Five Medical Marijuana Activists Arrested Today at San Diego City Council Protest
Patients, supporters resist passage of flawed ordinance & forced closure of all city collectives
San Diego, CA -- Five medical marijuana activists were arrested today in the San Diego City Council chambers protesting the final vote on a local distribution ordinance, which advocates say imposes a citywide de facto ban on collectives. During the hearing, members of the "Stop the Ban Campaign" -- a coalition of over 20 local, state, and national groups spearheaded by Canvass for a Cause and the San Diego Chapter of Americans for Safe Access (ASA) -- repeatedly chanted "We demand safe access," disrupting the session, forcing council to clear the chambers, and postponing a critical vote on the ordinance.
The Stop the Ban Campaign has demanded that the City Council amend its ordinance to include a compliance period that will avoid the immediate closure of more than 100 facilities currently serving thousands of area patients, and to open up available space in the city so that collectives can actually relocate. Unfortunately, despite years of study, thoughtful recommendations from a city-appointed task force, countless letters received from constituents, hundreds of supporters at the last public hearing, the City Council has so far refused to acknowledge the recommendations of experts and the will of the people.
"The patient community in San Diego will not be deterred despite the efforts of the City Council," said ASA San Diego Chair Eugene Davidovich, one of the protest organizers and people arrested today. "One way or another San Diego patients will gain safe access to their medication, but it would be much more effective for the city to work with us instead of fighting us at every step of the way."
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Prior to the bill's first reading on March 28th, the Stop the Ban campaign organized the largest letter-writing campaign in the city’s history, during which San Diego residents wrote in opposition to the ordinance, requesting the passage of specific amendments. The ordinance was also opposed by the Chair and Vice-Chair of the City’s Medical Marijuana Task Force. Left with little option, activists chose nonviolent civil disobedience to protest the council's decision to ignore years of citizen and expert input into the development of regulations.
Advocates are now targeting San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders, urging him to reject the bill and tell the City Council to come back with a version that reflects the community's input. While litigation is likely to result from the passage of the ordinance in its current form, there is another move afoot. The San Diego chapter of ASA in collaboration with the Stop the Ban Campaign submitted a ballot proposal to the city clerk on Monday in an attempt to put the issue before the voters. A little-used process involving the city's Rules Committee, could prompt a public hearing on the proposed measure and if approved by the committee would be sent to the council for placement on the next election's ballot.