San Diego

Unincorporated East County Residents ‘Fed Up' With Illegal Pot Dispensaries

One official said some dispensaries have been operating illegally for at least a year

 Residents in San Diego County's Casa del Oro area have formed a group to address the problem of illegal marijuana dispensaries operating in their area, saying more needs to be done to crack down on the problem.

Residents of the unincorporated East County area formed the the Casa del Oro Community Alliance six months ago to fight the issue. Members say the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department (SDSO) and County Supervisor Dianne Jacob’s Office is working with them, but there are still lingering concerns.

“One, they’re operating illegally," said Rolland Slade, a Spring Valley resident and local pastor. "Number two, they’re right in the area where kids are traveling back and forth from school, and they see it. They’re not naïve to it."

Bob Yarris, the organization’s chairman, told NBC 7 San Diego the dispensaries have been operating for at least a year, mostly on Campo Road. He says he’s not against medical marijuana, but he doesn’t want them operating out of approved zones and doing so illegally.

The SDSO confirmed to NBC 7 that marijuana dispensaries in Casa del Oro are operating illegally because currently there are no approved locations.

Blanca Pelowitz, a manager with the Department’s License Division, said in an email: “There is currently a group involving PDS (Planning Development Service), the Sheriff’s Department, the District Attorney’s Office and County Counsel. They will be developing more effective strategies to address this specific problem.”

Supervisor Jacob expressed concern over the issue in a statement:

“I’ve met with Casa de Oro residents and share their concerns over these illegal pot shops, which have no place in that community or any other. My expectation is that the Sheriff’s Department and county code enforcement staff will continue to crack down on these shady operations whenever or wherever they pop up.”

The Casa del Oro Community Alliance has a meeting scheduled Thursday at Faith Chapel on Campo Road at 6 P.M. to discuss the issue. 

There is a Board of Supervisor’s hearing at 9 a.m. Wednesday, where supervisors will talk about issues related to medical marijuana and several options the Planning Development Service has put together addressing these concerns. A spokesman for Jacob’s office says that issue, however, is more focused on legal dispensaries.

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