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San Diego surrenders its war on medical marijuana

San Diego Mayor Bob Filner today declared an end to the city's legal war on medical pot, ordering civil prosecutors to "stop the crackdown on marijuana dispensaries."

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Harborside Health Center employee Gerard Barber stands behind medical marijuana clone plants at the dispensary in Oakland, Calif., in this 2011 file photo. In San Diego, the mayor has called off the city's war on medical marijuana dispensaries.

Jeff Chiu / AP / File

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San Diego Mayor Bob Filner declared an end on Thursday to the city's legal war on medical pot with a letter to city authorities ordering civil prosecutors to "stop the crackdown on marijuana dispensaries."

Filner, a Democrat who was sworn in Dec. 1, said in the letter sent to the police chief, city attorney and the city's Neighborhood Code Compliance Department that such shops could still be scrutinized for other code violations like any other business.

"Until we have a new set of regulations for medical marijuana distribution, I have asked the Neighborhood Code Compliance Department and the Police Department to temporarily halt all prosecutions of city zoning code violations when it comes to medical marijuana dispensaries," Filner said in a statement.

He added that he plans to bring a proposed ordinance on the matter to the city council soon to regulate marijuana dispensaries to close a regulatory gap that had allowed the shops to be prosecuted on zoning violations.

The announcement signals a sea change in dispensary prosecutions in California's second largest city, with a population of 1.3 million. In 2011, the city attorney launched code enforcement action lawsuits against more than 100 medical marijuana dispensaries and shut most of them down.

City Attorney Jan Goldsmith responded to Filner's call for an end to the prosecutions in a letter that said, "We will, of course, comply with that direction."

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