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San Diego Approves First Medical Marijuana Dispensary License

San Diego Approves First Medical Marijuana Dispensary License


Kimberly Simms, Medical Marijuana Law Expert

David Blair, owner, A Green Alternative

The city of San Diego has approved its first license for the operation of a medical marijuana dispensary under new city zoning guidelines.

David Blair applied for a conditional use permit to open A Green Alternative in a 1,400-square-foot space at 2335 Roll Drive near Brown Field in Otay Mesa, according to city documents. A hearing officer for the city's Development Services Department approved Blair's application at a hearing in the City Administration Building Wednesday morning.

"We're at the end of the beginning and the beginning of the next step," Blair said.

Despite the 1994 voter initiative that legalized medical marijuana, some cities have banned them based on a California Supreme Court ruling that said they could.

Green Alternative still faces a 10-day appeal process, but supporters of the dispensary were upbeat.

"Today is a great day for the city of San Diego and its residents who need medical marijuana," said Dan Riffle, an attorney for the dispensary. "Doctor-recommended care will be provided by responsible members, not by dealers and pop-up dispensaries."

In March, the City Council approved a set of restrictive zoning regulations that would allow up to four collectives to legally exist in eight of nine City Council districts.

The restrictions on distances between dispensaries and houses, schools, churches, parks and day-care centers preclude any from locating in Council President Todd Gloria's district, which includes downtown, Hillcrest and North Park.

Blair, who personally uses cannabis, said that having a dispensary in town is a welcome change from when he got his first prescription in 1996.

"There was one dispensary in Los Angeles, and I would have to buy enough product to make sure I wasn't driving there more than once a month," Blair said.

All collectives in the city that don't have conditional use permits are considered illegal. The mayor's office said the permit process could cost applicants $100,000.

The city has been taking applications from prospective legal collective operators since April. The first dispensary considered legal by the county recently opened for business near Gillespie Field.


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