San Diego Passes Dispensary Regulations

Earlier this week the City Council of San Diego, CA passed the second set of medical marijuana regulations in 3 years and they still haven’t done a very good job at addressing patient concerns. Rather, they seem determined to keep the medical marijuana that California voters approved 17 years ago dangling around the fringe. Of course they made sure to throw in permit requirements that will bring the city a tidy profit at the same time.

 Let’s take a step back to 2011 for moment. Although Prop 215 was passed in 1996, the city of San Diego has continually dragged their feet when it came to implementing rules for what had become a legal industry. This meant that valid medical marijuana patients were still put at risk when it came to obtaining their medication. Things looked up in March of 2011 when the city council voted to adopt an ordinance that would have allowed dispensaries to operate in industrial zones providing they were 600 feet from  the standard places (parks, schools, churches, etc). That part wasn’t so bad, but they included a stipulation that all dispensaries currently operating in the city illegally would have to close before they would be allowed to begin the permit process … a process that could take up to a year to go through all the steps. (read more here: IndyBay)

Worrying that these restrictions would cause patients in need more trouble and put them at more risk than they may be able to handle, two pro-cannabis groups successfully petitioned the city to have the newly adopted ordinance repealed. This move essentially closed all dispensaries immediately and gave no legal way for any to open until a new ordinance was constructed.

That brings us to February 25, 2014 when citizens both for and against met at the council chambers in an effort to sway the powers that be their way. We listened to a lot of the commentary here in our office and I have to say that I was surprised at how much mis-information was being spouted as fact. Trying to weed their way through that sea of sewage could not have been an easy task.

When all was said and done, the San Diego City Council passed restrictions that most say are even more restrictive that those they put in place 3 years before. Here’s how it breaks down now:

  • Dispensaries will not be allowed to operate within 1,000 feet of public parks, churches, child care centers, playgrounds, residential care facilities, schools and other dispensaries. Or within 100 feet of residential zones.
  • Dispensaries will be required to get a conditional use permit from the city. According to civicsd.com, this permit will cost upwards of $10,000.
  • Dispensaries will also be required to obtain an annual public safety permit from the San Diego Police Department. I couldn’t find a specific cost for this one, but I’m sure it’s a few hundred at least.
  • Dispensaries will not be allowed to have doctors on-site. No “one-stop shops” as the council called them.

On top of all that, they’ve also included a cap that will limit the number of dispensaries that will be allowed to operate within any one district to 4. The location restrictions outlined above will also mean that there are some districts that won’t have any dispensaries at all. (read more here: Fox 5 San Diego).

This was not a great step forward in my opinion. I’m also wondering what the representatives in those dispensary free areas expect their constituents who are also medical marijuana patients to do in order to get the medicine they need and the state of California says they’re permitted to have.