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San Diego Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Passed by City Council

Feb 26 2014, by Jessica McElfresh in Medical Marijuana

Yesterday, the San Diego City Council passed an ordinance to set land use regulations for medical marijuana dispensaries in the City of San Diego. The ordinance passed 8-1, with Councilmembers Kevin Faulconer (mayor-elect), Todd Gloria (interim mayor), Marti Emerald, Myrtle Cole, Scott Sherman, Sherri Lightner, David Alvarez, and Lori Zapf all voting yes. The lone no came from Mark Kersey, who voted no because federal law remains in conflict (in his eyes).

So, what now? Well, first, slow down. Do not go down to City Hall tomorrow, trying to get a permit. It will take a few months for that time to arrive.

In the short term, here is what we know:

  • Cooperatives can locate in a short list of zones (IL-3-1, IS-1-1, CC-2-1, CC-2-2, CC-2-3, CR-2-1, CO-2-1, and CO-2-2) and their equivalents in planned districts. They will have to be statutory consumer cooperatives, and you should contact my office to discuss transitioning your collective to a statutory cooperative if you want to apply for a storefront permit in the City of San Diego.
  • Cooperatives will have to be 1000 feet away from the following: public parks, churches, child care centers, playgrounds, city libraries, residential care facilities (this means drug and alcohol rehab facilities), K-12 public or private schools, and minor-oriented facilities (this definition has been narrowed since an earlier draft). Oh, and they will have to be 1000 feet away from each other.
  • Cooperatives will have to be 100 feet away from residential zones. This distance and the 1000 foot distance above is measured in a radius, property line to property line.
  • There can be a maximum of four total licensed cooperatives in each council district, no matter how many compliant locations are in the district. Most likely, the City will decide who gets these permits by who completes the permitting process first, which is not synonymous with who submits the application first.
  • Cooperatives will receive conditional use permits through Process 3. The City will need time to work out the specifics of the permit application. The permit will be good for five years, and will then have to be renewed.
  • Cooperatives will have to comply with the health and safety ordinance that the Council passed back in 2011. The conditional use permit for the zoning comes first.

As for what you can do now, the first step is to read the new land use ordinance once the final version is prepared (the Council altered it somewhat on the floor) and the health and safety ordinance. Next, you should speak to a qualified San Diego medical marijuana attorney who works in collective and cooperative formation and counseling. Lastly, be prepared to be patient, both with the City as it works out the permitting process, with applying for a permit, and with seeking a location.

California marijuana laws change frequently. For updated information, see the following pages: Medicinal Uses of Marijuana and Recreational Marijuana Business