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First Legal Medical Marijuana Dispensary In San Diego Prepares For More Patients

As the first legally permitted medical marijuana dispensary in San Diego marks its first month in business, questions remain about others who are waiting in the city's permit pipeline.

San Diego's First Legally Permitted Medical Marijuana Dispensary Open For One Month


Zach Lazarus, chief operating officer, A Green Alternative

Melody Negrete
, assistant deputy director of code enforcement, city of San Diego

Business is booming for the first legal medical marijuana dispensary in San Diego as owners expect to see their customer base expand before the end of the year.

The Otay Mesa business, A Green Alternative, is the first dispensary to secure a permit and the city’s stamp of approval. It had more than 1,800 patients as customers in its first month of operation after opening March 20, earning about $172,000 in gross revenue. Dispensary owners say they may see up to 4,000 patients in coming months.

Zach Lazarus, chief operating officer of A Green Alternative, said the business is a high-quality operation.

“We have a very clean operation,” Lazarus told KPBS Midday Edition on Monday. “We test all of our cannabis for fungi, for any sort of issues to ensure the safety of seriously ill California patients. We have a lot of people, unfortunately, who are dying of cancer so it’s very essential that you test the cannabis.”

There are still some big questions left unanswered about the medical marijuana business, locally and nationally, that could trip up this new dispensary and the ones who are waiting in the city's permit pipeline.

Melody Negrete, assistant deputy director of code enforcement for the city of San Diego, said the city is still investigating dispensaries that are operating illegally.

“We currently have 48 open cases; 39 of those cases are in the City Attorney’s Office,” Negrete said. “We do receive complaints from all communities, and once we receive a complaint that’s when we start our investigation.”

Negrete said many of the complaints involving dispensaries are focused on their location, especially if they are close to schools.

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