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San Diego officials promise to consider a pot ordinance

After a closed-door session Tuesday of the San Diego City Council, the city attorney, council president and newly elected mayor emerged to promise that the council will soon discuss a proposal aimed at allowing marijuana dispensaries to operate in the city.

Mayor Bob Filner said he wants a zoning law that will allow "those who legitimately need medical marijuana for the relief of pain to have access to it legally."

Under current city zoning regulations, there are no legal areas for pot dispensaries to operate in the city. The council adopted an ordinance but dropped it in July 2011 in the face of opposition by pro-marijuana activists who said it was too restrictive and vowed to seek a public referendum.

On Jan. 9, Filner sent a memo to City Atty. Jan Goldsmith ordering him to drop pending litigation seeking to force dispensaries to close. 

But after the closed-door meeting, Filner, Goldsmith and Council President Todd Gloria issued a joint statement saying that the council, with the mayor's agreement, has asked Goldsmith not to dismiss pending cases.

Even if the council adopts a zoning ordinance to allow marijuana dispensaries, U.S. Atty. Laura Duffy is independent of any council action.

Since Oct. 2011, the U.S. attorney and the Drug Enforcement Administration have sent "cease and desist" letters to 253 marijuana dispensaries in the region. All but a dozen have closed, Duffy said.

-- Tony Perry in San Diego

Photo: A marijuana plant. Credit: Associated Press  

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