Re: “San Diego City Council passed new regulations for medical marijuana dispensaries on Feb. 25” — the real concern and issue is whether the pot shops will obey the new regulations. If you look at their current track record, the answer is no. Currently there are 40-plus pot shops that operate illegally in the City of San Diego without any business permits. Even after a year of community members sending city officials a list of the 40-plus pot shops with their addresses, only a few have been forced to close. Clearly, the city is doing a poor job of tracking their locations and shuttering their illegal operations.
The City Attorney and Neighborhood Code Compliance have been unable to shut down these shops and, when they do, they just change their name and open back up a few weeks later. If the City has been unable to shutter the 40-plus pot shops operating now illegally, what makes us think they will be able to ensure that these new regulations will be adhered to? This ineffective enforcement needs to be improved if these newly approved regulations are to be obeyed.
Pot shops haven’t been inspected for building, health, and safety codes presenting a real concern and danger to the surrounding neighborhood. In Pacific Beach, pot shops remain open until 2 a.m. to serve the party crowd, hardly acting as a good neighbor. The pot shop regulations, in theory, try to bring some order to an out-of-control situation. But pot shops don’t care about the law, or the easy diversion of their drug to our young people. It’s about profiteering plain and simple, which is strictly prohibited, but nearly impossible to enforce.
The ordinance does nothing to ensure pot shops truly operate as non-profits, it does nothing to limit the amount of pot bought by any 18-year-old, nor does it limit the frequency or locations for young people to buy pot. You can literally go shop to shop buying pot. If you consider pot “medicine,” which none of our medical associations have said it is, this is not how we administer medicine in our community or nation. The city council tried to bring a lawless industry under control, but there just isn’t enough “teeth” in the ordinance, nor any renewed commitment from law enforcement to be more effective in shuttering nuisance shops. There is a reason the other 17 cities in our county don’t allow pot shops. Pot shops have proven they can’t be regulated, unless you’ve got an army of code compliance officers and city attorneys solely dedicated to pot shop enforcement, which none of our cities can afford to have.