SAN DIEGO – A group of medical marijuana activists sued the city of San Diego this week to put a stop to recently passed regulations of dispensaries.
The lawsuit was filed in Superior Court by the Union of Medical Marijuana Patients Inc., which calls itself a civil rights organization founded in 2007 in Los Angeles to defend and assert the rights of medical cannabis patients.
Their petition for a writ of mandate contends that, according to a study of the zoning regulations passed by the council, “only 30” dispensaries can possibly exist in the city.
The regulations, adopted in March, set distance restrictions between collectives and residences, schools, parks and other family-oriented facilities. It also required people who run the cooperatives to obtain a conditional use permit, good for five years, and a public safety permit, which must be renewed annually.
An inspection of a map with all the guidelines laid out “clearly shows that cooperatives will be concentrated in certain areas of the city and patients will need to travel relatively far to visit them,” says the petition, the filing of which was first reported by Courthouse News Service.
The plaintiffs also said the city also did not properly follow the California Environmental Quality Act when adopting the regulations.
The City Attorney’s Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
However, a San Diego-based group of medical marijuana advocates said the lawsuit will “only serve to delay safe, reasonable access to medicinal cannabis for legitimate patients.”
The Alliance for Responsible Medicinal Access said in a statement that “San Diego’s medical marijuana providers and patients are eager to see permitted cooperatives operating lawfully in the city, and while it’s true the new ordinance is highly restrictive, this attempted end-run around our City Council through the courts will do nothing to improve access.”
“Our local medicinal marijuana community should continue to focus its energy and resources on proving to regulators, law enforcement and the community that we are good neighbors and an asset to our city,” the group said.
Even though the regulations have been enacted, medical marijuana dispensaries remain illegal in San Diego until the permits are issued. City officials said the process could take six months to one year to complete.