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Oceanside shuts down its medical marijuana dispensaries

OCEANSIDE — Four medical marijuana dispensaries were recently served notices to close their doors because they each lacked a business license. Business operators said city-zoning rules that do not list medical marijuana dispensaries as viable businesses make their businesses ineligible to exist.
The city was in ongoing negotiations with the North County Collective when, in what many consider bad faith, it served notices to the medical marijuana dispensaries to close immediately. Businesses and property owners can face fines of up to $25,000 a day if they do not comply.
One of the four dispensaries has already shut its doors. The other businesses have the choice to appeal or shut down.
Assistant city attorney Annie Perrigo said a business that is given notice to close could request a zoning text amendment and petition for a business license, but none of the marijuana dispensaries have done so. The city is concerned marijuana dispensaries are not playing by the rules.
“It’s a good idea to try to go through legal steps before opening a business,” Perrigo said.
Attorney Philip Ganong, who represents ABACA Medical Collective that formerly operated in Oceanside, said the business was stonewalled at every turn when it tried to obtain a license.
A two-year moratorium for the city to look into the matter of how to best regulate medical marijuana dispensaries recently expired. No practices were recommended.
“Since the moratorium expired the city refused to issue any business licenses within the city limits of Oceanside,” Ganong said.
The option to request a zoning text amendment in order to obtain a business license will cost ABACA $5,800.
“ABACA would like to do that, but they need to raise the money with the understanding Oceanside staff would not recommend it.”
A “no recommendation” from city staff means approval of a business license is unlikely.
There is further city concern that many medical marijuana dispensaries are more focused on selling marijuana than serving patients. Perrigo said the four businesses that were given notice to close are storefronts, not patient cooperatives.
“We’re not enforcing and trying to shut down cooperative or collective operations,” Perrigo said. “We’re not trying to stop mobile delivery services.”
To ease concerns, there are health and safety codes in place that set standards for how medical marijuana dispensaries should operate. These health codes can be adopted to help regulate marijuana dispensaries, but they have not been adopted by Oceanside.
“We are the only industry that says regulate us, tax us,” Lisa Carpenter, former operator of Coastal Patient Services in Vista, said. “We want to be nonprofits and contribute to the community.”
Marijuana has a long history that some think clouds present judgment. Recreation use of marijauna became illegal in the 1930s just as the prohibition on alcohol was repealed. “They (medical marijuana dispensaries) are closed because of systemic bigotry and prejudicial bias reflected in 80 years of brainwashing about cannabis in general,” Ganong said.
Medical marijuana became legal in California in 1996, but not everyone supports its use or local distribution.
“I do not want them (medical marijuana dispensaries) here in our town,” Mayor Jim Wood said. “Not everyone is in there for medical reasons. I am not very supportive after working in law enforcement all those years and seeing the negative effects of marijuana on individuals and families.”
Advocates of medical marijuana dispensaries want to provide services to North County residents.
“Patients should be able to make their own decisions,” Carpenter said. “They should have a right to access their choice of medicine.”
Many patients prefer medical marijuana to stronger synthetic drugs to relieve pain, reduce nausea and lessen anxiety.
“Cannabis is a natural herb that properties are not well understood,” Ganong said.
In order to obtain medical marijuana a patient needs a doctor’s recommendation. Doctors do not prescribe marijuana because the drug is illegal under federal law. This practice clouds the recommendation that marijuana is medically needed.
Currently there are few local sources where North County patients to get medical marijuana. The cities of San Marcos and Vista have also taken action to enforce zoning codes and close medical marijuana dispensaries.
“They closed us down yesterday,” a former medical marijuana operator in Vista said. “San Marcos, Oceanside, Vista all did the same thing the same day. It was pretty much coordinated. They hit every dispensary.”
“Cities are just saying no to storefront medical marijuana facilities,” Carpenter said. “There is a stigma attached they need to get past.”
There are still door-to-door delivery services patients can access. Operators say these services are becoming overwhelmed with demands because of closures of marijuana dispensaries in North County.
The next step for medical marijuana dispensary operators may be to challenge the zoning code or collectively petition to get an initiative on an upcoming ballot and let local voters decide.


