Referendum to overturn medical marijuana ordinances qualifies fo - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Referendum to overturn medical marijuana ordinances qualifies for ballot

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A referendum aimed at overturning restrictions on medical marijuana in San Diego got enough voter signatures to qualify for the ballot, City Clerk Elizabeth Maland said Wednesday.

The results mean that the City Council will have to decide whether to repeal the laws, approved in April, or put the issue to a public vote -- most likely on the June 5, 2012 ballot. Council members also have the option to call a special election, but the cost makes it less likely.

The ordinances, which address zoning, permitting and public safety concerns, restrict marijuana dispensaries to commercial and light industrial zones 600 feet from sensitive locations, such as residences, schools and playgrounds. Operators would also have to obtain a condition use permit that would cost thousands of dollars and take as long as two years to get.

Around 44,000 voter signatures were turned in by opponents of the laws, and because the projected number of valid names was close to the total needed to qualify -- 31,029 -- petitions were hand counted by the county Registrar of Voters, Maland said.

California voters passed the Compassionate Use Act, which decriminalized the use of marijuana for medical purposes, 15 years ago, but the county of San Diego and area municipalities have only addressed regulation of dispensaries in the past couple of years.

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