Pubdate: Tue, 10 Mar 2015
Source: San Diego Union Tribune (CA)
Copyright: 2015 Union-Tribune Publishing Co.
Note: Seldom prints LTEs from outside it's circulation area.
Author: David Garrick


San Diego - A group trying to open one of San Diego's first legal 
marijuana dispensaries is attacking the city's approval process, 
saying it allows speed to trump quality and does not ban applicants 
who previously operated illegal pot shops.

The criticisms come days before the Planning Commission is scheduled 
to give final approval to a Midway District dispensary that many have 
criticized as too small and that would be run by a man who once 
operated an illegal dispensary.

Competition to open first is fierce, because San Diego's ordinance 
allows a maximum of four dispensaries in each of the city's nine 
council districts, and it prohibits dispensaries from being approved 
within 1,000 feet of one another.

If Point Loma Patients Cooperative gets Planning Commission approval 
on Thursday, it will kill the chances of at least four other proposed 
dispensaries located within 1,000 feet - including the applicant 
criticizing the system, D&D Cooperative.

Donna Jones, an attorney for D&D, said the Planning Commission should 
delay Thursday's decision until four other dispensaries a few weeks 
behind in the approval pipeline can be considered simultaneously at 
one hearing.

She said it's bad policy that the city must approve the first 
proposed dispensary to make its way through the approval process, 
regardless of whether other proposed dispensaries would be superior 
in terms of location, size or other factors.

"The neighborhood, the community and the city as a whole would be 
best-served by ensuring that all of the competing applications 
receive a full and fair hearing and that the city be in a position to 
select the application that best meets the city's and the 
neighborhood's needs," she said.

Jones contends Point Loma Patients Cooperative would be an inferior 
dispensary because it would be significantly smaller than the others 
proposed and it lacks sidewalks needed to provide pedestrians and 
mass transit users convenient access.

Lawyers for Point Loma Patients Cooperative didn't address the size 
concerns, but noted that having sidewalks is not required.

City officials, who are recommending the Planning Commission approve 
the application, agree that the city's process is about speed, not quality.

"Applications are processed on a first-come, first-served basis," 
Development Services Department officials say in a recent memo. "The 
applications that resolve issues and resubmit revised plans 
expeditiously will be scheduled for a hearing faster than other applications."

Jones also said Point Loma Patients Cooperative should be rejected 
because the man proposing the dispensary, Adam Knopf, previously 
operated an illegal pot shop less than 2 miles to the west called 
Point Loma Patients Association.

"The city should not reward a habitual violator who continues to 
waste city resources and abuse the administrative process," she said.

Knopf's lawyers say he resigned from that illegal dispensary a few 
weeks before the city ordinance was approved. They also say operating 
it wasn't clearly illegal before the ordinance, calling the city's 
pre-ordinance rules on dispensaries "vague and ambiguous."

The city's ordinance doesn't include previous operation of a 
dispensary among the approval criteria, with only those convicted of 
a violent felony or crime of moral turpitude deemed ineligible.

The City Attorney's Office said Monday that the Planning Commission 
has the discretion to delay Thursday's vote, but that the applicant 
could seek automatic approval by contending the city was not 
complying with the Permit Streamlining Act.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom