The Road To San Diego’s First Legal Medical Marijuana Cooperative
Thursday, January 29, 2015
The San Diego Planning Commission upheld a land use permit for the city's first legal medical marijuana cooperative. But there's still one more step before it opens.
Purple Blackberry Kush. Grand Daddy Purple. Mr. Nice Guy.
These are the kinds of medical marijuana available for purchase from dispensaries in San Diego. Although you may see some locations selling strains like these in your neighborhood, there are no legally operating cooperatives in the city of San Diego. The first land use permit was upheld Thursday morning, but there is still one last step in the process: a public safety permit.
Take a walk through the detailed process from beginning to end to see how the city is evaluating each request to open a medical marijuana cooperative within city limits. At least 38 other applicants are seeking a permit. Only four cooperatives in each of San Diego's nine council districts will be approved.
Special Feature Explainer: What is a cooperative?
A short video explains the definition of a cooperative.
Special Feature Explainer: What is a "minor-oriented facility"?
Cooperatives in San Diego must be 1,000 feet from a "minor-oriented facility." This video briefly explains what that means.
Once an applicant locates a site to open a medical marijuana cooperative, it must obtain a conditional use permit, also known as a C.U.P. This type of land-use permit is required for dozens of other projects, including day care centers, liquor stores and museums, but cooperatives must adhere to a few extra rules.
Review, Review, Review
After pulling dozens of standard documents together, the applicant submits the packet to the city's Development Services Department for initial review. A staff member checks to make sure all the needed documents are there and moves it to a second review. That's when another staff member confirms all the documents are filled out properly, which can take up to 30 days.
After these two initial checks, the application moves on to the real scrutiny.
To make sure the proposed project is in line with all of the city's rules, the application goes through four reviews: planning, engineering, transportation and environmental.
It's during this step where problems can arise. The applicant may interpret the rules one way, while the city understands them another way. This creates a back and forth with the city, and applicants often have to re-submit their application multiple times.
The project receives a recommendation from Development Services — approve or deny — and then goes on to a hearing officer.
The city hired one officer to focus only on conditional use permits for medical marijuana cooperatives. The officer holds a public meeting to review the city's suggestion and take public input before issuing a ruling.
Members of the public have 10 days to appeal the ruling. If that's the case, the matter then goes before the San Diego Planning Commission. The commission's decision cannot be appealed.
One Last Step
After receiving a C.U.P., cooperatives must receive a public safety permit. This requires all employees of the cooperative be fingerprinted and background checked. Once both permits are recorded, the applicant can move forward with opening his or her facility.
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