Santa Monica Lookout
B e s t   l o c a l   s o u r c e   f o r   n e w s   a n d   i n f o r m a t i o n

Medical Marijuana Proponents File for an Initiative

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and MarkHarding Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP  law firm
Harding, Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

Pacific Park, Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica Convention and Visitors BureauWhen one lives in a city as breathtakingly beautiful and unique as Santa Monica, inevitably that city will be shared with visitors.

By Daniel Larios
Staff Writer

Editor's Note: The original version of this article stated that opponents circulated the petition.  The petition was circulated by proponents.

May 22, 2014 -- Proponents of medical marijuana plan to circulate a petition for a ballot measure that would regulate dispensaries in Santa Monica.

The initiative filed with the City Clerk’s office Wednesday afternoon would preempt a proposed Zoning Ordinance update that would allow space for as many as two medical marijuana facilities in the bayside city.

"If unregulated (the distribution of medical marijuana) threatens the interests of local neighborhoods and dispensaries as well as negatively impacting those seriously ill residents of Santa Monica,” reads the notice of intent to circulate petition.

The purpose of the ordinance is 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 notice states.

The filing comes one month after Santa Monica Police Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks, a vocal opponent of allowing dispensaries in Santa Monica, called on the City Council to back State Senate Bill 1262, which is what the potential initiative would mirror.

The bill would put the State in charge of issuing licenses to dispensaries and cultivation sites, establish Statewide standards for physicians prescribing medical marijuana and mandate State audits of physicians prescribing the drug more than 100 times a year.

The council voted 4 to 2 not to back the bill on its April 22 meeting.

Medical marijuana has been a contentious issue in Santa Monica.

Last August, the City Council voted 4 to 3 in favor of including space for a limited number of medical marijuana shops in the city’s updated Zoning Ordinance. (“Santa Monica Will Consider Regulating Medical Marijuana Dispensaries,” August 15, 2013)

Seabrooks spoke at a February Planning Commission where the Zoning Ordinance update was discussed, saying that the dispensaries would increase crime and increase parking demand.

The Commission, however, voted 5 to 1 to recommend that the Council include space for dispensaries in the final draft of the Zoning Ordinance update.

Because the Council has not taken action on the zoning code, there are no medical marijuana dispensaries within the city borders.

Councilmembers Kevin McKeown, Ted Winterer, Tony Vazquez and Gleam Davis have all come out in support of allowing dispensaries in Santa Monica so long as they are regulated.  

During the August Council meeting, McKeown has pointed to the fact that the use of medical marijuana, while illegal by Federal statutes, is protected by California law.

Councilmember Bob Holbrook, a retired pharmacist, is the biggest opponent of medical marijuana in the council, saying that he would oppose any ordinance that allows its sale within Santa Monica.

Holbrook said that dispensaries have been problematic in other cities and that medicinal marijuana is readily available just across Santa Monica's borders.

Mayor Pro Tem Terry O'Day and Mayor Pam O'Connor have joined Holbrook in the past, opposing pro-dispensary ordinances introduced by Councilmember Kevin McKeown.

Back to Lookout News copyrightCopyright 1999-2014 All Rights Reserved. EMAIL Disclosures