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While the city attorney's office remains busy filing lawsuits against owners of dispensaries and the people who lease them their space, the city's Development Services department is stuck processing dozens of applications for new dispensaries to open.

To date, since May 21, the city has announced that it will be holding public hearings for 29 medical marijuana dispensaries. The hearings will provide community members and, later, city council members the opportunity to weigh in on each dispensary. According to the city's website for public notices, the majority of applications have been submitted in the Midway/Pacific Coast Highway community; however, there are some for Mission Valley, Pacific Beach, Kearny Mesa, Southeastern San Diego, and Navajo communities.

But by design, many applicants will get shot down. The council's recently passed medical marijuana proposal, pending final approval from the California Coastal Commission, allows a total of 36 dispensaries citywide. That equates to four per council district.

And as city staffers stay busy notifying the public of what would be legal dispensaries, the city attorney's office continues their assault on illegal ones.

On June 6, yet another lawsuit was filed, this time against the Downtown Patients Group operating at Eighth Avenue near Market Street. In the past six months, the city has filed lawsuits against 15 dispensaries, in addition to individuals who lease the space to them. The trend will likely continue, as investigators for the city have taken to the internet to find and identify what are considered illegal dispensaries.

But as the cases continue to pile up, the city attorney's office will have to dedicate time to defending its pot ordinance. As first reported here, a Los Angeles-based patient rights advocacy group, Union for Medical Marijuana Patients, filed a suit on May 1 challenging the decision by the city attorney to forego undergoing any environmental review before drafting the ordinance. By doing so, claims the lawsuit, the city failed to take into account that by limiting the number of dispensaries, patients will be forced to travel further for their meds. That means more greenhouse gases and more pollution. The lawsuit is making its way through court.

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