OB – the “Haight-Ashbury of San Diego” – Not Eligible for Medical Marijuana Dispensary – But Midway Is

by on July 31, 2014 · 10 comments

in Civil Rights, Culture, Economy, Environment, Health, History, Ocean Beach, San Diego

OB Hostel emily fagan

the Hippie Hotel – by Emily Fagan

San Diego’s Community Planning Groups Lobbied by Anti-Weed Group

Apparently, according to the new City of San Diego ordinance passed in March that regulates them, OB, the “Haight-Ashbury of San Diego” can’t have a medical marijuana dispensary.  But the community of Midway can have a number.

It’s not just Ocean Beach – as the ordinance severely restricts dispensaries in most communities of San Diego. They are only allowed in a limited number of industrial and commercial zones. They also have to be:

  • at least 100 feet away from residential property and
  • at least 1,000 feet from schools,
  • playgrounds,
  • libraries,
  • parks,
  • churches
  • and facilities focused on youth activities.

That excludes OB – the community that most resembles the “hippie capital” of America, the Haight up in San Francisco.  Beginning in 1967, Ocean Beach became synonymous with hippies, pot, rock and roll,  – OB became for years the center of the counter-culture for San Diego.

Former governor of California with joint.

If you were a young person during the late Sixties or early Seventies, you’d go to OB to buy a bag of weed, check out stores selling hippie attire and artifacts – like The Black – , and hopefully find some cool music.

So, it’s with high irony that OB now cannot have a legal dispensary to sell medical herb.

Now, of course, OB is in District 2 of the city council districts. The city’s ordinance restricts the number of dispensaries to no more than four in any council district.

Observers on the issue think there will be fierce competition in District 2, where 18 dispensaries have been proposed, and several have been proposed for the Midway area,  in District 2.  And the applicants for the dispensaries are being welcomed  with open arms – sort of, as the Midway Planning Group has approved each of 12 dispensaries for which they’ve held hearings, but they add several conditions, usually more additional parking.

Of the thirty-six proposed dispensaries, 27 are within three central San Diego neighborhoods: the Midway District near the Sports Arena, Kearny Mesa, and Mira Mesa.

Of the remainder, one is for Mission Valley, 2 near Qualcomm, 5  in southeast San Diego, and one is in the Torrey Pines area.

Sixteen of of the 36 applicants had reached the third stage of approval, with it being possible that the first hearings could start in early September for city authorization.

One factor that has delayed much of the process of opening dispensaries – dispensaries called for in the implementation of a state-wide ballot measure legalizing medical marijuana in 1996, 18 years ago – has been the push-back from local planning groups.

Some of the local community planning committees around San Diego have not been very friendly to the dispensary applicants.  The reactions from some of the committees have included, giving tentative approvals with long lists of conditions, outright rejections, or refusing to even schedule hearings in a timely manner. Another tendency is to create criteria for approval that go beyond the city ordinance- such as the issue of how many dispensaries would be allowed in any one business district.

Sometimes, the hearings reportedly devolve into shouting and yelling matches between advocates and opponents. One planning committee voted to oppose a shop because they’re fed up with a number of illegal dispensaries in their neighborhood.

An attorney for six of the 36 dispensary applicants, Lance Rogers, told the U-T:

“Community planning groups aren’t supposed to be about that. These groups are taking very different approaches and there could be problems with some of them legally.”

The process is already complex, costly and time-consuming, Rogers said, and the planning committees have added another element of uncertainty and risk to the process.

The Ocean Beach Planning Board – because there are no applicants for OB – has not recently had to take any stand. In the past, however, it has voiced at least a nonchalant approval for the general idea.

marijuana girlWhat is known is that an anti-weed organization has lobbied the Committee of Planning Committees as recently as earlier this year in its efforts to instill a modern day “evil weed” attitude among the neighborhood groups.

The anti-marijuana campaign has been headed up by a PB activist by the name of Scott Chipman, who has gained credibility recently by also campaigning against all the alcohol-serving bars, restaurants and stores in Pacific Beach. Scott Chipman is with San Diegans for Responsible Planning.

In fact, in PB, a sub-committee of the local planning group rejected the only proposed dispensary  and probably will be defeated again when the full committee meets on August 27th, Brian Curry – the chair – told the U-T. He said:

“There’s considerable opposition when we still have so many illegal dispensaries operating in the area.”

 Decisions by local planning groups are advisory in the permit process, as OBceans know so well, but their opinions can be decisive in the final decisions on dispensaries this year by city planning officials or the San Diego Planning Commission.


News Source: U-T San Diego

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Aging Hippie July 31, 2014 at 10:58 am

The conservative agenda: if you can’t outright take other people’s rights from them, then regulate them away with mountains of red tape.


Tyler July 31, 2014 at 12:59 pm

I said it the second it happened – Emerald’s ignorant push for a limit on the # of dispensaries per district was incredibly dumb (on top of the other restrictions). Midway should be able to have as many as they please – free enterprise, right? They are creating de facto oligopoly.

I wish there was a way to sue the city for the right to have one in OB.

Either way – by the time all this mess actually gets sorted out, it’ll be legal in CA shortly after.


Sarah July 31, 2014 at 1:52 pm

We have the family-friendly “Smoke Shop” across from the library, kitty-corner from the elementary school and around the corner from the church(es). It has such a big, bright, colorful red sign, (Cigarettes, Cigars, Pipes & Accessories) that it almost looks as if they are trying to attract children.

At some point you’d think that logic would apply.


Seth July 31, 2014 at 4:34 pm

I thought the OBPB meetings on the subject were a very high level of discourse. Was expecting the conversation to get derailed at every turn by all sorts of agendas pro or con related to legalization, decriminalization and the merits of medicinal marijuana, but people kept a good focus on just discussing the land use aspects of it. Doesn’t surprise me a bit that this might not be the case in other areas of the city.

Speaking as a private citizen, there is probably room for a couple of well-run dispensaries in OB, as long as there is some oversight and regulatory system in place. I say that not so much because I love regulation, but because the poorly-run ones are just bad all-around. Undecided on the non-storefront “delivery services” that often seem to operate as de facto dealers.


OB Mercy August 1, 2014 at 8:33 am

Of all the places to make a typo….pretty funny……

If you were a young person during the late Sixties or early Seventies, you’d go to OB to buy a bag of WEEK, check out stores selling hippie attire and artifacts – like The Black – and hopefully find some cool music.


Goatskull August 1, 2014 at 8:47 am

On a completely unrelated and separate topic, did your travel show ever go beyond the pilot which I quite enjoyed?


OB Mercy August 1, 2014 at 9:01 am

Thanks Goatskull and nice of you to ask. I’m still being represented by a big talent agency out of London and Cairo who are trying to find me a production deal, but it hasn’t happened yet. At least they believe in me!

Here is the link again if anyone wants to watch….



Goatskull August 1, 2014 at 10:15 am

Good luck and I hope it works out.


Frank Gormlie August 1, 2014 at 9:10 am

Ouch! thanks


Geoff Page August 1, 2014 at 2:02 pm

Churches? Why are churches on that list? Trying to regulate what someone thinks is too near public facilities might be within the City’s purview but churches are private facilities. Seems like that opens the door for any private business to be included in this distance ban. Besides, don’t churches all have a Big Guy watching over them, why does our City Council feel a need to include them? And what about churches that use pot in their practices? Does that mean the Rastafarians have to be 1,000 feet away from what, themselves?


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