San Diego City Council Sets Pot Shop Operating Regs and Fees

by on January 23, 2015 · 5 comments

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

Medical MJ storefrontOB’s Councilwoman Zapf Casts Only “No” Vote

By Debbie L. Sklar / Times of San Diego

The San Diego City Council voted 8-1 Tuesday in favor of a package of amendments to medical marijuana regulations that, among other things, establishes a minimum fee of nearly $1,100 for annual operating permits.

The amendments pertain to an ordinance that sets the terms under which dispensaries will conduct their business. The operating regulations differ from land-use restrictions, which determine the allowable locations for pot shops.

“I anticipate there will be more discussion and more changes down the road as San Diego experiences these operations actually open legally,” Councilwoman Marti Emerald said.

Among other things, the City Council wants the annual permit fee to equal the cost of inspections and other expenses needed to regulate the dispensaries. The city’s projected costs include the use of police officers to make background checks, fire personnel, zoning investigators, planners and City Treasury employees.

Dan Normandin of the city’s Development Services Department said the permit fee presented to the council was the smallest for a dispensary. Larger shops, with more employees and greater floor space, will face higher permit costs, he said.

Prospective owners of the medical marijuana facilities are currently going through a costly and time-consuming process to acquire another type of permit — a conditional use permit — which will allow them to open.

No legal dispensaries have opened within city limits — the application for the closest facility was submitted by a San Diego State University professor who wants to set up an establishment in Otay Mesa, near the Brown Field airport. Approval of his permit has been appealed. The city’s Planning Commission is scheduled to hold a hearing on the appeal Jan. 29.

Other proposed amendments call for operating permits to be revoked for noncompliance; require background checks of prospective permit holders and employees; encourage dispensary operators to label products for potency; and allow for testing of marijuana for the presence of pesticides, bacteria, mold or mildew.

Councilwoman Lorie Zapf cast the dissenting vote, calling the law vague on several fronts, including whether the city of the dispensary owner would pay for product testing.

While some City Council representatives and members of the public have expressed concern over the safety of edible forms of marijuana that will be available in the shops, no action on the issue was proposed today. The current regulation calls for dispensary operators to post a sign that says county health officials have no regulatory authority over edibles.

Recent court decisions have made regulating all the issue “a moving target,” Emerald said.

Once the legal dispensaries open, they’ll be limited to four per City Council district for a total of 36 within San Diego city limits. Numerous shops operating illegally have been shut down over the past year.

One legal dispensary operates on unincorporated county land near El Cajon.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

OB Mercy January 23, 2015 at 4:35 pm

What a shock. Zapf casts only no vote. Get with the program already Lori. It’s going to be legal in the whole state here in the next couple of years. Do you not see the millions being raked in in Colorado and Washington? Imagine how we, as a city and it’s people, might benefit from all that? Have some foresight and open your damn mind already. After all, didn’t I read somewhere recently that OB has the most pot smokers per capita? You’re the district person for OB!! Know your constituents!!


Tyler January 24, 2015 at 7:21 am

San Diego ASA failed patients with these BS regulations. Everyone with a brain knew the city would throw enough red tape in there to screw us. They cozied up to Jan Goldsmith and left us in the cold.

Zapf and Emerald in particular on the council are who I’m most disappointed with.

Meanwhile in 2 years time it will be legal in CA. Will San Diego continue to create unjust regulations and leave our county at the short end of the stick in this new gold rush? They already don’t seem to care about adding jobs and tax revenue. Dozens of former shops have had for rent signs for upwards of 2 years now


OB Mercy January 24, 2015 at 8:21 am

You are so right Tyler. Once it is legalized, they will do everything in their power to resist it, to save face more than anything.


RB January 25, 2015 at 7:41 am

BS regulation, red tape, user taxes, warning labels, product testing, consumer lawsuits, ADA laws, workmens comp………………
Regulation by the Federal government, State Government, City, County, Community Councils…………

Welcome to the real world for any small business.


dd January 26, 2015 at 11:30 am

My non political view on this is: I can make a phone call right now and get medical marijuana delivered to my house. Someone is making money off of it and if I want medication I can get it. So why not make money off of it if you’re a town? Because whether legal or illegal people are buying and using it, you might as well fix some pot holes with the money.


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