Del Mar bans medical marijuana

The city of Del Mar has prohibited the cultivation, delivery, distribution and processing of medical marijuana in the city — at least temporarily.

The Del Mar City Council on Jan. 19 adopted an urgency ordinance with a 4-0 vote to ban medical marijuana commercial cultivation, delivery, distribution and processing. Councilman Al Corti abstained from the vote.

The city needed to take action before March, when laws passed last year by the California State Legislature would allow the state to step in and regulate medical marijuana. In recent weeks, cities throughout San Diego County have adopted new rules or strengthened ordinances already in place to maintain local control.

The council of neighboring city Solana Beach voted unanimously on Jan. 13 to prohibit medical marijuana cultivation, deliveries and dispensaries.

“This is a strange situation because this urgency ordinance is basically a placeholder for taking action on the state legislation and retaining the ability to have some local control of those regulations that are specific for Del Mar,” explained Councilman Don Mosier. “I don’t see this as a pro or con about the uses of medical marijuana. I see this as a legislative action to preserve our options to be able to tweak the state legislation to better suit Del Mar citizens.”

The state passed a series of bills in September, collectively referred to as the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act, that established a licensing system for medical marijuana cultivation, delivery and dispensing activities throughout the state. Cities that don’t have rules in place by March 1 will be subject to state guidelines.

Del Mar voters in 2012 defeated an initiative that would have allowed medical marijuana dispensaries in the city.

In response to the recent state legislation, the council adopted the urgency ordinance, but also directed city staff to study the benefits of the state legislation and how it would work in Del Mar.

Two of the three people who spoke before the council did not support the ban.

Del Mar mother-and-son Linda and Tyler Strause said medical marijuana helped their husband and father before he died from brain cancer six years ago.

“We’re concerned about safe access for qualified patients that benefit from medical cannabis,” Linda Strause said.

“Medical marijuana provided Randy, a husband and a father, the ability to have some quality of life while dying, and some dignity in his death,” she added. “Isn’t that what we really all would like?”

Resident Phyllis Cardon, however, said she did not “want anything to do with marijuana or any other drug” in Del Mar. Cardon said she lost a family member to drug addiction and did not want her 27 grandchildren to be exposed to drugs in any way.

“I want them to feel safe in the time that they spend here in Del Mar,” she said.

Some council members said they supported the use of medical marijuana use, but needed to pass the urgency ordinance to preserve the city’s options.

“When you talk about providing medical marijuana and enjoying the positive benefits, it’s a substance that needs to be regulated and quantitated, and that’s part of the state legislation,” Mosier said. “We are moving in the right direction, but unfortunately, this urgency ordinance just provides us the option to get a little more time to study how we want to regulate medical marijuana in Del Mar and how the state legislations are going to work.”