San Diego’s First Legal Marijuana Dispensary Opens Doors

It’s been nearly two decades since California voters approved the use of medical marijuana. Yet many cities quickly or over the course of the years enacted local bans on cultivation and dispensing, opening those with legitimate need and good motives to the possibility of criminal prosecution, eviction and civil forfeiture.
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San Diego was one of those. But now, the city has allowed its first permitted medical marijuana dispensary, in a strip mall situated near the internal border. The lines were modest, though those who waited expressed relief they could finally purchase their medication from an approved shop in the city for the very first time. Customers said with other locations, there was always the concern the facility would be raided.

The new measure that permits medical marijuana dispensaries within city limits requires the facilities to be non-profit operations. They must allow testing of their products, and there needs to be adherence to strict zoning requirements and tight security rules. The process allows a path to legitimacy for the existing underground operations. About 50 other cities in the state have gone the same route.

Throughout the county, there are still approximately 100 cannabis shops that continue to operate without permission from the local government. But that means essentially they don’t abide by any rules. Authorities end up playing whack-a-mole to close down illegitimate operations, only to see them crop up again elsewhere.

But of course, such a sweeping ban on the practice gave marijuana providers and patients little choice but to resort to those kinds of tactics.

Recently, the county granted permission to a dispensary to open just outside El Cajon, in an area that’s unincorporated. The city has also given final approval to three other dispensaries in separate locations throughout the city. All must maintain a distance of 1,000 feet from schools and day care centers.

Customers were hopeful these operations would be tightly-run ships that would help ensure their safety and security. They pointed to the numerous security cameras, the metal detector they walked through at the entrance and the security guard posted up inside. The sign out front bears only a name, no symbols or lights that would indicate what it is or what it distributes.

Nearby businesses say they are cautiously optimistic, and they have yet to see any signs of anything improper at the center.

It’s expected that particular facility will end up drawing visitors from outside, as there are a number of other surrounding cities that ban dispensaries. The chance to obtain their medicine through an above-board, legal shop is enormously appealing to many people.

Our Los Angeles marijuana lawyers know that patients don’t want to be underground. They don’t want to risk the drama of being caught up in a sudden raid or gouged by unlicensed operators. They simply want to have access to the drug they were prescribed, without fear or hassle.

Many dispensaries operators want this too, which is why a path to legitimacy for cities that previously banned such centers is desirable.

The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 714-937-2050.

Additional Resources:
SD’s first legal pot shop opens quietly, March 18, 2015, By David Garrick, San Diego Times-Union
More Blog Entries:
Marijuana Reformers Boycott Hotel for Federal Anti-Pot Lawsuit, March 21, 2015, Los Angeles Marijuana Lawyer Blog