Proposed Medical Marijuana Task Force Looks to Clear Up Rules

Much of the controversy surrounding medical marijuana dispensaries in San Diego is due to a lack of clarity regarding rules and regulations. City Council’s Committee on Public Safety and Neighborhood Services hopes its proposed medical marijuana task force will change that.

“It will clearly define what can and can’t happen,” said Genie Cavitt, director of communications for District 7 Councilwoman Marti Emerald, who is chair of the public safety committee.

At the July 8 public safety committee meeting, Emerald proposed an action item to form a medical marijuana task force at the committee’s July 29 meeting. At that meeting, Cavitt said Emerald suggested a resolution be put on the docket for the first council meeting in September.

“She’s the head of the public safety and public services committee and she says it’s time to hit the reset button,” Cavitt said. “It’s imperative that we protect the integrity of the program.”

The proposed task force would consist of 11 members, including medical marijuana patients, medical collective owners and operators, small business owners, legal professionals and people with backgrounds in social services, community planning, law enforcement and land use. Cavitt said city council would nominate and confirm representatives for the task force and that representatives from the City Attorney’s Office and the city’s Office of the Independent Budget Analyst will also be involved.

“They’re taking applications now,” Cavitt said. “People have been sending in resumes because it’s going to be a professional task force.”

The task force plans to operate for a year and meet with city council twice during the process. Cavitt said the task force will meet and clearly define or establish new guidelines for patients and caregivers, structure and operation of the dispensaries and police enforcement as laid out in Proposition 215, which California voters approved in 1996 to legalize the use of medical marijuana.

“It should clearly spell out how this will be available and enforced, so that you don’t have a bunch of drug dealers going out and selling marijuana and people who really need to get medical marijuana ought to be able to get it,” Cavitt said. “It’s going to regulate the collectives.”

A proposed medical marijuana task force comes a week after the San Diego County board of supervisors voted to impose a 45-day moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries. The moratorium is designed to allow time for the county to draft rules and regulations regarding use and distribution of marijuana for medicinal purposes.

“The county people have been fighting this all along and they’ve been spending a lot of money tying it up in court,” Cavitt said. “It’s such a complicated issue.”

– Article from San Diego News Network on August 17, 2009.