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Politics

First Legal San Diego Medical Pot Co-Op Wants To Set A High Bar

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San Diego's First Legal Marijuana Co-Op to Open Soon
First Legal San Diego Medical Pot Co-Op Wants To Set A High Bar
San Diego medical marijuana patients could buy their pot from the city’s first legal store by next week. The cooperative’s owners are taking great care to exceed the minimum requirements.

You can see the sign for A Green Alternative just after turning off Roll Drive and into an Otay Mesa shopping plaza. Standing out front on Tuesday, owner David Blair explains how he is adhering to strict city rules that are specific to cooperatives.

"Signs can only be one color and cannot contain a logo," Blair said, gesturing to the space that sits near a Subway shop and a Carl's Jr. fast-food restaurant.

Blair estimated A Green Alternative will be ready for business in seven to 10 days. He received final approval for his zoning permit in late January, and his employees recently passed a background check, one of the final requirements before opening.

Explore An Interactive Video About Opening A Co-Op In San Diego

The Road To San Diego’s First Legal Medical Marijuana Cooperative

But for some of the regulations, Blair said meeting the minimum requirements wasn’t good enough for him.

“Everything that the city asked us to do, we’re trying to double it," he said.

The city requires an armed guard be on duty during store hours, but Blair’s extending that to even when the shop is closed.

“We want to protect our neighbors, we want to protect our patients, we want to protect our employees and, of course, ourselves," the San Diego State University business ethics lecturer said.

That includes bulletproof walls, windows and doors. When patients enter the store, they'll walk into a vestibule and must pass their doctor's recommendation to a receptionist sitting behind protective glass. Once patients have their medical status confirmed, they'll be buzzed into a lounge where they'll wait until an employee is available to assist them one-on-one in the room where the product is kept.

A short video explains the definition of a cooperative.

Blaid said A Green Alternative will also use an outside lab to test its products for things such as mildew and mold. San Diego's rules say city officials can test products at any time but doesn't require cooperatives to do so on their own.

“So we’re taking all kinds of measures to make sure that our patients have not only safe but immaculate access to their medication,” he said.

Blair said he wants to not only be the first legal medical marijuana cooperative in San Diego but the best.

“We really want to set the bar very high because we want to remove the stigma associated with cannabis," he said.

Blair expects to serve 7,500 to 10,000 patients in his first month.

Meanwhile, the City Council moved forward the permit applications for six cooperatives Tuesday. Council members rejected the half dozen environmental appeals against those seeking to open their own dispensaries.