A complicated new law in San Diego will legalize medical marijuana dispensaries to be established in a small group of approved areas.This new method of licensing pot stores goes into effect tomorrow morning, Thursday, April 24, 2014.
Lines are expected to stretch around the corner as potential marijuana sellers wait to present their applications at City Hall. The rigorous requirements for dispensing legal marijuana were approved by the City Council last February. One reason for hopeful applicants to wait on line is that at most only 36 stores will be allowed, a maximum of four per each of San Diego’s nine Council districts.
No one will be getting any permits yet. This is only the beginning of a process that will take several steps, lasting as long as six months, before any approvals are granted. The cost of this series of vetting and paperwork could end up being upwards of $100,000 for each dispensary, whether final approval is gained or not.
Adding to the difficulty are the strict rules controlling where the dispensaries can be operated. A small number of areas already zoned for industrial or commercial use have been designated as potential sites. Any pot store needs to be located more than one thousand feet from any church, library, park, school, playground, or any youth facility. A dispensary has to be at least 100 feet from a residence.
Tomorrow morning, all seekers of applications need to come up with $9,000 to begin with. If their forms are correctly filled out, and initially accepted, more costs will come soon after.
One of the other main problems for potential dispensaries is located someone willing to rent property for the purpose of selling pot, property that is located in an acceptable place. The landlord my not want the additional jeopardy of entanglements with the federal government.
Currently national law enforcement has maintained a hands-off policy in Colorado and Washington, where marijuana has been legalized by the state governments, and in California, where it is a medical situation. That stance could change with changes in D.C.
Another obstacle to finding a landlord is the threat of robberies at the dispensaries. Marijuana sale is still almost completely a cash business, and business can be very good, and therefore, very tempting to criminals.
For anyone interested in a detailed examination of many of the aspects of this changing business, a valuable source is the “White Paper on Marijuana Dispensaries” on Sandiego.gov.