Inside look at SD's first legal dispensary - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Inside look at SD's first legal dispensary

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  • Planning commission approves new Otay Mesa pot dispensary

    Planning commission approves new Otay Mesa pot dispensary

    Friday, January 30 2015 10:37 AM EST2015-01-30 15:37:07 GMT
    An appeal of a conditional use permit granted to a San Diego State University business professor to operate a medical marijuana dispensary in Otay Mesa was unanimously denied by the city's Planning Commission Thursday. 
    An appeal of a conditional use permit granted to a San Diego State University business professor to operate a medical marijuana dispensary in Otay Mesa was unanimously denied by the city's Planning Commission Thursday. 

OTAY MESA (CBS 8) – Two more legal medical marijuana dispensaries have been approved in San Diego.

This brings the total of 3 conditional use permits issued to cooperatives.

On Thursday, the San Diego Planning Commission approved a medical marijuana dispensary in San Ysidro at 658 E. San Ysidro Boulevard and another in Kearny Mesa at 8888 Clairemont Mesa Boulevard.

While it could take a month or more for those locations to open, the first one approved in January, A Green Alternative, is about to open its doors in Otay Mesa.

“We have reached amazing milestones,” said Bob Walder, Chief Financial Officer and Chief Medical Officer, A Green Alternative.

A Green Alternative is located in strip mall near Brown Field Airport at 3325 Roll Drive.

Under the ordinance there are strict regulations which were approved in April, 2014 that include distance requirements within schools and residential neighborhoods, which only allows 36 in the city.

“This entire project is to serve patients,” said David Blair, Ph.D., A Green Alternative CEO.

He and the owners have faced resistance but the city is moving forward and so is A Green Alternative with its $400,000 investment.

“This is not a pot shop, this is a medical marijuana dispensary,” said Blair.

The dispensary will expand smoking methods to offer several products including edibles, vaporizers and drinks.

“If we don't have it and people ask for it, we will find it but it won't be just something that someone is cooking up in the backyard,” said Walder.

Security will be important. Owners at A Green Alternative say it is going beyond the city requirement of an armed guard and will have one on the premises 24 hours. When patients walk into the cooperative they will have to through a metal detector. Video surveillance is also a city requirement and the owners plan to install a total of 16 cameras on the inside and outside of the building.

It will have a staff of 15-17 associates, who are not called ‘bud tenders' like other shops. Owners say its employees have also gone through the required FBI background check. Windows are bullet resistant, doors and walls are lined with bullet proof fiberglass, "Will stop almost every weapon,” said Walder.

Blair says neighboring businesses do not have to worry about a line out the door because they have leased space a few suites down that will be a waiting room only for overflow.

“We have gone all out, we really have. We want to show how others can do it and do it nicely,” said Blair.

The city is scheduled to give A Green Alternative its final inspection next week. If it passes inspection, March 18, is planned for a soft opening and that following Friday will be a ribbon cutting.

During the Planning Commission meeting on Thursday, members delayed making a decision for another week for a Midway location at 3452 Hancock Street.

On Thursday, a Superior Court judge denied a legal challenge to San Diego's medical marijuana ordinance on environmental grounds.

The Los Angeles-based Union of Medical Marijuana Patients argued by requiring dispensaries in commercial and industrial zones only the city's ordinance forces patients to drive long distances which will cause air pollution.

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