CITY HALL — In this, the year of the petition, here comes another one.
Two residents filed an initiative with the City Hall’s Clerk’s Office yesterday that could allow and regulate two medical marijuana dispensaries in the city by the sea.
You likely know the drill at this point: City Attorneys will review the filing. If it fulfills all the qualifications, the proponents of the initiative have 180 days to collect signatures from 15 percent of registered Santa Monica voters. If those signatures are collected and validated it will go to a vote later this year.
Attorney David Welch, who represents medical marijuana patients, caregivers and advocates, filed the paperwork entitled “Initiative to Permit Regulation of Medical Collectives” on behalf of residents Melina Madrigal and Holly McKay.
“It’s just taking too long,” Welch said. “City Council has been hot and cold on medical marijuana. They need to know that it’s going to happen and if they get cold feet it will go before voters.”
Santa Monica voters, Welch claims, support the allowance of dispensaries. His clients are well organized, he said, and they will hire signature gathers.
“We’re ready to go all the way,” he said.
The measure alludes to legislature proposed by State Sen. Lou Correa that, according to the signers, “presents a clear road map for reasonable implementation of Proposition 215,” which decriminalized the use of marijuana for medical purposes in 1996. Correa’s proposal, State Bill 1262, which is backed by The League of California Cities and California Police Chiefs Association, would, among other things, tighten regulations on doctors. Council recently voted not to back the bill.
“It is in the interest of citizens of Santa Monica to have medicinal collectives operate with reasonable regulation that mirror those put forward by The League of California Cities and California Police Chiefs Association,” the initiative asserts, “in order to regulate the distribution of medical marijuana, which if unregulated, threatens the interest of local neighborhoods and businesses, as well as negatively impacting those seriously ill residents of the City.”
The initiative would amend Municipal Code to allow for two dispensaries and set tax guidelines for marijuana-related businesses. Collectives would pay $40 for every $1,000 of gross receipts.
No dispensary would be allowed to open within 650 feet of a school and 500 feet of a public park, public library, or licensed child care facility. Managers of dispensaries would be required to have annual background checks from the Santa Monica Police Department.
The dispensaries would be closed between 10 p.m. and 10 a.m. and must be monitored at all times by a web-based closed-circuit television for security purposes.
City Hall is in the midst of redrafting its Zoning Ordinance, which will regulate land uses throughout the city including the potential sale of marijuana.
The draft of the Zoning Ordinance is currently with the Planning Commission. Commissioners are making recommendations to City Council, which will likely tackle the ordinance later this year. The Planning Commission has recommended that council allow two medical marijuana dispensaries to be included in the Zoning Code. The current code does not allow for dispensaries.
“We basically took a lot of what is being proposed and tweaked it,” Welch said. “We added background checks and things like that.”
Planning and Police officials have recommended against the allowance of dispensaries stating, among other things, that they could bring crime to the city and that medical marijuana delivery services render the need for dispensaries unnecessary.
Petitions are a running theme this year. Council reversed its decision to approve a development after resident groups collected more than 13,000 signatures. A national aviation group is backing a ballot initiative that, if successful, would require major decisions about the airport to be put to a vote.