City leaders at odds over medical marijuana dispensaries

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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According to Goldsmith, no collectives have operated legally since the City Council rescinded regulations two years ago that medical marijuana advocates believed were too restrictive.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.


  • alfredo

    get i card should be better controlled, my son just turned 18 and never smog marihuana before and he does not have any medical problem and now he has a card, so it does not make any good that i care keeping him out of drugs his whole life at school and streets and now the administrators of the justice allow him to get it that easy, i am so disappointed about it. now i can control him. I ask my self, is this a way the big drug dealers can do business? or they can wash dirty money?

    • guest

      I'm pretty sure your son was smoking MJ before 18. Now let me ask you this Alfredo, would you rather him buy it off a dealer in the streets? Or a controlled & regulated environment?

      Our politicians pockets are lined with "dirty money" from big pharma.

  • mmj advocate

    you are part of the problem. your son obtained a medical marijuana card because it is the only alternative. now these ***holes are targeting people who actually use marijuana to help them medically. clinics that are running legally are getting shut down because some whiny parents are complaining about their children smoking pot. handle your kids yourself.

  • Jimbo

    The latest dispensary to be raided by the Feds is One-on-One, which was operating to the letter of the law that California passed to allow medical marijuana to be provided for patients who needed it. The owner of that dispensary has a fatal form of bone cancer and believes passionately in providing this alternative to other more damaging drugs like morphine and oxycontin. This is an issue of compassion. How can we deny a beneficial medicine to people who need it?

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