Reporting from the City of San Diego Medical Marijuana Task Force (April 2010)

By Kim Twolan –Task Force Collective Director Representative

MMJ TASK FORCE – March 2010 Report

The schedule was accelerated to meet every Friday until the end of March with recommendations back to the San Diego City Council by April 6th.

This month various members of the Medical Marijuana (MMJ) Task Force attended different Community Planning Groups and spoke on behalf of the Task Force.  The general consensus is that all Community Planning Groups want regulations on collectives and dispensaries.

There was a report from Independent Budget Analyst presented regarding the implementation of a fee system that would not exceed the reimbursement of endured expenses; however there was no action taken.

An Ad-Hoc committee was formed and reviewed the San Diego Police Department’s current guidelines and the possession guidelines from the previous Task Force’s ordinance.  This was a report only with no action taken.

Proposed requirements to document non-profit/not-for-profit operation pursuant to the State Attorney General Guidelines for the Security and Non-Diversion of Marijuana Grown for Medical Use, August 2008

The Task Force recommends the following regulations:

No collective shall operate for profit. Cash and in-kind contributions, reimbursements, and reasonable compensation provided by members towards the collective’s actual expenses for the growth, cultivation, and provision of medical marijuana shall be allowed in accordance with State Law. All such cash and in-kind amounts and items shall be fully documented.

“Reasonable compensation” shall mean compensation for directors, managers and/or other employees commensurate with reasonable wages and benefits paid to employees of IRS-qualified non-profit organizations who have similar job descriptions and duties. The payment of a bonus shall not be considered “reasonable compensation.”

The Task Force voted against the motion that every year, each collective shall file with the City Controller an audit of its operations of the previous calendar year, completed and certified by an independent certified public accountant in accordance with generally accepted auditing and accounting principles.

It is expected that all Collective Members are potentially Growers and can grow for themselves as they are able or as they choose. Collective Members are expected to bring the excess medical marijuana from their own personal grows to the Collective where they may be compensated by cash or trade in kind. Certain Collective Members choose that their sole support to the cooperative effort will be to contribute their time and expertise in growing medical marijuana for the Collective. Growers are compensated for their time and expenses in growing for the collective when the harvest is brought to the Dispensary. Other members may participate in the cooperative cultivation of the medical marijuana, however the Growers are responsible and compensated by the Collective accordingly. The Dispensary then packages and determines a fair cash transaction amount to be paid by other Members of the Collective as their contribution to the cultivation of the medicine. Members may offer labor at any point in the cultivation cycle as their skills and choices allow and as opportunity permits.

Requirements for background checks for dispensary directors, managers, and other employees.  It was recommend LiveScan fingerprinting be required of all potential directors/managers/staff of dispensaries. Those who have been convicted of violent felonies or convicted of crimes of moral turpitude within the past seven (7) years shall be excluded from being directors, managers or staff of dispensaries.

Requirement to prohibit dispensaries from employing individuals less than 18 years of age.

Requirement to prohibit dispensaries from offering physician consultations and recommendations on dispensary premises

The following requirements were made to the San Diego Municipal Code Chapter 4: Health and Sanitation (9-2003)

‘42.1308 Permissible Amounts of Marijuana
A person in possession of a current and valid State Medical Marijuana Identification Card and/or a valid physician’s recommendation, who is within the jurisdictional limits of the City, is not subject to arrest by the SDPD for possession of marijuana, or detention by the SDPD longer than necessary to verify his or her status, or seizure by the SDPD of marijuana in his or her possession, if the amount of medicinal cannabis possessed is within the following limits:

a) Processed Marijuana – Medical Cannabis Patients. An individual who is a medical cannabis patient may possess the total amount of processed marijuana, regardless of growing method, recommended by his or her physician for the length of time recommended by the physician, not to exceed one pound, or an amount consistent with the physician’s recommendation.