svtyone July 26, 2011 at 12:55 pm

so mr.wood how many of these negative effects were soley the result of over powering goverment and prohibition locking up familys breadwinner for minor possesion.its funny cause for every police rep that says no guess what there is a member of leap who would fight you every step of the conversation. leap=law enforcement against prohibition. stop shutting them down and fighting them based on speculation.

anonymous July 26, 2011 at 2:31 pm

Like Jim Wood, as a concerned citizen of Oceanside I would rather potheads get their stuff from dangerous drug dealers, who murder, rob, and push harder drugs onto people, rather than simply go to the local dispensary.
Like Jim Wood, I can’t stand the idea of not being able to funnel funds through my police friends by arresting potheads, giving them a $100 ticket, and releasing them 2 minutes later.
Like Jim Wood, I would much rather not collect the 8.75% sales tax collected on pot sales. This extra money would be better spent by drug dealers on investing in getting more drugs.
Like Jim Wood, I’m a piece of dirt. How about you?

anonymous July 26, 2011 at 7:06 pm

Why would they shut down businesses in such bad economic times? I was surprised to learn the number of medical benefits. has a lot of information that maybe some of these city councils need to go read.

Eugene Davidovich July 27, 2011 at 12:33 pm

The City of Oceanside is on the wrong path. Safe access to a medicine that helps so many elderly and disabled folks in Oceanside is an important issue that many residents in the City support.
Instead of wasting tax payers’ resources on these frivolous law suits and eradication efforts, the city should work towards reasonable regulations that would help clarify this issue in Oceanside and protect patients once and for all.

Tax paying citizen July 27, 2011 at 6:38 pm

Jim Wood needs to wake up. I would be on disability were not for medical marijuana. Becouse of this I am a usefull member of society who pays taxes instead of being a burden to society. Locals may decide to move all together leaving you with a town full of military and illeagals. The same as it was 25 years ago

PotShopFraud August 2, 2011 at 8:55 am

It’s quite clear pot shop advocates’ interest is more about making a profit and less about sick and dying patients. Marijuana dispensaries make huge profits in what is suppose to be a closed circuit non-profit system. Why else would you see 15 dispensaries within walking distance to each other in Pacific Beach? Does Oceanside or any other north county city want to be the next Pacific Beach? No! The cities in North County are thankfully protecting us against the cancerous pot shops proliferation.
Even the pro-pot leaders agree that pot shops are just a front for illegal drug dealing. Reverend Scott T. Imler, co-author of Proposition 215 said this: “We created Prop. 215 so patients would not have to deal with the black market profiteers. But today it is all about the money. Most of the dispensaries operating in California are a little more than dope dealers with store fronts.” – Alternatives Magazine, Fall 2006, issue 39. Reverend Scott T. Imler also said, “When we wrote Proposition 215, we were selling it to the public as something for seriously ill people… It’s turned into a joke. I think a lot of people have medicalized their recreational use.”- San Gabriel Valley Tribune, February 15, 2007.

whocarewhatmynameis August 3, 2011 at 1:40 am

Wow, How is it clear that pot advocates are more concerned about making a profit? Most of these people are work for little or no pay all rpofit must be reallocated to cooperative. You are watching too many movies where the bad guy is pushing baggies on the corner, thing have change Skipper. Moreover, if regulated this industry can be a huge profit for a struggling city, Like Oside. They are completely out of money and yet seem to be spending the last few pennies ( over a Mil $$$) we have on STOPPING the "BAD guys" Sir or Madam Are you stupid, I wish Oceanside was 1/2 as classy as PB, please, have you seen the people walking around the pier are you excited about the 500 cleaners and barber shops around downtown, besides 2 restaurants is there a place you want to come out to and hang out? Sir or Madam are you stupid have you seen the night life here as the city keep these awful run down night clubs from renovating with stupid laws and worthless noise ordnance. Is this the amazing North County you want to live in, stuck in the the 80’s when progressive cities are making moves and attracting newcomers. Try to light a fire on the beach after 10 pm and you will get tackled by a oside PD. Is this what you want blah blah blah.
The first Q a city should ask it self is what brings people here how do we get them to spend money HERE, how do we get them to purchase goods and services, How do we get from the mess we created. Second Q is why spend over a Mil $$$ on shutting down 4 store front, why not work with them, limit the number, regulate the process embrace the development and tax tax tax them along the way.

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