First day of medical marijuana permit application process

San Diego’s new medical marijuana ordinance will allow a few dozen collectives to open legally – meaning other collectives currently in business will have to close their doors. To get their application in first, some were willing to wait and wait, determined to be the first in line.

“We believe in the cause, and we want to be one of the ones who is in this frontier,” said Michael Banki, dispensary permit applicant.

When the city’s Office of Development Services opened early Thursday, people like Mark Fowler were ready with their paperwork.

“I’m doing that for myself,” said Fowler. “I’m currently have Multiple Sclerosis, and my primary focus is for the accessibility.”

After passing new regulations last month, the city of San Diego is going to issue conditional use permits, so new collectives can operate. They do have to comply with zoning restrictions by law, and the collectives must be more than 1,000 feet from a school, church, park or youth center, as well as 100 feet from a private residence.

“We took in 32 applications today,” said project manager Edith Gutierrez, of the Office of Development Services.

The permit process, spanning six months or more, will cost tens of thousands of dollars and involves three phases. In the final phase, the applicant goes through a hearing.

“City staff will present the project to the hearing officer, and the hearing officer ultimately makes the decision if the conditional use permit will be approved or denied.”

But patients who rely on certain dispensaries now may have to find other sources in the interim.

“One thing that the city hasn’t looked at, is the next 6 to 9 months – where legitimate medical marijuana patients are to get their medicine in the meantime,” said advocate for medical marijuana access Eugene Davidovich.

The dispensary known as the Golden Gate Collective is operating behind unmarked doors in North Park. City officials say all current dispensaries, such as Golden Gate, under law are illegal and they may be forced to close in a matter of months. KUSI stopped in at several dispensaries, but no one at the North Park shop on University was talking. At another location on 30th Street, we were stopped at the gates, but a man who identified himself as the building owner says the dispensary has been given a 60 day notice to get out.

“It just gives a bad name for the neighborhood, there’s a dispensary right next to where you work,” stated Esteban Martinez, neighbor to a dispensary.

Martinez works in a cellular store a few doors away from a dispensary and says he won’t be sorry to see it fold.

“Sometimes, you hear walking down the street ‘I sold this guy this much for that much, and I’m making a big profit off of it The dispensary sells it to me for this price, and I’m selling it to them for more.'”

The days for these pot shops may be numbered. Permits are limited to no more than four in each of the nine council districts, making these permits a coveted prize to be awarded to only a select few. If all goes smoothly, the first permit for a legal dispensary could be issued by the city in about six months. The City Attorney’s office is trying to shut down close to 60 dispensaries that are currently in business in San Diego.

Categories: KUSI