical marijuana dispensaries from locating in residential areas or within 1,000 feet of schools, playgrounds, libraries, churches, parks and places where children frequent. Medical marijuana storefronts would also be barred from locating within 1,000 feet of each other.

Both ordinances will be considered by the full City Council at the same hearing, but a date has not yet been set.

The proposed regulations largely mirror those made by an 11-member Medical Marijuana Task Force established by the city last September to look at ways to govern the use of medical marijuana and to address concerns about the proliferation of dispensaries in San Diego.

Proposition 215, approved by California voters in 1996, makes it legal for seriously ill patients under the supervision of a doctor to obtain and use marijuana for medical purposes.