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San Diego's First Legal Marijuana Shop May Lose Permit In Appeal

The city of San Diego's Planning Commission is scheduled Thursday to hear an appeal of an order granting permission to a San Diego State University business professor to open a medical marijuana dispensary.

In October, a city hearing officer granted a conditional use permit to David Blair to open A Green Alternative in a 1,400-square-foot space in a strip mall near Brown Field in Otay Mesa. Blair was the first in the city to receive the permit. Two other shops received approval in December.

The ruling was appealed by Barbara Gordon, a North County drug prevention specialist.


Blair applied for the permit under rules established by the City Council earlier this year. The regulations require prospective dispensary owners to go through a lengthy permit application process. They also specify zoning and distances to keep the operations away from residences, schools, churches and the like.

In the case of A Green Alternative, the neighborhood is zoned "heavy commercial," and includes a fast-food restaurant, a filling station and a warehouse.

Gordon contends that "heavy commercial" doesn't adequately describe the area because the businesses are patronized by families with children, according to documents on the Planning Commission's website.

She said a medical marijuana dispensary nearby would be detrimental to their health and safety. She also said the city didn't provide proper notice of October's hearing to shop owners in the strip mall.

City staff rejected her points and recommends denying her appeal. According to a staff report, the dispensary satisfies the city regulations.


If A Green Alternative is allowed to open, it would be San Diego County's second legal medical marijuana dispensary. One opened on county land near El Cajon in July.

The Planning Commission has the final say on the issue, which cannot be appealed to the City Council.