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Council makes no changes to medical marijuana regulations

DEL MAR — Council members at the Aug. 1 meeting opted to maintain the current prohibition on all forms of medical marijuana but will likely revisit the issue after the November election, when voters will decide whether to legalize recreational cannabis use in the state.

The Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act, a collection of three bills that together establish the first statewide regulatory system for medical marijuana businesses, was enacted last September.

Initially cities had a deadline to adopt their own regulations. If they didn’t do so they would be forced to follow state laws.

Although that deadline was eventually removed, jurisdictions began adopting their own rules. To maintain control over regulation Del Mar council members in January adopted an urgency ordinance banning commercial cultivation, delivery and distribution.

Medical marijuana dispensaries were already prohibited following a 2012 initiative that was rejected by voters.

Since January staff members have been studying a potential ordinance amendment that would allow medical marijuana uses in the city. They also compiled data on what other cities are doing.

San Jose, for example, regulates collectives by requiring fees, mandatory security procedures and record-keeping and conducting audits and random inspections. Only indoor cultivation is allowed and deliveries are prohibited.

San Diego, the only city in the county that hasn’t adopted bans, limits collectives to certain areas and requires permits and background checks.

Councilman Dwight Worden said he sees Del Mar eventually mimicking Gustine, which only allows medical marijuana deliveries with certain restrictions.

Council members were given several options, including holding community workshops to establish regulations for medical marijuana uses.

They could also have decided to create parameters for commercial cultivation, delivery and/or distribution or simply maintain the status quo.

Four of the six people who addressed council supported the latter, citing studies about the dangers of marijuana use.

But Del Mar residents Linda and Tyler Strause were not among them. They said medical marijuana helped their husband and father deal with pain before brain cancer took his life several years ago.

Linda Stause said making the purchases was a “necessary inconvenience.”

“I hope nobody ever has to need medical marijuana,” she said.

“There is a lot of data supporting the effectiveness of marijuana for relieving pain associated with cancer and chemotherapy, as well as some other conditions,” said Councilman Don Mosier, a professor and researcher who holds medical and doctorate degrees. “There’s a little more science coming out on the use of marijuana in the last couple of years.

“Because it’s a federal Class A drug the ability to do research on marijuana has been severally impaired so we’re sort of operating in a data vacuum, which is unfortunate,” he added. “I think it’s premature to take any action since this is on the ballot in November. I would propose that we re-examine the issue after we know where that vote goes.”

“I think quality control is important,” Councilman Dwight Worden said. “I want people who have a legal right to access marijuana not to have to grow it in their backyard because it’s the only convenient way to get it. I’d rather have them get it through a regulated system.

“And if they can get it by a delivery to their home in Del Mar as opposed to a dispensary in Del Mar that makes some sense to me,” he added, supporting Mosier’s recommendation to revisit the issue in November.

“But I think in the long term we should regulate because if we don’t we’re leaving a legal activity strictly up to regulation by the state,” Worden said. “And call me arrogant … but I think we can do a better job of tailoring regulations for Del Mar.”

Councilman Terry Sinnott said he would prefer to maintain the status quo “until we have any evidence that there is a need to change it.”