Under new policy, San Diego sues marijuana dispensary

Marijuana dispensaries are not legal anywhere in the city of San Diego. With the resignation of Mayor Bob Filner, the city attorney has resumed the use of legal action to force dispensaries to close.
(Rick Bowmer / Associated Press)

SAN DIEGO -- The city attorney is suing to force a medical marijuana dispensary to close, a sign of a changed policy since the resignation of Mayor Bob Filner.

Soon after taking office, Filner had called for the city attorney to stop taking medical dispensaries to court to force their closure. The act was the beginning of a rift between Filner and City Atty. Jan Goldsmith.

Just days after Filner’s Aug. 30 resignation, Acting Mayor Todd Gloria reversed Filner’s hands-off policy toward marijuana dispensaries.


Gloria informed the city’s chief operating officer and assistant chief operating officer that enforcement of zoning violations by pot shops could resume.

This week, the city attorney filed a civil complaint to shut down the Central Wellness Collective on El Cajon Boulevard in the mid-city area. The complaint holds the property owners liable for allowing the dispensary to remain open in defiance of city zoning laws.

“The municipal code does not permit dispenaries in any zone and we will enforce the law to close their operation,” Goldsmith said.

It was the first such legal action this year.


During the tenure of Mayor Jerry Sanders, the City Council adopted and then rescinded a marijuana zoning ordinance.

The pro-marijuana movement, believing the ordinance too restrictive, had sought to have it submitted to a public vote.

Instead the council in July 2011 dumped it, leaving the dispensaries no location to operate legally; the city attorney followed with aggressive litigation.

A ordinance proposed by Filner that would have allowed marijuana dispensaries to operate was rejected by the council.


A new marijuana zoning ordinance, more restrictive than the one sponsored by Filner, is being vetted by neighborhood groups. The proposal should be ready for council consideration by January, a spokeswoman for Gloria said.

“What I want to do,” Gloria has said, “is provide some certainty for the patients who need it [medical marijuana] and to the neighborhoods who are afraid of it so we can tell them what the rules of the road look like. Right now we have none.”

More than a dozen dispensaries have opened in recent months while Filner’s no-enforcement rule was in effect.

Allowing pot dispensaries to operate outside the law, Gloria said, is “rewarding bad behavior.”


The action against the Central Wellness Collective was taken after community complaints and reports of fights in the parking lot of the restaurant adjacent to the dispensary, Goldsmith said.



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