By Frank Gormlie / OB Rag
The City of San Diego has finally allowed the opening of the City’s very first medical marijuana dispensary. (NBC7 )
This opening of the first “legal” pot shop in San Diego comes 19 years after California voters passed Prop 215, making medical marijuana legal.
And the County of San Diego has only allowed one dispensary to open to date – a storefront opened last summer in an unincorporated area outside El Cajon.
The shameful history of nearly 2 decades for both the City and County of San Diego that viewed together initiated delays, stalls, and outright resistance to the spirit of Prop 215, stands in deep contrast to the wishes of the state’s voters.
On this issue at least, the implementation of the medical marijuana law, our local governments have been very undemocratic as they have quite openly stymied what the voters, the people, wanted.
Do you recall the raids on pot dispensaries and arrests of patients by Dumanis’ minions? She conducted many raids over the years. In one series of raids in September 2009, for instance, 14 dispensaries in San Diego, the North County, and South Bay were shut down and 33 people were arrested by armed law enforcement agents – including some wheelchair-bound patients.
Around that same time, the County Board of Supervisors initiated moratoriums on new dispensaries in unincorporated areas of the county. The then all-white-conservative-Republican Board, was notorious for its opposition to medical marijuana, and went so far – with DA Dumanis at the lead – as pursuing a costly legal challenge – totally unsuccessful – to the state law all the way to the State Supreme Court.
Our local city government was very astute in unleashing more studies and forming task forces to study and make recommendations, and then allow the recommendations to die on the vine. While the City Council created task forces and discussed implementing their recommendations, San Diego police officers were joining the Dumanis raids.
Okay, some years later, it has changed. And dialectically, today’s official opening of “A Green Alternative” in Otay Mesa is something to celebrate and will certainly give some relief – especially if you are a patient in the South Bay.
Two more dispensaries are in the pipeline to be opened within the City this Spring, one in Kearny Mesa and another in San Ysidro, receiving their approval from the Planning Commission.
One of the co-owners of A Green Alternative told the press that the facility and license process cost nearly half a million dollars.
A fourth dispensary in the Midway district just east of Point Loma has been meeting with issues at the Planning Commission and their vote on it was delayed until Thursday March 19th. However, as of this writing, there is no word on the Commission’s vote. (We have calls in and will update when we can.)
And the talk is that there will be a total of 36 licensed medical marijuana dispensaries in this town.
Even going through all the bureaucratic, zoning and legal requirements to open a pot shop, it’s difficult to finance it. One of the co-owners of A Green Alternative told the press that the facility and license process cost nearly half a million dollars.
Yet, the City’s restrictions on pot shops are so limited that even in a place like Ocean Beach – the original hippie capital of San Diego, where more residents smoke marijuana per capita than any other community – the neighborhood still can not obtain a “legal” pot shop.
And some fear that the new “legal” dispensaries will hasten the closure of the estimated one hundred “illegal” pot shops around the city and county. These storefronts have been playing a cat and mouse game with the City Attorney and DA office, and close when complaints are filed only to reopen somewhere else.
Importantly, these so-called “illegal” shops are providing medical pot to many people, and in fact, these shops are carrying out the spirit of the law – Prop 215 – more than those whom we pay to carry out the law. The medical dispensaries that are open across this county are more in tune with the true meaning of the law than our local district attorney, city attorney and police forces.
Slowly, San Diego has been dragged into the 21st century’s views and attitudes, and its allowance of marijuana dispensaries and the legal sale of pot is joining the nationwide trend where 23 states allow the sale of medical marijuana and four others — Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska — allow the sale of recreational pot.
They say that 2016 will be the magic year, the year that marijuana will be legal in California. Just remember, that the last time it was on the state ballot, more people voted to legalize pot than voted for the Republican candidate for governor.
Here’s the website of the folks who have been fighting for our rights on this issue, American for Safe Access, the San Diego chapter.