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Council panel forwards medical marijuana proposal to city attorney

A package of proposed regulations on medical marijuana dispensaries, including background checks on all employees, was accepted today by a City Council committee and forwarded to the City Attorney’s Office for legal review.

The suggested regulations would force dispensaries to operate as non-profit organizations, keep out juveniles, and not offer doctor’s advice. Other rules would govern packaging and transportation of the marijuana, and impose business fees to recoup city costs.

The set of proposals was presented by Alex Kreit, chair of San Diego’s Medical Marijuana Task Force, to the council’s Public Safety and Neighborhood Services committee. The 11-member task force met seven times since January to hammer out its final report, Kreit said.

“We believe that by closely regulating collectives and cooperatives, the city of San Diego can ensure that qualified patients have safe access to their lawfully recommended medicine,” the task force report said.

Council members voted to send the package to the City Attorney’s Office for legal review. City lawyers are to return to the committee on May 26 with their recommendations. Councilwoman Marti Emerald asked city staff to come up with a business fee based on costs to regulate the dispensaries.

Several residents spoke against having dispensaries in their neighborhoods, saying they gives the wrong signal to children about using drugs. Other people supported the availability of legal marijuana for pain and nausea relief.

San Diego Police Department Assistant Chief Cesar Solis said his department remains concerned about illegal activities surrounding the dispensaries, run as cooperatives and collectives among growers, users and caregivers.

Solis said he would like a proposed restriction on hiring employees with certain criminal histories to include a specific list of crimes that would be disqualifying.

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.