CHULA VISTA, Calif. – Chula Vista public officials are cracking down on illegal pot shops in the city, shutting down some 30 dispensaries for operating without licenses.
The last shutdown came Aug. 28 at a shop at 71 Broadway, officials said Friday. Police say the that location and others have sparked numerous complaints from the community.
“These illegal shops caused tremendous problems in our community because they were open all hours, had no controls to prevent loitering, crime or other negative effects in their surrounding communities,” Chula Vista Mayor Mary Salas said.
According to officials, many illegal marijuana dispensaries were operating near elementary schools such as Vista Square Elementary School and Rosebank Elementary School.
The crackdown led to the seizure of roughly $34 million in marijuana products and $6 million in cash and 10 felony arrests were made.
“These illegal dispensary, we learned, they are organized crime,” San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan said. “The money is in the millions. And because of that, there is a lot of dangers to police officers as they try to shut down these facilities. It operates based on greed.”
Salas said the city is opening up a process for dispensaries to operate legally. Officials have finished the first phase of cannabis licensing process, and Salas expects the first legal dispensary to open sometime in the next few months.
Under the planned process, every city council district district will be able to have a maximum of two legal storefront businesses and a marijuana delivery business.
But illegal shops are not welcome, Salas said.
“Because these illegal shops are so profitable, I suspect they have not gone away forever so we must be vigilant and continue to prosecute any illegal pot shop in our business in Chula Vista,” she said.