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San Diego Approves Medical Marijuana Dispensary License Fees

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san diego marijuana seminar asa melissa bobrowThe medical marijuana industry in California has long operated in a Wild West fashion. There are not solid state rules and regulations in place, and cities and counties either have their own rules, or no rules at all. Throw in a lot of conflicting case law and federal raids, and you can see why there has been a lot of chaos in the industry in California. San Diego has been particularly contentious during the last five years. Fortunately, there is now a licensing system in place, at least at the city level. Per KPBS:

The San Diego City Council voted 8-1 Tuesday in favor of a package of amendments to medical marijuana regulations that, among other things, establishes a minimum fee of nearly $1,100 for annual operating permits.

The amendments pertain to an ordinance that sets the terms under which dispensaries will conduct their business. The operating regulations differ from land-use restrictions, which determine the allowable locations for pot shops.

“I anticipate there will be more discussion and more changes down the road as San Diego experiences these operations actually open legally,” Councilwoman Marti Emerald said.

Among other things, the City Council wants the annual permit fee to equal the cost of inspections and other expenses needed to regulate the dispensaries. The city’s projected costs include the use of police officers to make background checks, fire personnel, zoning investigators, planners and City Treasury employees.

It will be interesting to see how dispensaries in San Diego react to the new rules and fee. A lot of them have operated for a long time with while paying no fees and didn’t have to follow any guidelines or rules for the most part. Hopefully this becomes an opportunity for the City of San Diego and the medical marijuana industry to get on the same page. Although, I’m worried about the Councilwoman’s statement above that there will be ‘more changes down the road.’ That doesn’t always mean good changes for the industry side.

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