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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Chronic City: Poll Reveals San Diegans Want To Regulate Marijuana Dispensaries, Not Eliminate Them

Posted By on Thu, Oct 29, 2009 at 12:30 PM

click to enlarge Medical Marijuana: Legal as long as you don't actually buy it anywhere? - PHOTO: COASTER420, WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
  • Photo: Coaster420, Wikimedia Commons
  • Medical Marijuana: Legal as long as you don't actually buy it anywhere?
It's a classic case of disconnect between public policy and public opinion. As District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis continues with her medical Marijuana dispensary crackdown in San Diego, a new poll indicates that a hefty majority of city residents favor leaving the pot shops open and regulating them.

About 77 percent of San Diego's adult residents agree that the city has an obligation to ensure convenient access to medical Marijuana and 69 percent say the drug should be treated like any other prescription drug.

Only 9 percent want to completely ban the dispensaries.

Dumanis received heavy publicity for saying there are "no such things" as legal Marijuana dispensaries, despite state law. A voter initiative, Prop 215, legalized medical Marijuana in California in 1996, and SB 420 clarified and expanded the law in 2003.

According to president John Nienstedt and research analyst Elizabeth Shield of poll-takers Competitive Edge,

San Diegans, even while supporting safe access for medical Marijuana

patients, tend to oppose legalizing recreational Marijuana use.

Forty-seven percent say they would vote against a measure to legalize

and 40 percent would support it. Eleven percent say they are unsure how

they'd vote.


Contrary to the picture painted

by Dumanis of residents being unhappy about the prevalence of

dispensaries in their neighborhoods, 43 percent have no idea whether

there is a dispensary near them. Only 8 percent are aware of a

medical Marijuana dispensary in their neighborhood, and 48 percent

believe their neighborhood has no dispensary.


The

regulations with the strongest support -- more than 80 percent -- among

San Diegans are 1) requiring employees and managers of dispensaries to

be fingerprinted and undergo a criminal background check by law

enforcement; and 2) requiring dispensaries to be 1,000 feet from

schools and youth facilities.


Also receiving

strong support, with more than two-thirds of those polled favoring,

were requiring notification letters to be sent to nearby residents

during the dispensary permitting process; prohibiting dispensaries from

locating in residentially zoned areas; and requiring dispensaries to be

non-profit organizations.


More than half (57 percent)

disagree that medical Marijuana dispensaries are associated with

Mexican drug cartels, an accusation heard frequently from anti-pot

zealots like Dumanis.


Almost half (45 percent)

of those polled admit having tried Marijuana at some point in their

lives. Of those who have tried pot, 28 percent admitted using it in the

past year. Of those who have used pot in the past year, 43 percent say

they are medicinal users. Almost two-thirds (65 percent) of those who

say they use pot medically buy it at a dispensary or via a door-to-door

delivery service. 


The poll

results will be presented on Friday to an 11-member advisory task force

created by the San Diego City Council to help establish guidelines for

the use of medical Marijuana in the city.


San

Diego, like many cities, has no land-use guidelines controlling where

Marijuana collectives or cooperatives may or may not be located.


In September, at least 33 people

operating Marijuana dispensaries were arrested in San Diego County

raids that also shut down 14 storefront dispensaries, including 11 in

San Diego. Dumanis assembled SWAT-style strike forces of San Diego

Police, San Diego County Sheriff's officers, DEA agents, and IRS agents

to descend on the dispensaries, make arrests, seize cash and weed, and

disrupt the local medical Marijuana distribution system.


The

poll, done on behalf of keepcomingback.com, a Web site for substance

abuse and addiction problems, queried  505 randomly selected adults and

was conducted Oct. 14-17 by the aforementioned San Diego-based Competitive Edge Research

and Communication. Competitive Edge has worked in the past for news

organizations and political candidates.


San Diego Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Survey (PDF)





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