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San Diego Marijuana Dispensaries Face Multiple Crackdowns

— San Diego City Attorney Jan Goldsmith is mailing letters to San Diego dispensaries telling them they need to shut down because they violate city zoning laws.

San Diego doesn’t have an ordinance dictating where dispensaries can operate, and Goldsmith says that means all marijuana storefronts in the city are illegal, and can be shut down. He says that’s consistent with state law.

"Medicinal marijuana that was approved by voters in 1996 didn’t say a word about dispensaries or having storefronts. That’s a fiction of their imagination and that’s not the law," he said. "So, when you’re talking about land use, the city gets to decide that."

Goldsmith said the city tried to work with medical marijuana advocates to establish zones where dispensaries could operate. But an ordinance passed by the City Council was later repealed after advocates said it was too restrictive, and gathered enough signatures to force a vote on the issue.

Alex Kreit chaired the city’s medical marijuana task force. He says the ordinance was not perfect, but that medical marijuana supporters may have miscalculated when they opposed the regulations.

"The City Council, understandably, I don’t think is that interested in taking the issue up again because they feel like they passed something," he said. "Some members, it seems, feel like they got what was politically possible to get."

Medical marijuana advocates say they’re working to get a better ordinance on the books. For now, San Diego dispensaries are left in legal limbo while the local and federal governments move in.

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