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Door shut on dispensaries

Posted: August 19th, 2016 | Communities, Features, Grantville, Top Stories | No Comments

By Doug Curlee | Editor at Large

November election not likely to change that, either

Two permit denials from the San Diego Planning Commission have virtually killed any chance of there being a medical marijuana dispensary established in Grantville.

The latest denial of the Living Green application last Thursday morning ended the process, since the only other applicant, Grantville Green, had been denied two weeks earlier.

Under the law as it reads now, the Planning Commission is the last stop — there is no right of appeal to the City Council.

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The Grantville Green medical marijuana dispensary’s application was rejected by the Planning Commission for being too close to parkland. (Courtesy San Diego City Planning Commission)

“We don’t know what we’re going to do next. I’m not sure what we can do next,” said Gina Austin, Living Green’s attorney, after the Planning Commission voted 5-1 to deny the application.

Two weeks earlier, Grantville Green had been denied for the same reason Living Green was — being too close to dedicated parklands along the San Diego River Park area. A dispensary, by city law, cannot be within a thousand feet of parkland.

Nick Hosig, one of the applicants for Grantville Green, was in the audience for Living Green’s hearing.

“We’re pretty much out of it, I’m afraid,” Hosig said. “We’ve all but run out of money trying to fight this, and getting nowhere.”

At one time, there were several operations vying for the right to sell pot in Grantville. One by one, they were either quickly denied, or dropped out of the long, involved process before ever coming to a hearing.

Unless there is a change in the laws regarding where pot can be sold, there will be no more applicants from Grantville for a very simple reason: The City Council last year approved rezoning of almost all of Grantville, wiping out the industrial zoning. Industrial is the only zoning where dispensaries can be opened and operated in San Diego. There is simply nowhere else in Grantville where a dispensary could be opened.

The Planning Commission members who have to make these decisions are not all that happy about the law. Some of them, particularly Theresa Quiroz, have spoken out about the burden it puts on the applicants.

“We string these people out for long periods,” she said. “There ought to be a better way.”

If there is a glimmer of light for applicants, it’s a very dim glimmer indeed.

Austin said there might be something of a different attitude among politicians if California voters approve recreational use of marijuana come the first Tuesday in November.

“If that happens, and there’s Democrat majority on the City Council, some people may be more willing to at least consider revising that ordinance.” But she admits that’s a slim hope for now.

And if that happens, how long will it be before the federal Drug Enforcement Administration decides to start raiding California marijuana stores, legal or not? The DEA just ruled it will not remove marijuana from its list of the most dangerous drugs.

As it stands right now, there are 10 legal dispensaries in San Diego, with an 11th, located in Mission Valley, to be approved Aug. 25.

It’s not impossible that it may all stop right there, leaving three City Council districts without any shops at all — districts 7, 9 and 4.

We’ve said it before, and it bears repeating: The law allows for 36 pots shops in San Diego — four in each Council district. Nowhere is it written that there have to actually be 36.

—Doug Curlee is Editor at Large. Reach him at doug@sdcnn.com.

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