Midway planners give initial OK for possible med-pot dispensary siting
by DAVE SCHWAB
Jul 03, 2014 | 10371 views | 0 0 comments | 48 48 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Midway planners are hearing requests for only a handful of medical-marijuana dispensaries to set up shop in the Midway District/Old Town area. The final say, however, falls to the City Council.
Midway planners are hearing requests for only a handful of medical-marijuana dispensaries to set up shop in the Midway District/Old Town area. The final say, however, falls to the City Council.
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The Midway Community Planning Group conditionally approved two medical marijuana cooperatives at their

June 16 monthly meeting and called a July 2 special meeting to review six more.

Group chairwoman Melanie Nickel told the packed room at San Diego Community College’s West Campus that discussion on the agendized items was not to be about the pros and cons of medical marijuana, but about whether or not proposed cooperatives fit in with the Midway Community Plan now being updated.

“We will focus on land use, health and safety, parking and security,” said Nickel noting the group’s job was merely to make recommendations as to whether applicant’s projects comply with the community’s general plan. She added it’s not the advisory group’s purview to rule on whether applicants meet the standards of the new medical marijuana cooperative ordinance. That, she said, is something to be decided later by the City Council.

Nickel’s statement was well received by meeting participants, who consisted primarily of medical-marijuana advocates and hopefuls of cooperative operations.

The new City Council ordinance allows cooperatives to operate only in industrial-zoned areas removed from residences and youth-oriented facilities.

Cooperatives are not allowed within 1,000 feet of schools, churches, public parks, playgrounds, minor-oriented facilities or one another.

Conflicting jurisdictions and rules for medical marijuana, which vary from state to state — and remain illegal under fedaral law — have left its use in legal limbo. In 1996, California voters passed Proposition 215, making it the first state in the union to allow for the medical use of marijuana. Since then, 19 more states, and the District of Columbia, have enacted similar laws.

But marijuana at the federal level remains classified as a Schedule I substance — considered to have a high potential for dependency and no accepted medical use — making its distribution a federal offense.

The Obama administration has sent a memo to federal prosecutors encouraging them not to prosecute people who distribute marijuana for medical purposes in accordance with state law.

The first two cooperative applications dealt with by Midway planners in June are located at 3430 Hancock St. and 3570-3572 Hancock St. After presentations by applicants on both projects, and discussion among planning group members of their merits, the two were conditionally approved by wide vote margins of 8-2-1 and 9-1-1, respectively.

One point of concern that among planners’ discussion of both cooperatives was whether either would be considered to be too close to youth-oriented facilities to be legal under the city’s new ordinance.

In question is whether both proposed cooperatives would be too near the Valley View Casino Center (formerly the San Diego Sports Arena) and nearby Rock and Roll San Diego, a building housing a music camp, either of which could be construed as “youth oriented” under current city guidelines.

Midway planners insisted that they expect cooperative applicants to come forward with complete plans prepared to discuss questions related to their providing ample parking and security for their facilities.

Planners were also concerned that applicants leasing portions of buildings for medical marijuana cooperatives not be allowed to expand beyond their designated areas.

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