Spurred by loosened city regulations and the state’s legalization of recreational marijuana, several new marijuana dispensaries are either opening or being proposed in San Diego.
The new wave of dispensaries follows a year-long lull when no new shops were approved or began operating in San Diego, the only city in the region that has allowed legal marijuana storefronts to open.
Two new dispensaries opened this spring, one in Kearny Mesa and one in Linda Vista, bringing the total operating in the city to 10.[related_articles location=”left” show_article_date=”false” article_type=”automatic-primary-section” curated_ids=””]Meanwhile, the number of approved dispensaries appears likely to increase beyond the current 15 with four more — three in Mission Valley and one in Sorrento Valley — headed for city hearings this summer.
In addition, six other applicants have entered the city’s long and complicated approval pipeline.
Some of the newly proposed dispensaries were spurred by the city loosening its regulations last year to allow such businesses within 1,000 feet of schools, parks and other sensitive uses if there is a freeway, wall or some topographical feature in between.
Another impetus was the city agreeing this winter to allow dispensaries approved to sell medical marijuana to also begin selling recreational marijuana when the state finalizes regulations for such businesses at the end of this year.
Industry leaders and city officials say they hope having more legal dispensaries will decrease demand for the many illegal pot shops and delivery services that continue to operate with essentially no security regulations or product safety standards.
“We hope that reaching a critical mass of licensed dispensaries will further encourage San Diego medicinal cannabis users to exclusively patronize establishments that abide by the rules, and that ultimately we see the market for unregulated, unlicensed shops dwindle further,” said Phil Rath, executive director of the United Medical Marijuana Coalition.
Critics of San Diego’s strict rules, particularly its zoning regulations, say the city doesn’t have enough dispensaries to serve an estimated 100,000 medical marijuana patients across the county.
The only other jurisdiction allowing legal marijuana storefronts is the county, which has approved five and allowed three of them to open.
And demand for legal marijuana is expected to sharply increase when the state next year begins allowing the sale of recreational marijuana without a doctor’s approval, which voters easily approved in last November’s general election.
The new dispensaries that have opened are the United Patients Consumer Cooperative at 8863 Balboa Ave. in Kearny Mesa, which opened in March, and Urbn Leaf at 1028 Buenos Ave. near the border of Linda Vista and Bay Park, which opened in May.
They join eight others that have been operating since at least early 2016 at 3703 Camino del Rio South in Mission Valley, 2335 Roll Drive in Otay Mesa, 3452 Hancock St. in the Midway District, 658 E. San Ysidro Blvd., 2405 Harbor Drive in Barrio Logan, 7128 Miramar Road in Mira Mesa, 5125 Convoy St. in Kearny Mesa and 10671 Roselle St. in Torrey Pines/Sorrento Valley.
Five others have been approved but haven’t yet opened.
Their locations are: 8888 Clairemont Mesa Blvd., 3455 Camino Del Rio South in Mission Valley, 4645 DeSoto St. in eastern Pacific Beach, 500 Estudillo Street in the Midway District and 3385 Sunrise Avenue, just southeast of downtown in Stockton.
Of the four newly proposed dispensaries headed for city hearings this summer, two are scheduled for final decisions by the Planning Commission in July.
One at 3456 Camino Del Rio North was approved by staff and the city’s hearing officer, and another at 2425 Camino Del Rio South was approved by staff but rejected by the city’s hearing officer.
The hearing officer rejected that dispensary after saying that staff didn’t adequately establish that there was a significant physical barrier between the proposed business and sensitive uses located west of Texas Street, said Firouzeh Tirandazi, an official in the city’s Development Services Department who oversees dispensary applications.
But the Planning Commission could still approve the dispensary next month.
A proposed dispensary at 1233 Camino Del Rio South is scheduled for approval by the city’s hearing officer on June 28; staff has recommended approval.
A proposed dispensary at 10715 Sorrento Valley Road is scheduled for City Council environmental approval in September, with a hearing officer date likely soon after that.
The addresses of other proposed dispensaries in the city’s approval pipeline are 2835 Camino Del Rio South, 6176 Federal Boulevard, 7850 Mission Center Court, 10110 Sorrento Valley Road, 5959 Mission Gorge Road and 1235 Hotel Circle South.
Some of the proposed dispensaries could be disqualified because they are within 1,000 feet of another proposed dispensary, which is illegal under city regulations.
Others will likely be disqualified under a city rule limiting the number of dispensaries in each of the nine council districts to four, because seven of the newly proposed dispensaries are in Council District 7.
© 2017 San Diego Union Tribune (San Diego, Calif.) Visit The Union Tribune at www.sandiegouniontribune.com Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
To subscribe to The Cannifornian’s email newsletter, click here.