On Friday, a team of community activists converged on Imperial Beach, began circulating a petition and gathering signatures to place the Safe Access Ordinance of Imperial Beach (IB) on the November 2012, ballot.
If passed, the measure would overturn the City’s current ban on safe access to medical marijuana and replace it with reasonable zoning regulations and operational requirements for medical cannabis dispensing collectives and cooperatives wishing to operate in the City.
The Imperial Beach City Council began working on this issue two years ago when Marcus Boyd, the Vice Chair of San Diego Americans for Safe Access and local business owner in Imperial Beach, brought the issue to them at a council meeting.
At that time, the city denied Mr. Boyd’s request for a business license and adopted a temporary moratorium, promising to conduct research and return a reasonable ordinance in just a few months. Two years, later instead of adopting an ordinance that allows safe access, the city approved an outright ban.
In weeks leading up to the vote, the Imperial Beach Patch conducted an analysis of crime in and around the area of existing dispensaries in South San Diego, and found that there was no increase, rather a decrease in crime. In addition, hundreds of letters signed by Imperial Beach residents were sent to the council urging them to adopt sensible regulations instead of ban and dozens of patients and citizens came out and voiced their opposition directly to the Council members at their meetings. Still the council voted to ban.
One of the more notable advocates for patient’s rights to voice opposition to the ban was Congressman Brian Billbray’s daughter, cancer survivor, and medical cannabis patient Brianna Bilbray.
After years of lobbying, writing letters, and attending city council meetings, the community was left with no choice but to take their plea to the voters.
The Safe Access Ordinance of Imperial Beach, a collaborative effort between Canvass for a Cause, Americans for Safe Access, and concerned citizens in Imperial Beach, was filed with the City Clerk’s office on March 5th. Within 15 days as required by state law the Clerk returned a ‘Title and Summary’ prepared by the Imperial Beach City Attorney, of the proposed measure.
Even though the California Election code requires the City Attorney give a true and impartial statement, not likely to create prejudice for or against the proposed measure the summary written by the Imperial Beach City Attorney was anything but true and impartial. In line with their tactics of doing all they can to derail safe access efforts in the city the summary was a clear attempt to misrepresent and misinform the voters reading it.
Although the law does allow for a legal challenge to be introduced against the wording provided by the city in the form of a ‘Writ of Mandate’, the decision was made to move forward with the signature gathering effort and avoid costly and lengthy litigation in order not to delay gathering the signatures any further.
On Thursday March 22, to satisfy yet another legal requirement, the ‘Title and Summary’ along with the text of the entire initiative was published in the Imperial Beach Eagle and Times, allowing the signature effort to legally commence.
To place the measure on the ballot a little over 1,000 valid signatures are required. The campaign’s goal however, is to gather at least 2,000 valid signatures, to ensure there are enough to qualify.
On Friday of last week, the first day of circulation, activists collected over 70 signatures in less then three hours. Although rainy and cold, Saturday and Sunday still saw several signature gatherers spread out through the City talking to voters. The effort will continue daily until at least 2,000 signatures are gathered.
To keep track and provide accurate reporting on the funds raised and expenditures incurred in support of the ordinance, the ‘Support Safe Access to Medical Marijuana Ordinance of Imperial Beach, Sponsored by Canvass for a Cause, with help from Americans for Safe Access and its local chapters,’ Political Action Committee (PAC) was organized.
“Legitimate patients deserve safe and reasonable access to their medicine. Right now, HIV/AIDS and other seriously ill patients are being criminalized for use of their medicine as a direct result of local government officials”, said Rachel Scoma, Co-Executive Director of Canvass for a Cause and Treasurer of the new PAC. “We need to ensure that seriously ill residents in Imperial Beach can obtain and use cannabis for medical purposes in accordance with California law”.
To volunteer with the campaign, sign up here or stop by one of the regularly scheduled volunteer meetings every Saturday from 2pm-4pm at the campaign headquarters, 1233 Palm Ave, Imperial Beach CA 91932
Press Release From San Diego ASA