SAN DIEGO — A disagreement between Mayor Bob Filner and City Attorney Jan Goldsmith over the enforcement of marijuana dispensaries in San Diego widened Thursday.
Goldsmith held a news conference to accuse Filner of failing to take action as collectives “proliferate” around the city. City officials estimate more than 20 dispensaries have sprouted up since Goldsmith, the mayor and City Council signed a deal on enforcement in January.
“Nevertheless, the mayor has refused to allow case referrals to our office since that time, even though there have been illegal dispensaries opening,” Goldsmith said. “We believe illegal dispensaries are once again beginning to proliferate and impact San Diego neighborhoods due to the word getting out that the mayor refuses to enforce the law.”
The mayor denied the accusation at a later news conference on another issue.
“I’ve always enforced the law, that’s my job,” Filner said. “I haven’t stopped or started or done anything.”
He said the city attorney should talk to him, not the media.
On Tuesday, Filner said he believed a downtown dispensary raided by federal authorities was operating legally. His legal adviser, Lee Burdick, told the Del Mar Times the shop was grandfathered in under older rules.
Filner said Thursday that he and Goldsmith discussed the establishment’s status “for weeks and weeks” to determine its legal status.
According to Goldsmith, no collectives have operated legally since the City Council rescinded regulations two years ago that medical marijuana advocates believed were too restrictive. Since then, more than 100 dispensaries have been shut down in civil code enforcement actions since the city doesn’t allow them under its current zoning ordinances.
None of the municipal enforcement actions have come in the last few months, however.
The City Council has asked the mayor to take enforcement actions against dispensaries, and in closed session earlier this week, rejected settlement offers by two dispensary operators who are being prosecuted in older cases.
Goldsmith said a replacement ordinance to allow some dispensaries will take about a month to draft and send out for public scrutiny.