Today the San Diego medical marijuana community came out by the hundreds to the City Council meeting, in what was the largest attendance this City Council has seen at a meeting on any issue. Some media outlets estimated the attendance at around 600 people today.
The day started at 11:30, when almost a half hour before the scheduled start time of the rally, there was already people gathered at the Federal Courthouse preparing for the rally. By the time noon came around the small group had grown to a few dozen people, and closer to 12:30 it was a full blown protest with hundreds of people gathered and chanting “Stop the Ban”, “Amend and Approve”, and everyone’s favorite, “What do we want? Safe Access, When do we want it? Now!”
At 1:00pm the protesters began the march down Broadway and brought their voices to the City Hall, bringing downtown to a halt. At 1:30 people slowly began to file into the City Council Meeting.
It took over two hours to get everyone into the room and through security. As people continued to file in, the main City Council chamber that fits 400 quickly filled up. The two overflow rooms located on the same floor also filled up leaving at over a hundred people in the lobby not able to come in because of the lack of space. The city decided to open the “Silver Room” in the adjacent building to accommodate the rest.
Public testimony took over five hours and the vast majority of the speakers were in opposition to the ordinance. After hearing everyone who put in a slip to speak, the council began debating the ordinance closer to 7pm.
After a brief debate the council voted 5-2 to amend and approve the ordinance. The amendments included:
- Reducing proximity restrictions to 600 feet from all the previously listed sensitive uses (Churches, Parks, School, etc)
- Conditional Use Permit Process 3 as opposed to Process 4 which was originally proposed.
- Once approved, the land use permit would be valid for 5 years.
- The Mayor has 30 days to come up with an implementation plan for the ordinance as well as a price tag for the permit.
The City Council did not address whether collectives currently open would be grandfathered in and the fear among many is that all collectives currently open in the city would still be forced to shut down.
Even the small concessions made by the City Council today, would not have been possible had it not been for the most unprecedented public opposition that the council has ever seen on an issue.
The Medical Marijuana community proved to the politician’s in San Diego that they are a political force to be reckoned with.
Today we were able to bring a historic number of people to the city council meeting, over the last month we have collected and sent in over 3,700 letters of opposition, as well as have continuously lobbied the council members, and still we ended up with an ordinance that does not nearly go far enough to protect the rights of patients.