San Bernardino Seal

By Ryan Hagen, The Sun
Posted: 07/28/14, 8:13 PM PDT | Updated: 1 min ago

SAN BERNARDINO >> City Attorney Gary Saenz has expanded on his plan to make this the first city in the county to allow some medical marijuana dispensaries — in the hope of raising money with them to clamp down on illegal dispensaries that have proliferated despite the city’s ban.

Saenz first presented the outline of the idea and some explanation of why he felt it necessary at last week’s City Council meeting, and it was sent to the legislative review committee for review Monday. More study and public input, along with a draft ordinance, are scheduled for an Aug. 9 committee meeting.

Even limited legalization would have been unthinkable for the council a short time ago, said Councilman Henry Nickel, a member of the committee.

“It would have been sacrilege,” Nickel said. “A year ago, I think perceptions were very different on this issue, but I think we’re starting to see the formation of at least some sort of consensus that we need to have some sort of regulation. I think we’re reaching the tipping point. I think we have to have a rational and data-driven response to this, but I’m not convinced the policy of absolute prohibition is the answer.”

Palm Springs, the only Inland Empire city that now allow dispensaries, authorizes four for its 44,500 population and through a 10 percent tax expects to raise $500,000 a year or about the amount it spends on enforcement, according to a report by the City Attorney’s Office.

San Bernardino’s proposal wouldn’t cap the number, but it would limit which zones allow dispensaries and prohibit them from being within certain distances of “sensitive uses” such as schools (1,000 feet), substance abuse rehabilitation centers (500 feet) and residential uses (150 feet).

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