The city is launching a campaign to crack down on illegal marijuana dispensaries and ask residents to only buy medical marijuana at shops operating under city-approved legal licenses.
On Thursday morning, the "Buy Safe, Buy Legal" campaign was launched through the partnership of the United Medical Marijuana Coalition (UMMC) and City Attorney Jan Goldsmith.
The goal of the campaign is to help medical marijuana patients understand which dispensaries are legal and which are breaking the law by operating illegally without any supervision from the city.
Legal dispensaries must follow strict health and zoning regulations, which includes paying taxes, regulating products and following city laws.
Just last week, an illegal dispensary operating on University Avenue within 300 feet of an elementary school was raided by police.
City officials say to beware of illegal dispensaries that operate outside the law with no respect for the community. Often these shops pose dangers to anyone who walks through the doors.
About 300 illegal dispensaries have been shut down by the city attorney. Some have refused to close, forcing the city to obtain search warrants on 12. Nine illegal shop owners have been charged and may receive jail time.
Inside these illegal shops, police have discovered illegal weapons, drugs and employees with criminal records. To make matters worse, the City Attorney says it's impossible to know what you're truly buying.
In order to avoid these risky shops, the city asks residents to familiarize themselves with the 14 legal dispensaries and make sure to look for a UMMC logo.
Fourteen medical marijuana dispensaries are currently operating legally in the city, with six remaining under construction. The city urges the community to only support these businesses, and stay away from illegal pot shops.
UMMC is an industry organization representing the 14 San Diego dispensaries that have followed all City laws designed to provide medical marijuana patients with safe access and protect the character of the neighborhoods where dispensaries operate.