Pubdate: Wed, 21 Jan 2015
Source: San Diego Union Tribune (CA)
Copyright: 2015 Union-Tribune Publishing Co.
Note: Seldom prints LTEs from outside it's circulation area.
Author: David Garrick


No Regulations Set for Deliveries or Smokeless Products

SAN DIEGO - The San Diego City Council approved tighter operating 
restrictions for medical marijuana dispensaries on Tuesday but 
stopped short of regulating deliveries or creating stricter rules for 
smokeless products such as edibles and hash oil.

The changes, which include requiring employee background checks and 
testing of products for mold and pesticides, come as the city's first 
legal dispensaries are expected to open this spring.

Council members, who voted 8-1 to amend the regulations, said they 
plan to make additional revisions later this year if any unexpected 
problems arise.

"I anticipate there will be more discussion and more changes down the 
road as San Diego experiences these operations actually open 
legally," Councilwoman Marti Emerald said.

Councilwoman Lorie Zapf, whose beach-area district is home to the 
largest number of proposed dispensaries, cast the lone vote against 
the restrictions after describing them as too vague.

Several local residents also criticized the amended restrictions, 
with some complaining they don't go far enough and others saying the 
city shouldn't be allowing legal dispensaries in the first place.

"This just puts the city of San Diego in the business of drug 
dealing," said Scott Chipman, leader of San Diegans for Safe Neighborhoods.

City officials said they can't regulate deliveries, despite their 
desire to do so, based on advice from the City Attorney's Office that 
such a move could violate state and federal laws.

They had hoped to require drivers making deliveries to have a 
county-issued identification card, originate all deliveries at the 
cooperative and carry only marijuana labeled for a specific patient.

Emerald, who helped craft the regulations as chairman of the 
council's public safety committee, said the city is also unable to 
require dispensaries to reveal the potency of each product because no 
standards for potency have been set by the state or federal governments.

So the restrictions only "encourage" dispensaries to list potency. 
Emerald said she hopes the city can partner with dispensary operators 
on a set of potency standards.

Resident Nancy Logan said potency ratings are particularly crucial 
for edibles because they come with a delayed high, making 
over-consumption more likely.

"These brownies and cookies say nothing, and they take a long time to 
take effect, longer than smoking the marijuana," Logan said.

Steven Lubell, an attorney representing a dispensary proposed in 
Pacific Beach, agreed that products should be labeled for potency to 
shield patients, many of whom have compromised immune systems, from 
as much risk as possible.

Other critics said many edibles are labeled to make them more 
attractive to children.

But there wasn't support from a majority of the council to ban 
edibles, with Councilwoman Myrtle Cole calling such a move premature.

"I believe they work for certain patients," she said.

Terry Best, representing Americans for Safe Access, said extracts, 
such as hash oil, should remain legal because they allow some 
patients to receive the medicinal benefits of cannabis without losing 
their sobriety, which she called a significantly positive step.

"If you ban extracts, you're banning the progress we are making," she said.

The amendments also create a list of fees dispensaries must pay for 
the city to cover all of its costs to regulate them.

Tuesday's changes amend restrictions that were adopted in 2011 by the 
council but that never took effect because a referendum delayed a set 
of companion land-use restrictions governing where dispensaries can open.

The land-use restrictions were eventually approved by the council in 
winter 2014. Four proposed dispensaries are scheduled for final 
approvals by the Planning Commission this winter, with nearly three 
dozen more at earlier stages in the approval pipeline.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom