September 25, 2013

San Diego’s Medical Marijuana Industry Faces Uncertainty Amid Mayoral Shakeup

SanDiegoskyline

At the start of 2013, the future seemed exceedingly bright for medical marijuana businesses in San Diego.

The city’s new mayor, Bob Filner, went to bat big-time for the industry, pushing for regulations that would allow dispensaries to operate in San Diego, speaking at a medical marijuana event and taking the extraordinary step of instructing local police to stop prosecuting centers.

As a result, a handful dispensaries that had closed in recent years reopened their doors, and new ones set up shop. Scores of entrepreneurs started putting together business plans, anticipating new regulations that would make dispensaries legal on a local level.

It appeared San Diego would become one of the hottest medical marijuana markets in the country, with some observers saying as many as 100 dispensaries might open, leading to an estimated $50 million in annual sales.

Now, however, the future of San Diego’s medical marijuana industry is cloudy and entrepreneurs are in a holding pattern.

Filner’s political career has collapsed amid allegations of sexual misconduct and other charges, forcing him to resign last month.

The scandal, which dragged on for months, diverted Filner’s attention and put his plans to aggressively pursue MMJ regulations on hold.

His decision to step down has introduced a new level of uncertainty going forward, as the industry has lost its biggest – and most powerful – supporter.

The impact of his resignation was immediate. Earlier this month, the interim mayor – Todd Gloria – instructed police to once again enforce local zoning code violations by medical marijuana dispensaries. That means the dozen or so dispensaries that have opened this year could face legal action and likely will have to close, and new ones most certainly will not open any time soon.

Gloria reportedly is working on a new measure to approve and regulate dispensaries in the city, but the proposal won’t get in front of the city council until early next year.

And it remains to be seen who will get the mayoral job going forward – the city will hold a special election Nov. 19 to choose a new mayor. There’s no guarantee the next top city official will be friendly to medical marijuana, and dispensary regulations might not actually materialize.

“Inspections (of dispensaries) have commenced again and are being forwarded to the city attorney for prosecution. Not the constructive dialog we seek,” said James Slatic, chief executive officer of MedWest, which provides extracted cannabis oils, pills and other products.

Still, there are some promising signs for the future. Slatic said he and other MMJ entrepreneurs remain hopeful, adding that the industry is “becoming a political force that politicians are starting to respect.”

And the industry has found a new supporter in city councilman David Alvarez, who has approached cannabis advocates for an endorsement and for donations.

For now, entrepreneurs will have to sit tight and see how it all shakes out, as there is too much uncertainty to predict whether the industry will be able to make a comeback in San Diego.

Post Your Comment:


Please note:
Comments are moderated by our editors who do their best to approve comments ASAP. As Marijuana Business Daily is focused on business, we approve comments that are specifically relevant to industry professionals. General opinions and questions about cannabis may not be posted.

Ohio Firm Lands Big Bank Loan After Battling Cannabis Stigma

Even companies that don’t touch cannabis – but have clients that do – can have [click to continue...]

New Hampshire Dispensary Hopeful Pitches Plan

NewHampshire

New Hampshire’s first medical marijuana dispensary could open within a year in the tiny hamlet [click to continue...]

Seattle MMJ Regulations, Standards Proposed

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray outlined a plan Monday afternoon to license medical marijuana businesses and [click to continue...]

Report: CO Targeting Cannabis Businesses Violating MJ Rules

The Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division has been cracking down on cannabis businesses violating state regulations, [click to continue...]

IRS Council: Protect Tax Pros Working With MJ Industry

IRS

A key advisory group to the Internal Revenue Service has recommended that the agency refrain [click to continue...]

More Chicago MMJ Businesses Get Local Approval

The Windy City is well on its way toward exhaling legal cannabis smoke. On Friday, [click to continue...]

Cannabis Retailers Hope to Cash in on Black Friday

Recreational marijuana businesses in Colorado will have sales just like any other retailer on Black [click to continue...]

San Diego Dispensary Applicants Trip Each Other Up

SanDiegoskyline

Entrepreneurs hoping to open dispensaries in San Diego are competing aggressively with each other before [click to continue...]

Multi-State MMJ Operators Embroiled in Lawsuits, Legal Disputes

Entrepreneurs seeking cannabis licenses in multiple states have a new concern: legal issues from one [click to continue...]

CO Credit Union for MJ Businesses Could Open by New Year’s Day

Colorado marijuana businesses in need of a bank account, take heart. Banking services may soon [click to continue...]

Bill Would Allow VA Docs to Recommend MMJ

VA Logo

A bill introduced in Congress by representatives from California and Oregon with 10 bipartisan cosponsors [click to continue...]

1,000-Foot Buffer Rule Could Lead to Federal Action in MA

Legal marijuana dispensaries face potential prosecution if a U.S. attorney enforces federal guidelines banning marijuana [click to continue...]

Two More San Diego MMJ Dispensaries Ordered to Close

SanDiegoskyline

The crusade against illegal medical marijuana dispensaries in southern California has been going on for [click to continue...]

Congressional GOP Not Likely to Block DC Marijuana Legalization

In what must come as a relief for cannabis enthusiasts in the nation’s capital, The [click to continue...]