San Diego Medical Marijuana Initiative Doesn’t Make The Ballot

A proposed ballot measure to regulate medical marijuana dispensaries in the city of San Diego which would also impose a tax on dispensary operators won’t be on the ballot in November, supporters announced on Monday.

The dispensary-sponsored groups Citizens for Patient Rights and the Patient Care Association were unsuccessful in getting 62,057 signatures by Monday’s deadline to qualify. The number of signatures collected fell badly short at under 20,000, less than a third of what was required.

“Qualifying a ballot initiative in the City of San Diego is extremely cost prohibitive,” the group said in a Monday press release. “Recently, the proponents of the successful Proposition B spent over 1.1 million to qualify their initiative for the ballot, according to the San Diego Union Tribune.”

Membership in the Patient Care Association plummeted in recent months from 60 collectives to only five, reports Christopher Cadelago at UT-San Diego.

In order to gather 62,057 valid signatures, a campaign must gather more than 90,000 total signatures in order to guarantee that the minimum threshold is met, according to Citizens for Patient Rights.

The same group last year collected more than 40,000 signatures to successfully repeal a city ordinance that medical marijuana dispensary operators and patients believed was too strict. They plan to try another initiative or to work with the new city council and mayor to pass regulations after the November election.

So why were only half as many signatures collected this year as last year by the Patient Care Association? According to Dave Maass of San Diego City Beat, some dispensary operators were convinced that the initiative unfairly favored certain collectives over others. This controversy eroded the natural support base of a dispensary ordinance.
“The collective directors or owners, whatever you want to call them, they’re not fighting for patients’ rights,” said longtime San Diego marijuana activist Craig Beresh of the California Cannabis Coalition back in February. “They’re fighting for profits.”

Propositions A and B, in the June 2012 Primary election, were San Diego’s only citywide ballot initiatives to qualify for the ballot since 1998, according to the group.

“Given the disruptions in the legal regulated market of medical marijuana, the money is simply no longer in the hands of responsible operators who champion oversight and regulation,” said James Schmachtenberger, president of the Patient Care Association, a group of cooperatives and collectives which supported the Compassionate Use Dispensary Initiative.

“Because of this lack of resources, we were unable to complete our signature effort, despite the sincere efforts of many patients and supporters to make this happen.”

The San Diego medical marijuana community has been severely affected in recent months by federal raids and actions by local City Attorney Jan Goldsmith. Beginning last September, Goldsmith has filed lawsuits leading to the shuttering of more than 100 collectives in the city of San Diego.

Today, fewer than 10 collectives that existed prior to the crackdown by federal and local authorities continue to operate, according to Citizens for Patient Rights.

The group said it will continue the fight to allow medical marijuana access in San Diego County. Citizens for Patient Rights is currently running ballot initiatives in a number of smaller cities in the county, including Del Mar, Lemon Grove, Solana Beach, La Mesa and Encinitas, to ensure that medical marijuana will be available to patients in all parts of San Diego County.

Citizens for Patient Rights on May 30 submitted more than 500 signatures to qualify the ballot measure in Del Mar (298 valid signatures are required to qualify an initiative for the ballot in that city).

“Our signature gathering efforts are going well in the smaller municipalities,” said Cynara Velazquez, 

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