Skip to main content

ALERT: KPBS 89.5FM is undergoing scheduled upgrade work which may result in a temporary signal outage. Click here to listen on our radio stream.

LATEST UPDATES: Tracking COVID-19 | Vaccines | Racial Justice

Judge Rejects Challenge Against San Diego’s Marijuana Ordinance

A legal challenge to San Diego's medical marijuana ordinance on environmental grounds was denied by a Superior Court judge, the City Attorney's Office announced Thursday.

Judge Joel Wohlfeil rejected an argument by the Los Angeles-based Union of Medical Marijuana Patients that, by allowing marijuana dispensaries to operate only in commercial and industrial zones, the city will force patients to drive long distances, adding to traffic congestion and air pollution.

In his ruling, issued Tuesday, the judge said there was no baseline distance for travel to medical marijuana dispensaries, and no evidence of an increase. He also said there were no restrictions on how a patient can travel to a dispensary site.

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

The city's zoning regulations went into effect last year, and prospective dispensary owners have applied for conditional use permits that will allow up to 36 collectives to operate in San Diego — as many as four in each of the nine City Council districts.

The first legal dispensary is due to open soon near the Brown Field airport in Otay Mesa.

"Whether to allow marijuana dispensaries in certain zones is a policy decision for the City Council and mayor," City Attorney Jan Goldsmith said. "We will defend their legal right to make that policy call." He said if the law had been overturned, there would have been no legal process for dispensaries to open and operate legally in San Diego.

The plaintiff, which contended that the ordinance violates the California Environmental Quality Act, could not be reached for comment.

FEATURED PODCAST

San Diego News Now podcast branding

San Diego news; when you want it, where you want it. Get local stories on politics, education, health, environment, the border and more. New episodes are ready weekday mornings. Hosted by Anica Colbert and produced by KPBS, San Diego and the Imperial County's NPR and PBS station.

  • Need help keeping up with the news that matters most? Get the day's top news — ranging from local to international — straight to your inbox each weekday morning.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Curious San Diego banner

Want more KPBS news?
Find us on Twitter and Facebook, or sign up for our newsletters.

To view PDF documents, Download Acrobat Reader.