Voters May Save Pot Dispensaries

Ballot initiative would keep pot shops open, give back sales tax to city

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK

    Medical marijuana dispensaries that are being run out of San Diego have unveiled a proposed ballot measure to help them survive.

    The proposed initiative would set a 2.5-percent sales tax for the storefront collectives and prohibit them within 600 feet of schools and playgrounds. The 18-page measure also lays out security and inspection requirements.

    "Our intent is to bring back safe access to medical cannabis for qualified patients," said Jessica McElfresh with the Patient Care Association of California, which helped to draft the proposal.

    Proponents will need to collect about 62,000 voter signatures to qualify the measure for the November ballot.

    "Voters have almost always overwhelmingly supported medical marijuana responsible regulation," McElfresh said.

    San Diego's city attorney has sued collectives for violating local zoning laws.

    Federal authorities also are cracking down on the dispensaries and even if the local initiative passes they'd remain illegal under federal law. Last month, the U.S. Attorney’s Office sent a letter to pot shop landlords, saying if they do not kick out the dispensaries, the landlords could lose their own property.

    In October, a San Diego court ruled that marijuana dispensaries could not be permitted within the city limits.

    “I think it is clear that building owners and dispensaries that don’t voluntarily close their doors will be held accountable for violations of the law,” said City Attorney Jan Goldsmith said in a media release in October. “We are obligated to enforce the law and we will do so.”

    The initiative would address the city’s ordinance, according to the Patient Care Association of California’s website.