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San Diego: America's Finest City Goes All In On Cannabis

by Jeff Powers, published

Marijuana has a new BFF in the City of San Diego.

The City Council voted 6-3 to legalize cultivation and manufacturing when new state laws take effect in January.

That means America's Finest City now has a legally regulated marijuana industry including:

  • Pot Farms
  • Retail Storefronts
  • Edible Factories

The council also decided to eliminate the cap of two businesses per council district. With nine council districts in total, that would have meant 18 marijuana businesses for the City of San Diego. Instead, led by Councilman Chris Ward, the city council set a cap of 40 businesses.

Chris Ward joined IVN's podcast to talk about the issue. Ward said, "Having sound policy and regulations in place will allow the city to enforce its rules and assist the cannabis industry in regulating itself."

City Council member Barbara Bry noted, "If we don't allow all parts of the supply chain in San Diego we are merely enabling a large black market."

The council also eliminated the rule prohibiting businesses from operating within 100 feet of each other, possibly setting the stage for clusters of businesses and retail stores in a block setting.

Interestingly, Oakland has created the first ever Cannabis College, Oaksterdam University. Founded in 2007, Oaksterdam has over 30,000 graduates from over 30 countries.


Three republican council members voted no including Lori Zapf, Scott Sherman and Chris Cate. Zapf was particularly pointed in her comments saying, "We were elected, if nothing else, to oversee public safety, and I think we're just absolutely going down the wrong road."

Opponents who spoke at the meeting said the dangers of legalizing marijuana could become more severe as more powerful strains have been concocted in recent years. And those new strains are mostly attractive to younger consumers.

The new path was also greeted with objections from San Diego Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman, who argued public safety will be challenged by the vote.

For the county of San Diego, two other cities allow for dispensaries, La Mesa and Lemon Grove. Neither currently allows for cultivation.

Finalized state rules governing recreational marijuana are scheduled to be unveiled in January.


There are 30 businesses in San Diego already selling and growing medicinal marijuana.

Those groups can keep their doors open for a couple more years, but, according to the city council decision, will not have an inside opportunity to grab a legal permit.

Part of the reason is that some are in areas where zoning makes it impossible for them to comply. The council noted any legally permitted business has to be in light to heavy industrial zones.

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