Medical marijuana advocates lost in four city votes Tuesday. But hope springs anew for a different result in La Mesa two years from now.
Having received signatures from at least 10 percent of La Mesa registered voters, petitioners are calling for a citywide ballot measure to legalize medical marijuana dispensaries here.
The City Council will review the measure—submitted by Citizens for Patient Rights—at its 4 p.m. meeting Tuesday.
The petition, delivered to the City Clerk’s Office on Oct. 1, calls for an amendment to the Municipal Code allowing medical marijuana dispensaries in specific regulated zones and an extra 2.5 percent sales tax on cannabis products that would flow to the La Mesa General Fund.
It had 5,142 signatures—far exceeding the required 3,041. County Registrar of Voters Deborah Seiler verified 5,135 signatures, according to her letter to the council. The drive began last March.
Citizens for Patient Rights originally said it submitted more than 6,500 signatures to the La Mesa city clerk.
“This submission is a victory for the thousands of patients, caregivers and supporters in La Mesa who supported this signature drive and is another step towards giving the voters of La Mesa a voice on whether to allow regulated medical marijuana access for the patients and caregivers in their community,” the group said.
City Clerk Mark Kennedy said petitioners could have asked the council to schedule an immediate citywide vote.
“However, in this case the petition did not contain a request that the ordinance be submitted immediately to a vote of the people at a special election,” Kennedy said. “Therefore, the next municipal election for placement of this initiative will be November 2014.”
According to the petition, the purpose of the Compassionate Use Dispensary Restriction and Taxation Ordinance is to:
Ensure safe access to medical cannabis in the City of La Mesa for qualified patients and their primary caregivers in compliance with California's Compassionate Use Act of 1996 and Medical Marijuana Program Act of 2003 through regulated compassionate use dispensaries in the City of La Mesa.
The Municipal Code currently bars dispensaries from operating within city limits. The lone pot shop in La Mesa was shut down in March 2011.
The last time medical marijuana was debated at La Mesa City Hall was a week before the November 2010 elections, when Proposition 19 was on the statewide ballot. That effort to legalize and regulate marijuana for people 21 and over lost 53.5 percent to 46.5 percent.
Mayor Art Madrid was against Prop. 19, but Councilmen Ernie Ewin and Mark Arapostathis were neutral on the issue.
In last week’s election, Del Mar voters rejected a measure to legalize medical marijuana shops by 13 percentage points. In Lemon Grove, the “no” votes exceeded “yes” by 25 points, in Imperial Beach by 19 points and in Solana Beach by 25 points.
In November 2011, a Patch poll asked: Should marijuana for medical and recreational use be legalized on the federal level? The result of the unscientific poll was 87 percent yes, 11 percent no.
In other agenda items Tuesday:
- The council will have a second reading and could vote on an ordinance amending Title 24 of the La Mesa Municipal Code adding, repealing and amending various code sections related to alcoholic beverage production.
- Police Chief Ed Aceves will present the latest Quarterly Crime Report, which notes a 12 percent decline in violent crime in a year-to-year comparison. [See attached agenda.]
- In the wake of Mayor Art Madrid signing a commendation urging for “Fair Trade Town” designation for the city, councilmember Ewin has asked for a council discussion addressing the using/providing City of La Mesa proclamations, commendations and recognitions as to city, citizen businesses, individually/organizations, etc.; use of the city seal; acceptable and authorized purposes, minimum requirements to be official documents of the city and what that implies or conveys on behalf of the city.