Association Calls for Crackdown on Unregulated Medical Marijuana Dispensaries | NBC 7 San Diego

Association Calls for Crackdown on Unregulated Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

The Association of Cannabis Professionals says medical marijuana dispensaries with proper permits can't compete with unregulated dispensaries in San Diego

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    Medical marijuana dispensaries following city regulations to obtain permits in San Diego are finding it difficult to compete economically with over 30 unregulated dispensaries, one group says.

    The Association of Cannabis Professionals, which represents licensed medical marijuana dispensaries, is calling on San Diego to enforce its laws and shut down the medical marijuana stores functioning without a proper license.

    "The City of San Diego spent nearly four years developing regulations, and our members spent nearly two years, and hundreds of thousands of dollars, to meet the conditions needed to obtain their permits from the City of San Diego,” says Association President Chris Siegel. “But despite having jumped through all of these hoops and costs, in order to do things right, the City continues to allow unpermitted dispensaries to operate with impunity."

    The association argues that medical marijuana dispensaries that operate with a city permit are facing several economic disadvantages compared to the unregulated stores.

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    Per city regulations, many financial requirements must be met by dispensaries, including obtaining a security system, hiring guards and paying state taxes and city fees. They also have to follow rules about how long their dispensaries can stay open every day.

    The association says many unregulated dispensaries ignore these requirements.

    Currently, seven medical marijuana dispensaries are operating with a permit in the City of San Diego. They include: Torrey Holistic in Sorrento Valley; Mankind Cooperative in Mira Mesa; San Diego Health and Wellness in Kearny Mesa; Point Loma Patients Association in Midway; A Green Alternative in Otay Mesa; Southwest Patient Group in San Ysidro; Harbor Collective in Barrio Logan.

    However, the association says there are more than 30 marijuana dispensaries in San Diego that operate without a permit and openly advertise their business.

    "We can't compete," lamented a board member of a San Diego City permitted storefront dispensary. "We have to absorb tens of thousands of dollars in permitting costs, absorb sales tax, absorb thousands of dollars of city mandated operating expenses, and a guy opens down the street, without a permit, and avoids all of these costs. What is the incentive to follow the city process if there is no advantage associated with it?"

    In 2013, the City successfully shut down a number of storefront dispensaries, when there was not yet a fully-fledged process for obtaining a city permit. The Association of Cannabis Professionals is asking the City to enforce medical marijuana storefront regulations once more by shutting down those businesses that lack permits.