Tuesday, June 22, 2010

SD County attempts to pass De Facto Ban on Medical Marijuana Facilities

SAN DIEGO - Wednesday, June 23, 2010, at 9am the San Diego County Board of Supervisors will meet to discuss and vote on a proposed ordinance regulating medical marijuana facilities in the unincorporated areas of San Diego County.

The proposed ordinance severely limits patients’ access to medical marijuana in the unincorporated areas of San Diego County. Certain provisions in the proposed regulatory ordinance would not only seriously violate patient confidentiality in these facilities, but also would effectively ban all dispensaries in the unincorporated areas of the county.

Patients, concerned citizens, and members of San Diego Americans for Safe Access have several specific concerns and suggested changes for the proposed ordinance. The two most restrictive and alarming requirements in the ordinance are first the Zoning restrictions, which effectively eliminate all areas in San Diego where a medical marijuana facility could be located, and second, the Sheriff licensing requirement, which places law enforcement and the Narcotics Task Force at the helm of licensing and enforcing these facilities.
  • WHAT: San Diego County Board of Supervisors Meeting on Medical Marijuana Regulations
  • WHEN: 6/23/2010 – 9am
  • WHERE: 1600 Pacific Highway, San Diego CA 92101 Room 310

Read the Supporting Documentation for the proposed ordinance:
http://www.sdcounty.ca.gov/bos/supporting_docs/062310ag01w.pdf

Members of San Diego Americans for Safe Access (San Diego ASA) have identified the following list of specific changes that should be made to the ordinance before it is voted on. These changes would help both address the la enforcements’ concerns, while keeping patients interest in mind:

1. Zoning Restrictions - Current proposed ordinance, effectively ZONES OUT collective facilities and creates a de facto ban in the unincorporated areas of San Diego County. There are zero locations where collective facilities could locate according to proposed zoning requirements. The County’s Staff report and maps do not take into account the developed vs undeveloped land and are not a correct representation of reality. Our analysis and mapping show clearly that there are no locations where a collective facility could locate under this ordinance. At the least, the following categories should be added as allowed categories where a collective facility could locate.

• Medical Center Commercial-C46
• General Commercial-C36
• Office Professional- C30
• Heavy Commercial- C37
• Convenience Commercial-C32
• Freeway Commercial- C44
• Service Commercial-C38
• Rural Commercial- C40

2. Sheriff Licensing - The Sheriff’s Department should not be involved at this level in setting up a business/medical facility. The proposed ordinance puts the Sheriff in the role of enforcing civil infractions which makes opening and operating a collective facility untenable. The issue of regulating collective facilities should be in the hands of the Health Department-not law enforcement as collectives should NOT be treated as criminal enterprises, rather health facilities that provide a very much needed service to many thousands of patients in San Diego County.

3. Ban on Cannabis Infused Food and Drink - A vast majority of patients in the county rely on ingesting their medicine using cannabis induced foods rather than smoking it. Banning cannabis induced food and drink unfairly restricts the type of medication a patient can have access to, and should be removed from the proposed ordinance. Many doctors specifically recommend that patients ingest their medicine through food or tincture rather than smoking.

4. Using MMIC to track patient information rather than Sheriff - San Diego County runs the Medical Marijuana Identification Card program. That program specifically and explicitly protects patients’ rights, by using only an identification number and only allowing police to check the validity of the card, not the patient’s address and marijuana usage information. If a patient has a County card, then they should be exempt from the record keeping procedures. Having a county issued ID card should be all the information that the police or any other regulatory agency needs to verify the validity of patients or track patients. The names and addresses of patients should be protected

5. Protecting Patient’s Confidentiality and Privacy - The requirement, that all patient and transaction records be maintained on site, and made available to the Sheriff at any time for inspection, places the patients at risk of federal prosecution and should be removed Americans for Safe Access contends that using MMIC as a way to verify validity of a patient is enough and should be done through the Health Department—not through law enforcement

6. Sheriff’s Inspection of Cultivation - Requiring that the Sheriff inspect and approve all locations where members are cultivating marijuana for the collective places members and patients at direct risk of felony prosecution by cross sworn officers enforcing federal law. All previous raids have been conducted by the County’s Narcotics Task Force, composed of cross-sworn officers. Patients who are cultivating for themselves and have excess that they contribute to the collective should not be subject to the Sheriff’s inspection. ASA recommends that collectives’ cultivation sites be inspected by the Health / Code Enforcement departments

7. Patient Information on Medicine Containers - The requirement to have the patients’ and cultivators’ names on the medicine container predisposes them to prosecution by federal officers and robbery by criminals who may happen upon an empty bottle. This also sets up legitimate patients for federal prosecution and essentially documents the federal felony for the police. This requirement seriously violates patient confidentiality and privacy.

8. Uniform Guard - The requirement to have a licensed uniform guard present at all times creates an undue financial burden on collective facilities with a small membership base. The requirement should be changed to have non-uniformed guards, or the option to train employees, through a County program, to look for suspicious or criminal behavior. If a requirement then it should only apply to larger collectives that can afford it.

9. Felony Convictions - The requirement for any patients with felony convictions not to operate or be part of a collective should be modified to not include convictions related to possession and personal use of marijuana. Many people have been negatively affected by the war on drugs. Violent felonies should be included but simple possession of marijuana should not be a factor in allowing an individual to participate in a collective as a director.

10. Who else in the community wants to see this proposed ordinance changed?

San Diego Community at Large
San Diego County Grand Jury
Americans for Safe Access
Drug Policy Alliance
American Civil Liberties Union
Members of San Diego Medical Marijuana Task Force
Thousands of Patients and Concerned Citizens

Prior to the Wednesday meeting, write, call, and email your supervisors to urge them to modify the ordinance to reflect more patient oriented, sensible regulations.

