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City’s permitted more medical marijuana businesses than it thinks it has

September 8, 2009 - 5:21 pm

potToday, the San Diego City Council decided to re-start its Medical Marijuana Task Force. Originally formed in 2001, the task force developed guidelines on what amount of pot a medical marijuana user could have on hand, and was then disbanded—despite a jump in dispensaries in San Diego in 2005 and 2006 and calls for the city to hammer out guidelines for dispensary operations.

With the Supreme Court deciding not to hear San Diego County’s challenge to Prop. 215 (the voter-approved initiative that allows people with a doctor’s recommendation to use marijuana for medical purposes) and Obama saying that raiding medical marijuana dispensaries wasn’t going to be a priority for the DEA, medical-marijuana-related businesses are back.

The city seems to think that only eight of these businesses are legit. According to a July 21 memo from Development Services Director Kelly Broughton, only eight medical marijuana businesses have applied for a city-issued business-tax certificate.

The reality is that dozens have applied for, and been issued, a license—just not under the proper category. Why? Because the city doesn’t have the proper category. Sure, it has a category called “medical marijuana dispensaries,” but labeling yourself as such is asking for trouble—dispensaries are illegal according to guidelines put out by the state Attorney General. Medical marijuana can be distributed through nonproft co-ops and collectives, the A.G. said, and, so, that’s what medical-marijuana-distribution businesses have been calling themselves. They’ve also been applying for a business-tax license under the same categories that dispensaries, collectives and co-ops have historically used. I looked through a year’s worth of business-tax records and here are some of those categories:

* Other misc. store/retailers
* All other health and personal care
* Other direct selling establishment
* Holistic health practitioners
* Food and health supplement store
* Other individual family services

According to Broughton’s memo, it’s up to Development Services to “determine the appropriate use category” for each business that applies for a tax license. This determination is “based on information provided by the applicant.” If that’s true, then it’s surprising that “San Diego Medical Cannabis Collective” (which applied, and received, a tax license under “Other misc. stores/retailers”) didn’t get recategorized. Others are less clear, but not by much: The Green Door Collective (where you can get a contact high simply by standing across the street), the Medicine Man Herbal House of Healing, Island Herbal Collective and Green Kross Collective. Did any of these names raise a red flag for Broughton’s staff? Who knows. As the U-T‘s Helen Gao points out, nobody from Development Services was at today’s City Council meeting to answer questions.

If you look through the city’s business-tax records, using the words “collective,” “cannabis” or “caregivers” as search terms, there are no less than 20 medical-marijuana businesses that have been issues a business-tax license in the last year. CalNORML lists at least another dozen—and notice how they’re no longer using the term “dispensary,” either.

Since it’s illegal for any business that sells or distributes medical marijuana to make a profit, the next step is to check these businesses against the California Secretary of State’s business records. Perhaps that’ll be one of the task-force’s recommendations, unless a reporter with time on his/her hands gets around to it first.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Rob H. permalink
    September 9, 2009 - 12:35 pm 12:35 pm

    Kinda funny how these “non-profit” collectives seem to have no trouble coming up with a year’s rent IN ADVANCE. Likewise, how out-of-town operators “representing sixty collectives” in L.A. and San Francisco show up in San Diego, eager to set up shop. With their attorneys on retainer, of course.
    Remember, it’s all about the compassion, not the profits.

  2. Rob H. permalink
    September 9, 2009 - 12:42 pm 12:42 pm

    C is for Compassion.
    A is for attorneys.
    R is for really sick people…really.
    T is for threatening anyone who opposes “dispensaries.”
    E is for environment, because pot farms belong in the forest.
    L is for lots of money.

    • September 9, 2009 - 6:29 pm 6:29 pm

      where you the douchbag at city council meeting yesterday, with the gay “aloha shirt” that screems.. i haven’t been laid in 4 years.. and i need to pull this stick outa my ass and smoke a joint…

      • KStar permalink
        September 10, 2009 - 12:06 pm 12:06 pm

        he was the douche calling them “predatory dispensaries”

  3. September 9, 2009 - 4:46 pm 4:46 pm

    Funny how everything Rob H talked about is not only true, but required, to even begin to think about opening up a Co-Op. It does not take over $100,000 to start a thrift store, why should it cost so much to start a legitimate Co-Op? If it is because nobody, including the politicians and police, really believe it could possibly be non-profit, regardless of the requirements and regulations, then fine. Make it like any other business and tax the crap out of it, or does Ca not need money?

  4. September 9, 2009 - 5:46 pm 5:46 pm

    It is total discrimination. Prior to the bans and moratoriums, sometime in july, the city of san diego stopped issuing business licenses to medical marijuana collectives with extreme prejudice without merit. Forcing collectives to operate without a city business license – which has nothing to do with the state law. The Business Tax is a city tax. How can all these collectives be shut down due to san diego’s disregard for a state law that was passed 10 years ago. Pull your fucking head out of your ass San Diego and get with the program. Set up guidelines, and tax the shit out of it. Yes, shut down the bullshit dispensaries. Yes, form a task force. After these raids I see a lot of tax payers money being wasted on law suits. The city needs to be sued for discrimination. There are a lot of patients right now without safe access to their medication. Great!! take marijuana sales back to the streets, idiots!! Why lose out on all that sales tax, payroll tax, business tax money. This is one of the only “booming” business in this current economy, providing jobs, and putting marijuana & marijuana sales in a place that could be watched and regulated. You make the call – Mexican drug cartels or collective member “local” growers.

  5. I also have common sense permalink
    September 9, 2009 - 5:58 pm 5:58 pm

    Collectives were putting drug dealers out of business and making sure that medicine was only given to verified patients. If you don’t understand that, your a dumb ass!

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