b) Processed Marijuana – Primary Caregivers. An individual who is a primary caregiver may possess no more than the amount specified above for each medical cannabis patient for whom the individual serves as a verified primary caregiver as defined in section 42.1302(a) not to exceed two pounds, or an amount consistent with the physician’s recommendation.

c) Indoor Plants – Medical Cannabis Patients. A medical cannabis patient may possess a maximum of twenty-four unharvested female plants or an amount consistent with the physician’s recommendation.

d) Indoor Plants – Primary Caregivers. A primary caregiver may possess no more than the amount of medical cannabis specified above and growing in the space specified above in subsection c, for each medical cannabis patient for whom the individual serves as a verified primary caregiver as defined above in section 42.1302(a), not to exceed a total of ninety-nine plants or an amount consistent with the recommendation of the physician or physicians.

e) Outdoor/Greenhouse Plants – No unsupervised (open area) outdoor marijuana cultivation shall be permitted. Growing marijuana shall only be permitted in a fully enclosed yard with a six foot fence perimeter or a greenhouse or structure that must be locked and contained. The amount of marijuana grown in the enclosed yard with a six foot fence perimeter or a greenhouses or structures that are locked and contained shall not exceed the permissible amounts for indoor plants according to sections 42.1311(c) and 42.1311(d) above.

f) Possession of cannabis in amounts which exceed those set forth in this section by individuals asserting medical necessity or primary caregiver status will be evaluated by SDPD on a case by case basis according to the totality of the circumstances, taking into account facts such as whether the person is in possession of a current valid verification card, and whether the amount possessed is consistent with a physician’s recommendation.

(“Permissible Amounts of Marijuana” added; “Expiration” renumbered to Sec.
42.1310 and amended 9-29-2003 by O-19218 N.S.)

Our next meeting which will be our final, we will be discussing and proposing the recommendations regarding:

Packaging, labeling and transport of medical marijuana.
Adoption of a statement of concern to forward to City and County officials.
Adoption of a statement regarding medical marijuana use by juveniles.
The tasks specified and voted by the San Diego City Council to the City Medical Marijuana Task Force was to establish and advise the City Council on:

Recommendations regarding land use and zoning issues.
Guidelines for medical marijuana patients and primary caregivers;
Guidelines for the structure and operation of medical marijuana
cooperatives and/or collectives;
Guidelines for Police Department enforcement regarding medical marijuana.

The resolution establishing the Task Force, further provided that the MMJ Task Force was to report back to the City Council by the end of 2009, with recommendations regarding land use and zoning issues.

On March 24th the San Diego City Committee on Land Use and Housing (LU&H) will take up the recommendations from the Medical Marijuana Task Force as an Action Item.  The committee will be discussing the MMTF Zoning Recommendations and will consider the input of the Community Planning Groups in deciding on what to recommend to the San Diego City Council. 

This is one of the last stages in the process of developing guidelines and regulations for medical cannabis dispensing collectives and cooperatives in San Diego before the issue is addressed by the San Diego City Council.   Next month we will report back on the final recommendations to the Council.

I’d like to express an enormous amount of gratitude to: Kim Nguyen (Council Member Marti Emerald’s Office), for her diligent hard work and to Mary Nuesca (City Attorney), and Melinda Nickelberry (Independent Budget Analyst’s Office), for their information, guidance and attendance at each and every meeting.  Thank you to those who showed their support for the Medical Marijuana Task Force as we worked together, to provide safe access in San Diego.

I also implore you if you are going to speak publicly regarding medical marijuana or any other subject, make certain that you know what you are talking about and that your facts are accurate.  Take the time to research what you are talking about and have the source of your information available.  Do your own research and don’t take anyone’s word. It is very exasperating when people mis speak or skew the facts and come up blasting with wrong information.  This is a tactic that the anti groups utilize to cause confusion and take away from the goal.  There is an old saying… “It is better to be quiet and be thought as a fool, than to speak and release all doubts.”

Please stay informed and educated on the City of San Diego MMJ Task Force web site:

bringing you that fire! stay tune for more posts.

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