A new report from the City of San Diego’s Code Enforcement Division shows that officers are closing down medical marijuana dispensaries by the bushel.
From 2013 to 2014, the enforcement unit and city attorney's office have closed 76 unpermitted pot shops. According to the report, the city has identified 44 dispensaries currently operating without permits. Approximately 24 are located in council districts 2 and 3, which include North Park, downtown, Ocean Beach, Pacific Beach, and Point Loma.
That's an increase from December 2013, when there were 4 shops estimated to be in operation. In the preceding years, code enforcement, in conjunction with the city attorney's office, took credit for closing 293 illegally operating dispensaries.
The report explains the tactics used by the city since stepping up enforcement in 2013.
The first step is someone requests an investigation into a possible unpermitted dispensary. The requests can be initiated by a resident complaint, a field investigator who spots a dispensary, a tip from the police department, or by code-enforcement officers scouring periodicals for advertisements. Within three days, the case is handed over to a single investigator who then prioritizes the violation, looking for permits, whether they are located near schools, churches, or residential areas, and if there are any safety hazards. Violations are then handed out and, if needed, legal action is taken.
The focus on busting storefronts is, however, taking a toll on city staff.
"Because of the high volume of marijuana dispensary case investigations that have opened over the past two years, [the Code Enforcement Division] has assigned two zoning investigators to dispensary enforcement and fifty percent of a combination inspector. These positions are not currently budgeted for dispensary enforcement and therefore create impacts to general citywide code enforcement staffing assignments."