SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A set of zoning and public safety regulations for medical marijuana dispensaries was passed on second reading Tuesday by the City Council, with no changes to what was approved the first time around.
Passage came on a pair of 5-2 votes, despite vocal opposition among audience members who opposed the regulations.
Five medical marijuana advocates remained in the council chamber for at least 45 minutes after the votes were taken, chanting slogans and singing "We Shall Overcome," despite being threatened with arrest. They left after the meeting ended and were not arrested.
The regulations confine dispensaries to light industrial and commercial zones in the city of San Diego, at least 600 feet from residences, schools and other sensitive areas.
Operators are required to get a conditional use permit, which could take thousands of dollars and as long as two years to obtain.
Opponents called the regulations a de-facto ban on marijuana collectives, allowed under state law by Proposition 215, which voters passed 15 years ago.
"For those who say this is a ban, you're dead wrong," Councilwoman Marti Emerald countered. She said commercial and industrial areas were strewn through all the council districts.
Councilman David Alvarez said maps showed potential sites for collectives were few and generally concentrated in two areas.
Councilman Todd Gloria said the ordinances are "more restrictive than I would like" but said he believed they would be amended in time, predicting that neighbors would eventually find the dispensaries to be assets to the community.
"Politics is all about what's possible," Gloria said.
The council members decided not to go forward with changes requested by medical marijuana advocates, including an expansion of allowable zones in which to operate, a reduction in the distance of setbacks and allowing current dispensaries to continue operating while their operators apply for the conditional use permit.
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