Back to top

San Diego Mayor Releases Details on Medical Marijuana Ordinance

Sam Sabzehzar 2013-03-21 0 comments

Mayor Filner Proposed 2% tax, 5k annual licensing fee, and collectives / cooperatives in limited commercial and industrial zones

By Eugene Davidovich  |  Published in

Before he was a congressman and now a mayor, Bob Filner was a Freedom Rider.

Over the years, medical marijuana patients in San Diego have endured a lack of representation in local governments, raids, lawsuits, eradication efforts, federal interference, and outright misinformation about the issue.

Fortunately, now we have a new Mayor who sides with compassion instead of ignorance and is willing to move forward with regulations.

After attending the January San Diego Americans for Safe Access Meeting, where he promised to move forward with regulations, Mayor Bob Filner began working on a proposal to bring to council.

Friday, the Mayor’s office announced his proposal is finished and the issue tentatively scheduled for the March 25th City Council meeting. The full draft of the ordinance is available here.

Although the complete ordinance is not yet public, today the Mayors office released the executive summary that will be presented to council, the list of proposed permissible zones where collectives and cooperatives could operate, as well as a map of those zones. 

In addition, we learned there is a possibility the item might be continued to a later date in light of a more urgent city issue. We should know with certainty whether the item will be hear on the 25th of March by Wednesday, March 20.

Whether its on the 25th or another day, we need patients and supporters to come out to city hall, sign in to speak, and tell your stories. Help us urge city council to move forward with sensible regulations without delay and establish permanent safe access once and for all in the city.

WHAT: SD City Council Vote on MMJ Ordinance
WHEN: 3/25/2013 ‚Äď 2pm
WHERE: 202 C St. (12th Floor) San Diego, CA 92101

Join patients, advocates, and concerned citizens on April 22, 2013 at 2pm San Diego City Hall 202 C St. San Diego, CA 92101

That day, City Council will be discussing and voting on a newly written and revised ordinance regulating medical marijuana dispensaries in the City of San Diego.

We need all patients and supporters to come out, sign in to speak, and urge city council to approve the ordinance without delay. Over the years, medical marijuana patients in San Diego have endured raids, lawsuits, eradication efforts, and outright misinformation about medical marijuana. Now we have a Mayor who is willing to stand up and advocate for compassion rather then eradication.

Mark your calendars, spread the word, and help create permanent safe access in San Diego!

Fore more information email:

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY ‚Äď To be included next week in the proposed ordinance:
The issue of whether the medical marijuana dispensaries should be permitted to operate within the City began in earnest with the establishment of the Medical Marijuana Task Force (MMTF) in October 2009.  The MMTF was established to advise the City Council on guidelines for patients and primary caregivers, the structure and operation of cooperatives, and police enforcement.  On November 12, 2009, the MMTF issued its recommendations.
On March 28, 2011, the City Council adopted an ordinance establishing medical marijuana consumer cooperatives as a permitted use in the CR-2-1 commercial zone and the IL-1-3 and IS-1-1 industrial zones subject to restrictions.¬† In general, there were two reactions to the ordinance.¬† The first was that the ordinance was too restrictive in allowing medical marijuana dispensaries in such a limited number of zones and, second, that an ordinance allowing medical marijuana dispensaries should not have been approved.¬† As a result of the first reaction ‚Äď that the limited zones with an expansive number of buffer areas protecting ‚ÄúSensitive Receptors‚ÄĚ created a virtual ban on dispensaries anywhere — a petition to place the matter on the ballot was circulated and received enough signatures to require the City Council to either place the item on the ballot or to repeal the ordinance.¬† On September 27, 2011, the City Council voted to repeal the ordinance.
On January 28, 2013, the Mayor committed to the City Council that he would bring forward a new draft ordinance for the Council’s consideration within 30 days, and that the new draft would be based on the ordinance the Council passed previously.
This proposal to amend the Municipal Code to permit medical marijuana dispensaries is based on several principles:
  • To allow patients in need with a proper prescription access for the compassionate use of medical marijuana throughout¬†San Diego.
  • To allow limited competition in permissible zones so that patients can find the strain they need to alleviate their symptoms and to improve the quality of their lives.
  • To prevent dispensaries from encroaching on our residential neighborhoods.
  • To promote legal and responsible business practices among dispensary operators
  • To protect children from unprescribed use.
  • To protect public safety.
The draft amendments to the Land Development Code reflect where this proposal differs from the amendments approved in March 2011.  The major differences between the previously approved Medical Marijuana Ordinance and this discussion draft are as follows:
  • The ‚Äúmedical marijuana consumer cooperative‚ÄĚ has been renamed ‚Äúmedical marijuana dispensary‚ÄĚ and the definition modified.
  • The permit requirement has been changed from a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) Process Four to a Neighborhood Development Permit (NDP) Process Two.
  • The number of zones where a medical marijuana dispensary may be permitted has been expanded to include all of the Community Commercial (CC) zones.
  • The distance separation requirements from churches, libraries, and youth serving facilities have been deleted, and for purposes of ¬ß141.0614 (Medical Marijuana Dispensaries) ‚Äúschool‚ÄĚ has been defined consistent with California Health and Safety Code Section 11362,768(h).
  • The regulations state that a medical marijuana dispensary may not be located on a premises that includes any residential use.
  • The Planned District Ordinance (PDO) zones that may permit medical marijuana dispensaries are now specified in PDOs that have specialized commercial zoning.
  • Section 151.0103 has been modified to reflect the current Municipal Code section which was amended subsequent to the March 2011 hearing.
Staff is looking to the City Council to provide direction on how to proceed with the drafting of the ordinance.  Specifically, Staff is looking to the Council to provide direction to the City Attorney to draft an ordinance that will:
(1)     Require that permitted medical marijuana dispensaries only sell medical marijuana to patients who have registered their physician recommendations in the California Department of Public Health’s central registry administered in San Diego by the County Health Services;
(2)     impose a reasonable, annual permit fee of $5000 and a two-percent (2%) excise tax on all medical marijuana dispensary sales; and
(3)     prohibit the siting and location of medical marijuana vending machines in the City of San Diego.

List of proposed zones:

City of San Diego Zones that are proposed to Permit Medical Marijuana with a NUP
Use Category
Commercial Regional
Community Commercial
Central Urbanized PDO
Centre City PDO
Greater Golden Hill PDO
La Jolla
Zone 4
Mid City PDO
Mission Beach PDO
Mission Valley PDO
Old Town San Diego PDO
Southeastern San Diego PDO



MAP of proposed zones