If you haven't noticed, there are no dispensing storefronts (dispensaries) anywhere in Santee, and it's staying that way for the foreseeable future. A last week put the kibosh on any such plans.
In July of 2009, the City Council put a moratorium on dispensaries within Santee city limits in order for city staff to analyze the situation more thoroughly. A moratorium of that type may only last two years, so the issue was brought to the council for discussion last Wednesday.
City officials, including the City Attorney put together a report that recommends the city continue on its current legal course with dispensaries, not creating a specific land zoning for dispensaries, generally excluding any non-specified land use and therefore not allowing their operation within the city. According to the City Attorney, there is much precedent for cities to implicitly prohibit dispensaries in this manner. See the full report attached to the agenda in the media box.
East County medical marijuana patient and activist Dennis Boisvert spoke before the council encouraging open access to storefronts that dispense the medicine he uses (see video of him speaking in the media box). He described the city staff report on dispensaries to be "lies and biased."
"I use medical marijuana to deal with arthritis pain," said Boisvert. "There are people who need access and I'm willing to bet you're ignoring a lot of citizens in Santee.
"The county gives me a card that says it's legal for me as a patient to have [marijuana], and all I get from my community is: "Well, we're not going to give you a source,' " he said.
A few other speakers spoke in opposition to the city's stance on dispensaries, including previous city council candidate . Amongst other arguments, they also claimed the city was "picking and choosing" the two court cases that support their stance, and ignoring many cases that don't.
Two speakers representing the took the dais to applaud the city for it's continuing stance against dispensaries.
"There is access, it can be delivered, and it will be on the outskirts of our city soon," said . "We're not against people who need to use it, we just don't want dispensaries here. Small communities don't have the time or resources to open this big can of worms."
said he doesn't see a difference between disallowing chickens and disallowing dispensaries in the city.
"We don't zone for parlors in Santee," he said. "There is a marijuana Wal-Mart going on our border, so it's not really an issue of accessibility for medical marijuana," said Voepel.
The dispensary Voepel spoke about is expected to open sometime this summer on unincorporated county land near Gillespie Field at Wing and Airport roads, according to Santee City Planner Melanie Kush.
In response to council asking for clarification on the state of medical marijuana law, City Attorney Shawn Haggerty summarized the situation: In 1996 California voters passed the Compassionate Use Act which allows the use of medical marijuana when recomended by physician and prevents patient from state prosecution. It is still considered illegal under federal law.
Councilmember made a motion to go with staff recommendations, continuing to deny dispensary business permits.
Councilmember seemed stuck on the statement of one medical marijuana activist that there are three marijuana delivery services that deliver in Santee. He asked Captain Musgrove if deliveries are copacetic with city laws. Captain Musgrove replied with an unclear answer, something fairly common when discussing the varying legality of medical marijuana at a federal, state, county and municipal level.
The motion carried with four aye votes, with (ironically the one councilmember that served on San Diego's Medical Marijuana Task Force and knows the most on the subject amongst the countilmembers) absent, and dispensaries are still illegal in Santee.