War Against Pot Continues in San Diego County

by on May 24, 2018 · 8 comments

in San Diego

San Diego County sheriffs raid an unlicensed cannabis shop in Spring Valley, May 24, 2018.

Today in Spring Valley – an unincorporated community of San Diego County – sheriff deputies raided an unlicensed marijuana dispensary on Troy Street. This effort demonstrates that the war against pot continues in this area of California.

Twenty-two years after the voters of California legalized medical cannabis and a year and half after voters over the state voted to legalize recreational marijuana, the County of San Diego pushes on against the will of the people, cracking down on pot shops.

The current crop of County supervisors voted in March 2017 to prohibit any marijuana operations in the unincorporated areas of the County and phase out existing ones.

According the San Diego Union-Tribune:

County officials are trying a new tactic in their fight to shut down unpermitted marijuana dispensaries in Spring Valley — giving property owners 10 days to cease the illegal business operations or face losing access to their buildings.  And they say the approach seems to be working.

Sheriff’s investigators have targeted a dozen illegal dispensaries in this East County community for more than a year, serving warrants resulting in the seizure of about 7,000 pounds of cannabis products, five firearms and $85,000 in cash….

Owners are being given notices warning them they have 10 days to remove the illegal business or risk having the building “boarded up and secured.” “In order to correct this violation you are required to abandon the marijuana dispensary use and establish a new legal use and occupancy,” the notices say.

To secure a building, county workers may board up doors and windows or even erect a fence around the structure, said county spokeswoman Jessica Northrup. So far, four illegal dispensaries have complied with the order to remove their illegal businesses after being given the 10-day notice, said sheriff’s Sgt. Matt Cook.

With these tactics and policies, San Diego County remains one of the most reactionary, anti-pot jurisdictions in California. It was our District Attorney – then Bonnie Dumanis – who contested the 1996 medical marijuana law all the way to the California Supreme Court. She lost, of course, but used our tax money to play out her pet project.

Now, with the passage of Prop 64, some counties, like San Francisco, have set up fast-track technology to allow people convicted of marijuana offenses in the past to have their convictions dismissed or reduced to misdemeanors. From Huffington Post:

San Francisco’s top prosecutor is working with a tech nonprofit to develop an app that would automate the process for individuals with past marijuana convictions to get those offenses cleared from their record, the San Francisco district attorney’s office announced Tuesday.

Now, of course, San Diego County has done no such thing. People with old pot convictions have to file for dismissals the old way here.

And we also find that pot sales have fallen short of their initial projections. Tax revenue from licensed pot sales will be less, as total sales in 2018 will reach only $1.9 billion – down from the projection of $3.8 billion. Still – almost 2 “Bs” – as in billions. So, why the lesser number? It’s the freaking cities and counties of the state themselves. An industry analyst stated:

Most cities in California have refused to allow pot businesses, and there are tough rules for those who want state licenses to grow, distribute and sell marijuana. Both are to blame for the lower-than-projected sales, …

Only about 30% of California’s 540 cities and counties have authorized some form of commercial cannabis activity, according to Amy Jenkins, a spokeswoman for the California Cannabis Industry Assn. That, she said, is “forcing consumers to turn to the illicit market.”

There is pending legislation apparently that will if passed lower the state excise tax on marijuana sales from 15% to 11%. This would, it is hoped, make it more financially appealing to state residents who are still turning to the black market to buy cannabis.

All of this was totally predictable.

The cities who have made pot dispensaries “legal” have made the endeavors so expensive that few can take up the challenge. Plus the number of licensed dispensaries and storefronts authorized by our government are so low that many pot smokers shop at the unlicensed storefronts.

And we should mention, while San Diego County officials refuse to abide by the will of the people, unlicensed storefronts make many contributions to the neighborhoods in which they operate. Many people are employed; new monies are pumped into poor and low-income communities; neighborhood businesses from gas stations to markets benefit.

Maybe most importantly, these storefronts without licenses are supporting the will of the people.

Remember, some of these County Supervisors seats are up for election this Primary. Make your will known … again.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

retired botanist May 25, 2018 at 5:11 am

Talk about obstructionist…its just galling that people in SD County have had to fight so hard for their right to dispensaries.

And yet, it would seem that the Alcohol Licensing Board is unbridled and completely out of control…to wit alcohol licenses in OB are 300% over what they should be…. go figure :-(

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Andy Anon May 25, 2018 at 2:37 pm

It’s a shame that regs are burdensome and many and I’ve always been a bit of a libertarian at heart, but it’s legal now in this state and the legal market that is playing by the rules will get more competitive and successful if we enforce the rules. Spend ones energy on minimizing the rule in Cali but I’m all for enforcing a level playing field.

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Peter from South O May 26, 2018 at 3:25 am

The recent defeat of a measure to lower the State tax percentage on marijuana to make legal weed more competitive price-wise contrasted with the “lower than forcast” tax collected since recreational was legalized . . . it is getting pretty obvious that the free market is so constrained by restrictions (and the paucity of permitted dispensaries) that it is not operating as the public evisioned with their vote.

At LEAST the City of SD is making a token effort to allow legal sales. Why do I say ‘token’? Let us put this in perspective: what if there were only ten liquor stores in the whole flippin’ city and all of the products there had to be packaged in child-proof outer packaging. Sigh.

It is becoming obvious that we need to revisit the language of the law granting such regulatory leeway to local city councils that supression is more the rule than the exception (most noteably demonstrated by the paucity of legal shops anywhere North of LaJolla).

As to the illegal storefronts being shut down by the cops? It’s all about the money now (as I recall, there used to be feds called revenuers).

“History may not repeat itself, but it often rhymes” MARK TWAIN

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RB May 26, 2018 at 6:43 am

Now that the heavy hand of government is being revealed to big government type progressives with their fees, taxes, and regulations, perhaps pot’s lasting benefit is its ability to create libertarians…….

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Chris May 26, 2018 at 7:03 am

Until federal prohibition is repealed, situations like this are not going to change.

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Christo E May 29, 2018 at 5:49 am

Kind of an over-simplified view. Yes, a lot of dispensaries help their communities and I’m the first to say let’s get every city on board so I don’t have to go so far to get good, tested weed. But there are a LOT of illegal shops who, whether the contribute to the community or not, they are still unscrupulous people. Human trafficking, drug sales (not weed), prostitution….those dispensaries are a joke to the people looking for nice clean weed whether it’s for medicinal use or rec. I don’t want to walk into a crack house with strong out hookers just to buy an eighth or cartridge.

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Frank Gormlie Frank Gormlie May 30, 2018 at 1:02 pm

Christo E – what are you talking about, mi amigo; over the last several years, I’ve been in probably over a dozen pot shops and NONE of them resemble the picture you’ve drawn: “crack house with strung out hookers”!!!

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James June 13, 2018 at 5:51 am

Why is the war against pot even happening. This is so silly

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