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Imperial Beach Resident Pushes for MMJ

There’s a new move afoot to bring medical marijuana dispensaries back to Imperial Beach. If it succeeds, it might help end an MMJ drought in the San Diego area that has persisted since the city’s last mayor left office.

Marijuana activist Marcus Boyd, who was behind a failed attempt to regulate pot shops in 2012, has said he may push for a new ballot initiative to try again. He spoke to the Imperial Beach City Council in December and said he’ll begin working toward a ballot proposal if the council doesn’t act to allow dispensaries.

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“We have decided that we understand the issue is contentious for those who refuse to educate themselves on the medical need so we have decided to swallow the desire to provide equitable and fair access to just provide any access,” Boyd said.

Finding medical marijuana in Imperial Beach is impossible, and finding it anywhere near San Diego is difficult. Shops flourished under former San Diego Mayor Bob Filner but were targeted for extinction when he left office in disgrace in 2013.

Only one city in the county, El Cajon, officially allows dispensaries. Boyd said he frequently gets asked where patients can find weed in Imperial Beach. That’s what convinced him it was time to try again, he said.

“We have no other choice,” Boyd said. “At this point I get people at my desk on a regular basis asking me how to find it. This is kind of bad.”

Imperial Beach voters shot down the last attempt to work with dispensaries, in 2012. Prop S, as it was called, was defeated by 58 percent of the vote.

Boyd said changes are in the works to make the proposal more palatable to voters. A key change was removal of a provision that would have allowed patients to smoke marijuana at MMJ dispensaries.

“The allowance to use on site is going to be removed, [and] we’re going to limit the dispensary to city of IB residents only,” he said.

Business hours were also limited, and a provision was added so dispensaries could not open near the beach. And support for the proposal will be strictly local this time. In 2012, backers of Prop S raised so much money they became the best-funded political group in the city. This time, only 30 local residents will be involved, Boyd said.

“It will be Imperial Beach only,” he said. “There won’t be outside consultants.”

Boyd will need about 1,000 signatures to get on the ballot for next year’s election. He said his group will rely on the same people who signed petitions for Prop S, making for an easier process.

About Matt Brooks

Based in San Francisco, Matt is a journalist who has specialized in marijuana policy for more than five years. He provides regular news coverage on marijuanaandthelaw.com and californiamarijuanamarket.com.

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