Controversy over marijuana dispensary permits - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Controversy over marijuana dispensary permits

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(AP photo) (AP photo)

SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) – While the San Diego city attorney and the police department team up to bust dozens of illegal pot shops the city continues to grant licenses for legal marijuana dispensaries.

The green light was given to two more this week and one of them is next to a center that helps children.

“It's about 55 feet away from door to window,” said Robert Dean, Vista Hill Foundation CEO.

Part of the center helps children in the welfare system. The law requires a medical marijuana dispensary to be at least 1,000 feet away from a “child-oriented facility”. CBS News 8 is told the center is not viewed as a primary use for children, therefore does not qualify as a restriction.

“These are children who need protection our view is that a rational person would look at that and that is the common thread, protect the kids,” said Dean.

In the Midway District, there's problems too. Only four dispensaries are allowed in each city council district and there is some tough competition and applicants are speaking against each other. On Hancock Street, there is a handful of applicants. The Development Services Department granted a licenses to operate 3452 Hancock Street. However, there are applicants for a dispensary license at 3421 and 3430. Whoever gets the permit first puts others in jeopardy because they can't operate within a 1,000 feet of each other.

“Is it fair or is not fair? That's business you're always going to have competitors,” said Kimberly Simms.

She is an attorney who represents applicants who haven't had a hearing. For attorney client privileges she did not want to divulge who she represents. Simms is also a member of the Alliance for Responsible Medicinal Access. The group supports licensed dispensaries that provide safe access to patients.

Restrictions allow 36 dispensaries to operate and she predicts as more licenses are granted unregulated shops will close. She wants to make sure there is safe and equal access for all patients.

“Medical marijuana has been around since 1996 and it's not going anywhere,” said Simms.

The owners of Zen SD and the dispensary at 3452 Hancock Street did not want to comment. They were granted a license on December 3.

The appeal period ends 10 days after the licenses are granted. 

An appeal has been filed against A Green Alternative. The city granted its first license to the Otay Mesa store in October. A hearing scheduled for Dec 18.

Currently, there is not a licensed dispensary operating in the city of San Diego. About 50 unregulated medical marijuana dispensaries are estimated to be operating but City Attorney, Jan Goldsmith says he has shutdown at least 200 in the past four years.

Recently, Goldsmith's office and San Diego police busted an unlicensed shop and found drugs and guns.

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