Medical marijuana restrictions reinstated by interim mayor

SAN DIEGO – The San Diego Police Department and the city’s Neighborhood Code Compliance Office have been ordered to resume enforcing medical marijuana zoning restrictions, Interim Mayor Todd Gloria said Thursday.

In the first of what he promises to be weekly media briefings, Gloria said a draft medical marijuana ordinance will be publicly vetted this fall, and could go before the City Council early next year.

MarijuanaDispensary2Without such a law, medical marijuana dispensaries are illegal within city limits.

Former Mayor Bob Filner, who resigned in disgrace at the end of last month, was a strong supporter of medical marijuana and refused to enforce the city’s zoning ordinances.

While dozens of dispensaries were shut down under previous Mayor Jerry Sanders, many resumed doing business during Filner’s nine months in office.

“The city of San Diego will not reward bad behavior,” Gloria said.

He said he issued the order to resume enforcement last week, but was unaware of whether any cases had been referred to the City Attorney’s Office.

“What I’ve identified as we’ve been working through our top-down review of city departments is that the previous administration didn’t always follow the rules,” Gloria said. “When we know that we don’t actually have zoning regulations that allow for medical marijuana dispensaries, obviously the mayor had ceased enforcement, and was not providing the cases that Code Compliance would generate to the City Attorney’s Office.”

The city of San Diego went years without adopting rules that would allow dispensaries to operate legally under the Compassionate Use Act, passed by state voters in 1996.

The City Council passed such an ordinance in 2011, but medical marijuana advocates considered it too restrictive and collected enough petition signatures to force the council members to rescind the law.

The consequence, however, was that those dispensaries that were operating became illegal again.

Gloria said the current draft ordinance was set to go before the Community Planners Committee and the Planning Commission before it reached the City Council.

He also said he would move ahead with the city’s program to offer municipal services to competitive bidding, which is called “Managed Competition,” and would solicit ideas from developers on how to use the former Central Library building on E Street in downtown San Diego.

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