San Diego County Wants $20,000 From Pot Dispensaries


Graphic: The Stoned Alien Midget

​First, they refused to issue medical marijuana patient I.D. cards, as mandated by the state — until their Supreme Court loss. Now, it’s Shakedown Street as San Diego County wants to charge medical marijuana dispensaries an outrageous upfront fee reaching as much as $20,000 for “inspection services.”

According to patient advocates, this is just the latest move in a long-term effort to keep the pot shops from opening.

The fee would cover what county officials claim is the 60 hours per week required for a deputy and licensing specialist to “assure compliance” with ordinance regulations, reports Mark Walker at North County Times.

County supervisors will consider the fee as part of a strict dispensary ordinance next week.
The outlandish proposed fee — along with a lengthy list of requirements that include handing over the addresses of marijuana providers — are so onerous that no dispensary will be able to open in unincorporated areas of San Diego County, according to Eugene Davidovich of the San Diego Chapter of Americans for Safe Access (ASA).

Photo: SDNN
Eugene Davidovich: “With this ordinance there will be no collectives”

​”With this ordinance there will be no collectives,” Davidovich said Thursday. “We’ve analyzed it and under this, there is absolutely nowhere that a collective facility could open. They’re effectively banned by what we believe are unfair and illegal requirements.”
County officials, who had previously claimed they believed there were as many as 80 possible dispensary locations in unincorporated areas of the county, have now scaled that estimate back to 20 or 25.
While the exact fee for “inspection services” is “still being determined,” according to Sheriff’s Cmdr. Ed Prendergrast, a “working estimate” of between $15,000 and $20,000 is based on the time sheriff’s department officials claim it would take to conduct background checks and “assure compliance” with regulations.
The fee is not as high as that charged by some other California jurisdictions, Prendergrast said, including a proposed $25,000 dispensary “licensing fee” being considered by the City of San Diego.
But according to Davidovich, sheriff’s deputies shouldn’t even be involved in the first place.
“Dispensaries are not a criminal enterprise, but rather a health facility that provides a very much-needed service to thousands of county residents,” he said. “This puts the sheriff in the role of enforcing a civil infraction, and this county is the only one in the state choosing to go that route.
The ordinance treats dispensaries — which are, after all, health care facilities — as if they were strip clubs, limiting them to industrial zones that are at least 500 feet from residential areas, 1,000 feet from other dispensaries and 600 feet from churches, parks and schools.
Among the restrictions to which advocates object the requirement to keep all patient and transaction records onsite and available for inspection upon demand, any time a deputy asks.
Another onerous restriction — which would be a real hardship for many patients who prefer to consume their medicine in the form of edibles — bans dispensaries from selling any food or drink containing marijuana.
“Not everybody can ingest it through smoking or vaporizing it,” Davidovich said.
About 50 medical marijuana supporters will appear at next Wednesday’s public hearing to express their displeasure with the proposed ordinance, according to Davidovich. The hearing will begin shortly after 9 a.m. in Room 310 of the County Administration Center, 1600 Pacific Highway in downtown San Diego.
“We’re hoping they can see we are working very hard to help them toward more sensible regulations that have the patient’s interest in mind, rather than trying to overturn state law,” Davidovich said.