San Diego moving backwards on medical marijuana


Leading up to the statewide California election this past Tuesday, it is probably safe to say that a majority of voters in San Diego did not realize that they were casting ballots either for, or against, safe access to medical marijuana in the city.
There were no particular referendums for reefer, no specific ballot measures for medical marijuana, but the disappointing results in the city’s District Attorney race, and a rightward-shift in the too-powerful City Council, are reportedly the result of low voter turnout.
It was a tough day at the polls for pro-cannabis activists in America’s Finest City. Another in a disheartening string of crushing blows against any legitimacy for medical marijuana in San Diego.

As a new City Council-concocted medical marijuana ordinance is implemented in San Diego, critics are concerned about the fact that the new ordinance only allows for 30-35 storefront dispensaries to service the entire city and county of San Diego.
As a result of a heavy crackdown on the 300+ storefront dispensaries that marked every corner of the map in 2011, a compounded number of marijuana delivery services cropped up, promising to hop in their vehicle and service all reaches of San Diego.
Currently, zero medical marijuana dispensaries are allowed to be open, until the ordinance takes full effect. There are, however, at least a couple dozen brick and mortar storefronts operating illegally in the city. But still, deliveries reign king since those clandestine walk-in pot shops cannot possibly service the 70,000+ registered medical marijuana patients in the city.
The incredibly restrictive ordinance passed this year by the San Diego City Council has already been panned by pro-cannabis activists across the nation for being too harsh, but as James Palen of the San Diego Daily Transcript is reporting, the City Council may not be done writing rules yet.
Many people don’t realize that with absolutely no rules in place from 1996-2014, operating a delivery service is just as illegal as operating a storefront dispensary in the eyes of the City Council. Until now, delivery services have been tolerated as an acceptable alternative to storefronts, but apparently, even that will be changing if the Council has its way.
The City Council’s Committee for Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods is scheduled to meet for the second time on the issue of regulating weed delivery services on July 16th. Palen reports that in the first Committee meeting – which was pretty much totally unreported on -ideas were proposed that ranged from realistic to ridiculous.
For example, Councilwoman Myrtle Cole proposed in that first meeting a single sentence that, if taken word for word, could turn out to be one of the most nefarious moves yet by one of the most anti-cannabis City Councils in the country.
She says that medical marijuana delivery drivers should carry a city-issued ID card identifying themselves as certified couriers. Sounds like something worth discussing. Then she cruelly slips in the caveat that the drivers must also be able to provide documentation “that they are making a delivery from a permitted cooperative storefront”.
That is the whole problem with the ordinance and regulations that were just passed on storefront dispensaries. By limiting the entire city and county to less than 40 locations, the City Council already guarantees problems with supply and demand, and ultimately, safe access to medical marijuana.
By mandating that the only delivery services that will be allowed will be ones based out of “permitted cooperative storefronts”, they just funnel more traffic into the impossible bottleneck that they themselves have created, which is far too few permits are available.
Lynda Pfeifer is a representative of another unnecessary sounding vacuum of taxpayer funds, the San Diego Development Services department. She recently cleared up any doubt about the city’s stance on weed delivery services, stating in an email to James Palen, “If we were made aware of a fixed location within the city of San Diego from which a marijuana mobile/delivery use was being conducted, we would investigate and enforce, as appropriate.”
With a new Republican mayor taking command of an increasingly-Conservative city council, any hope of amending the horrible new medical marijuana ordinance seems slim. The road to safe access got even steeper with the re-election of devoutly anti-cannabis District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis.
So you see, without even officially making the ballot this last time around, the future of medical marijuana in San Diego certainly got voted on this week – whether those at the polls, or those who were too lazy to show up, realized it or not.