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No marijuana dispensaries for La Mesa, Encinitas

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Voters in both La Mesa and Encinitas declared on Tuesday that they still don't want their cities to allow medical marijuana dispensaries.

The votes on the cities' initiatives to repeal their existing dispensary bans, and to provide a pathway for eligible applicants to receive permits to operate medical marijuana dispensaries, fell heavily in favor of the intitiatives' opponents. With 100 percent of La Mesa precincts reported, Proposition J was voted down by 54.68 percent of the electorate. The margin of defeat was even larger in Encinitas, where Proposition F only garnered 43.9 percent support against the 56 percent of the electorate that stood in opposition to it.

The two cities' initiatives roughly mirrored each other in language, and only required a simple majority vote in favor to pass. Voters chose to instead retain the status quo in La Mesa and Encinitas, outlawing medical marijuana dispensary operations within the cities' limits.

Had the measures passed, they would have set rules for dispensaries to be permitted in the cities — rules that would, in part, prohibit them from locating within 1,000 feet of another dispensary and within a 600-foot radius of schools or playgrounds. The measures would have also required the cities to issue an operating permit and business registration to any dispensary applicant demonstrating compliance with location requirements, presenting a plan for compliance with certain operational requirements and showing that none of the dispensary directors have been convicted of a serious felony in the seven years prior.

The city attorneys in both La Mesa and Encinitas issued analyses of the proposals, noting certain legal concerns.

"Legal questions exist as to whether California and/or federal law authorizes the operation of dispensaries in the manner authorized by the measure," Glenn Sabine wrote in his analysis.

He continued to note that the questions arise because marijuana is illegal under federal law. He couldn't definitively say whether the city would be in violation of state or federal law by issuing dispensary operating permits as called for by Proposition F, or if city employees who might issue the permits could be prosecuted by the federal government.

Supporters of the measure, including Alex Kreit -- an attorney and professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and a former chair on the city of San Diego' Medical Marijuana Task Force -- argued that medical marijuana dispensaries have been repeatedly proven legal through the state's courts and legislature.

"For this reason," supporters wrote in a rebuttal to Sabine's analysis, "numerous municipalities around the state, including San Diego city and Los Angeles, regulate medial marijuana dispensaries."

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