Medical Marijuana: Debate in Vista over allowing legal shops - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Medical Marijuana: Debate in Vista over allowing legal shops

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VISTA (CBS 8) - The City of Vista on Tuesday night heard from dozens of patients and families, who said they need legal access to marijuana, as it works to figure out if it wants to allow medical marijuana shops.

Nearly 35 people stood in front of the Vista City Council, including cancer patients who use medical marijuana to manage their pain, to ask that raids against marijuana shops be stopped.

"During these raids patient records have been seized. They have been taking information that they should not be taken," Beatrice Chavez told the City Council.

The City of San Diego is the only city in the county to approve permits for marijuana dispensaries. According to the website, there are 15 unlicensed medical marijuana shops listed in Vista.

One father, Matthew Menkee who has a son with cerebral palsy, said Vista does not have safe and reliable access to medical marijuana. "He needs to be heard by you guys. He needs to be able to have safe access."

Only three people who oppose regulating medical marijuana shops attended Tuesday's meeting.

"All storefronts do is tell our youth that 'hey, it's okay - the city's allows marijuana and it is not dangerous,' and it is very dangerous," said Craig Balbeen with the North Coastal Prevention Coalition.

Erica Leary, who also opposes regulation, said "the storefront dispensaries are really about making money and profits."

A cancer patient told the City Council they were "the face of a cancer patient who is dying. I am nothing but short of a miracle."

After nearly two hours of public comment, the Vista City Council asked staff to come up with a proposal to explore ways to regulate medical marijuana shops.

"Times have changed. Marijuana is not what it was 30 years ago. There is no more war," said Chavez.

City staff is expected to have the report on regulating medical marijuana shops by the end of April, but the Vista City Council remains split on the issue.

In November, 2016, voters in Lemon Grove approved Measure U which allows regulations of medical marijuana shops. The city is currently accepting applications. 

On Wednesday, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors will vote on a permanent ban on medical marijuana shops. Currently, there are two operating in Ramona and in un-incorporated El Cajon.

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