Del Mar school board delays marijuana resolution

By Karen Billing

The Del Mar Union School District board will wait until the San Diego City Council is closer to making a decision on its medical marijuana ordinance before they weigh in on the topic, the board decided at its June 26 meeting.

A resolution was brought before the board to approve but it decided to hold off taking any action.

Board president Doug Rafner said he was concerned that a resolution might be considered too political.

“I don’t want to come down on one side or the other, all I know is it shouldn’t be near a school,” Rafner said.

In April, San Diego Mayor Bob Filner proposed an ordinance that would allow dispensaries in community commercial as well as industrial zones, including locally Flower Hill Promenade, Del Mar Heights Village on Mango Drive close to Del Mar Hills Academy school, and the future Pacific Highlands Ranch Village Center, down the street from Sycamore Ridge.

On April 22, the San Diego City Council did not back Filner’s proposal and directed city staff to draft a new ordinance, going back to the language similar to the city’s 2011’s ordinance. Council also requested that dispensaries be located at least 1,000 feet from “sensitive uses” such as schools and at least 100 feet from residential zones.

Sending back the mayor’s proposed ordinance took many of the proposed community commercial zones off the list. The closest possible location to Carmel Valley would be in Sorrento Valley, off Roselle Street.

For trustee Scott Wooden, Roselle Street is still too uncomfortably close to his Torrey Hills home.

“I would prefer it not be a bike ride away where my kids could go,” Wooden said.

A handful of speakers came to the meeting to applaud the board for wanting to make its voice known on this issue.

Resident Peggy Walker, who has worked with the San Dieguito Union High School District on drug and tobacco use prevention, said that while tobacco use has plummeted among teens, 89 percent of teens do not believe marijuana to be harmful and are using the drug more widely because it is easily accessible. Barbara Gordon, a member of the Torrey Pines High School Foundation, said that former Principal Brett Killeen has reported finding dispensary bottles on campus.

“It’s essential to protect the health and welfare of our kids,” Gordon said. “Pot shops have a negative impact on the most vulnerable members of our community, our kids.”

Judi Strang, the executive director of the San Dieguito Alliance for Drug Free Youth, has been a part of the county’s prevention collaborative Health Advocates Rejecting Marijuana (HARM), which has taken a look at pot shops since 2005. There were 230 at their peak in the county but that has now diminished to about 35, the majority of them in Pacific Beach.

Strang said 85 percent of cities in California have banned pot shops and 17 of 18 cities in San Diego County have — San Diego is the one that has not. While it is illegal in the city, there is no ordinance against it.