City shuts down 5 illegal pot shops

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SAN DIEGO — The city of San Diego announced Tuesday that it was granted court orders to shutter five illegal marijuana dispensaries, bringing the total number of closures for the past six months to around 40.

The latest closure orders were against:
— High Grade Collective, at 4535 30th St. in North Park;
— Mercury Organics, 8222 Vickers St. in Kearny Mesa;
— City Heights Organic, 4292 University Ave. in City Heights; and
— Botanica Health and Prop 215, dispensaries operating from separate suites at 2815 Camino Del Rio South in Mission Valley.

According to the City Attorney’s Office, the last two were operating within 600 yards of the Academy of Our Lady of Peace, a Catholic girls school, but officials noted that because of a steep hillside, they weren’t easily accessible.

“As these cases demonstrate, our aggressive enforcement of city zoning regulations is necessary to protect neighborhood standards and safety,” City Attorney Jan Goldsmith said.

“Marijuana dispensaries, like any other business, must obtain proper permits and conform to zoning regulations,” Goldsmith said. “There is now a process for legally zoned dispensaries and that process should be followed.” Prospective operators of legal dispensaries have applied to the city for conditional use permits that would allow them to open under rules established by the San Diego City Council earlier this year, and a few have been granted.

The first, which would go into a strip mall near Brown Field in Otay Mesa, has been appealed by a North County drug prevention specialist. A hearing is scheduled before the Planning Commission Jan. 29.

The regulations specify zoning and distances to keep the operations away from residences, schools, churches and the like. They also limit the number of dispensaries for each council district.

Goldsmith said he believes other pot shops are operating illegally in the city, despite the new pathway to legal status. Cases are referred to the City Attorney’s either by police or code enforcement officers.

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