SAN DIEGO COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISOR EMAIL CONTACTS:

Greg.cox@sdcounty.ca.gov
dianne.jacob@sdcounty.ca.gov
Pam.slater@sdcounty.ca.gov
ron-roberts@sdcounty.ca.gov
bill.horn@sdcounty.ca.gov

SAMPLE LETTER TO SEND TO YOUR SUPERVISOR:
------------------------
Dear Supervisor (Name of Supervisor)

The proposed San Diego County Medical Marijuana ordinance, severely limits patients’ access to medical marijuana in the unincorporated areas of San Diego County. Certain provisions in the proposed regulatory ordinance would not only seriously violate patient confidentiality but would effectively ban all dispensaries in the unincorporated areas of the county. The San Diego Chapter of Americans for Safe Access has recommended specific changes to be made to the ordinance prior to its enactment. Please consider making these suggested changes to the ordinance, as it would help keep both your concerns and patients interests in mind.

1. Zoning Restrictions - Current proposed ordinance, effectively ZONES OUT collective facilities and creates a de facto ban in the unincorporated areas of San Diego County. There are zero locations where collective facilities could locate according to proposed zoning requirements. The County’s Staff report and maps do not take into account the developed vs undeveloped land and are not a correct representation of reality. Our analysis and mapping show clearly that there are no locations where a collective facility could locate under this ordinance. At the least, the following categories should be added as allowed categories where a collective facility could locate.

• Medical Center Commercial-C46
• General Commercial-C36
• Office Professional- C30
• Heavy Commercial- C37
• Convenience Commercial-C32
• Freeway Commercial- C44
• Service Commercial-C38
• Rural Commercial- C40

2. Sheriff Licensing - The Sheriff’s Department should not be involved at this level in setting up a business/medical facility. The proposed ordinance puts the Sheriff in the role of enforcing civil infractions which makes opening and operating a collective facility untenable. The issue of regulating collective facilities should be in the hands of the Health Department-not law enforcement as collectives should NOT be treated as criminal enterprises, rather health facilities that provide a very much needed service to many thousands of patients in San Diego County.

3. Ban on Cannabis Infused Food and Drink - A vast majority of patients in the county rely on ingesting their medicine using cannabis induced foods rather than smoking it. Banning cannabis induced food and drink unfairly restricts the type of medication a patient can have access to, and should be removed from the proposed ordinance. Many doctors specifically recommend that patients ingest their medicine through food or tincture rather than smoking.

4. Using MMIC to track patient information rather than Sheriff - San Diego County runs the Medical Marijuana Identification Card program. That program specifically and explicitly protects patients’ rights, by using only an identification number and only allowing police to check the validity of the card, not the patient’s address and marijuana usage information. If a patient has a County card, then they should be exempt from the record keeping procedures. Having a county issued ID card should be all the information that the police or any other regulatory agency needs to verify the validity of patients or track patients. The names and addresses of patients should be protected

5. Protecting Patient’s Confidentiality and Privacy - The requirement, that all patient and transaction records be maintained on site, and made available to the Sheriff at any time for inspection, places the patients at risk of federal prosecution and should be removed Americans for Safe Access contends that using MMIC as a way to verify validity of a patient is enough and should be done through the Health Department—not through law enforcement

6. Sheriff’s Inspection of Cultivation - Requiring that the Sheriff inspect and approve all locations where members are cultivating marijuana for the collective places members and patients at direct risk of felony prosecution by cross sworn officers enforcing federal law. All previous raids have been conducted by the County’s Narcotics Task Force, composed of cross-sworn officers. Patients who are cultivating for themselves and have excess that they contribute to the collective should not be subject to the Sheriff’s inspection. ASA recommends that collectives’ cultivation sites be inspected by the Health / Code Enforcement departments

7. Patient Information on Medicine Containers - The requirement to have the patients’ and cultivators’ names on the medicine container predisposes them to prosecution by federal officers and robbery by criminals who may happen upon an empty bottle. This also sets up legitimate patients for federal prosecution and essentially documents the federal felony for the police. This requirement seriously violates patient confidentiality and privacy.

8. Uniform Guard - The requirement to have a licensed uniform guard present at all times creates an undue financial burden on collective facilities with a small membership base. The requirement should be changed to have non-uniformed guards, or the option to train employees, through a County program, to look for suspicious or criminal behavior. If a requirement then it should only apply to larger collectives that can afford it.

9. Felony Convictions - The requirement for any patients with felony convictions not to operate or be part of a collective should be modified to not include convictions related to possession and personal use of marijuana. Many people have been negatively affected by the war on drugs. Violent felonies should be included but simple possession of marijuana should not be a factor in allowing an individual to participate in a collective as a director.

10. Who else in the community wants to see this proposed ordinance changed?

San Diego Community at Large
San Diego County Grand Jury
Americans for Safe Access
Drug Policy Alliance
American Civil Liberties Union
Members of San Diego Medical Marijuana Task Force
Thousands of Patients and Concerned Citizens

Please consider making the above described changes to the proposed ordinance as they take into account patients rights, as well as the community’s welfare. Many thousands of patients in the County are counting on your leadership and a NO vote on Wednesday’s proposed de-facto ban on safe access for patients.
------------------------

Come out and let the supervisors know that we appreciate their work on this issue however, hope they reconsider the severely restrictive regulations and adopt an ordinance that takes patients into consideration, rather than focus on eliminating safe access in our community.

San Diego Americans for Safe Access - www.SafeAccessSD.org
Get Involved, get active, make a difference! - Join ASA - www.safeaccessnow.org

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