Pubdate: Thu, 17 Mar 2016
Source: San Diego Union Tribune (CA)
Copyright: 2016 Union-Tribune Publishing Co.
Note: Seldom prints LTEs from outside it's circulation area.
Author: Joshua Stewart


San Diego County supervisors enacted a 45-day ban on new medical 
marijuana facilities on Wednesday, disrupting plans for eight 
dispensaries and cultivation sites that had recently applied for 
permits to open in unincorporated parts of the county.

During the temporary moratorium, supervisors and county staff will 
consider new regulations or a ban on the facilities.

The hiatus leaves San Diego city as the only jurisdiction within the 
county that allows medical marijuana collectives to apply for the 
various approvals needed to operate a legal dispensary or cultivation site.

"This moratorium will give us the breathing room to get it right," 
Supervisor Dave Roberts said.

The action passed with four votes in favor. Supervisor Ron Roberts 
was not present.

The moratorium was enacted after building permits were issued for two 
facilities in Ramona, one in El Cajon and one in Valley Center.

Building permits are under review for two operations in Lakeside, one 
in Ramona and one in Julian. The facilities likely will not be able 
to open because the moratorium will halt final approvals such as 
occupancy permits.

During the hiatus, county staff members will develop options that 
supervisors might later enact, including a 1,000-foot buffer between 
medical marijuana facilities and homes, requiring collectives to 
obtain a major use permit, increased enforcement and civil penalties 
against dispensaries that ignore regulations, buffers between county 
dispensaries and city borders, as well as a ban on all medical 
marijuana facilities.

Ramona and Julian residents came out in support of curtailing or 
banning new medical marijuana facilities in East County.

Supervisors Greg Cox and Dave Roberts said they don't think that a 
ban is appropriate, while Supervisors Dianne Jacob and Bill Horn both 
support completely banning dispensaries and cultivation centers. Ron 
Roberts' position wasn't made known at the meeting on account of his absence.

There are seven open dispensaries in San Diego city and six that have 
recently received approvals, in addition to the two that are open in 
unincorporated parts of the county, Jacob said.

"If we put in place a ban and a temporary moratorium today, which I 
would support, we are not denying access to anyone in this region to 
medical marijuana," she said.

Gina Austin, an attorney who represents Show Grow, a dispensary in 
Ramona, said it's unclear if the collective can continue with its 
efforts to build a cultivation site on their property in order to 
create a "closed loop system" between the grower and the dispensary.

Gino Berardino, founder of the SurvivorMedz collective, said the 
decision puts his plans for a dispensary in Ramona in jeopardy.

He had spent years and nearly $1 million to open a facility and was 
awaiting an occupancy certificate pending a review of the fire 
sprinkler system before the county enacted the moratorium.

"We are hopeful that we can work with county staff and the board to 
find a balanced solution that mitigates community concerns, current 
investments and provides the legally prescribed medicine to those who 
need it," Berardino said in a statement.

The moratorium expires April 27. Supervisors, with four votes, could 
extend it for 10 months and 45 days. An additional vote could add 
another 12-month extension.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom