Marijuana initiative appears headed to ballot

By Katherine Poythress


IMPERIAL BEACH — Early results indicate more than 15 percent of registered voters in Imperial Beach have signed a petition that would allow residents to vote on whether to repeal the city’s ban on medical marijuana dispensaries.

The Safe Access Ordinance of Imperial Beach proposes overturning the City Council’s decision last year to ban the facilities. Local supporters of medical marijuana dispensaries say that Imperial Beach’s ban is the most restrictive of all cities in San Diego County, because it prohibits even those with medical licenses from keeping their own plants.

The six-page ordinance is crafted to ensure “that seriously ill Californians and residents of the city of Imperial Beach can obtain and use cannabis for medical purposes where that medical use has been deemed appropriate by a physician in accordance with California law,” according to the document.

The measure would allow patients to smoke inside a dispensary if certain requirements are met, and allow the shops to operate from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. The ordinance would also not allow the stores to be within 600 feet of a school or 300 feet of another dispensary. It does not include any special fees to help offset the cost of regulation and enforcement.

“Strong regulations like the ones we’re proposing would keep medical cannabis away from children and schools, and create a safe means for those who are qualified, to have safe, reliable, local access to that medicine,” said Eugene Davidovich, a local member of Americans for Safe Access, which co-sponsored the initiative with Canvass for a Cause. “At the same time, we’re taking into strong consideration the concerns of the neighborhood.”


An earlier version of this story misstated the name of Canvass for a Cause. It has been updated.

The initiative garnered more than 2,600 signatures, 1,555 of which appear to qualify under petition regulations requiring them to belong to registered voters, Davidovich said. He turned the signatures in to the city clerk Friday.

“It was truly a community effort,” he said of the signature drive, which cost about $4,000. “We didn’t hire an outside signature-gathering firm. This was volunteer activists, along with a few paid folks. A lot of the folks that went out there to just about every street in I.B. were patients, some of whom are terminal patients.”

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