This week, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors met and voted to dismantle the area’s cannabis industry.
The majority of San Diego County residents voted to approve Prop 64 in November, legalizing recreational marijuana use and its regulated sale, but that this seems to bother the Supervisors very little, who voted 3-2 in favor of banning cannabis sales and cultivation in unincorporated cities within the county.
“Voters all the time approve measures that require local elected officials to manage the unintended consequences,” Board member Kristin Gaspar, who voted for the ban, told the San Diego Union Tribune.
And while SD County includes 12 incorporated cities like Imperial Beach and Encinitas that will not be affected by the ban, the county also houses almost 100 unincorporated areas where cannabis businesses will be illegal.
As for the three dispensaries that already grace these unincorporated areas, the new ban requires them to close their doors within five years. Two dispensaries already in the permitting process will be allowed to open and operate until 2022, but are will still required to close at that five-year mark.
“We played by the rules, exactly the rules that were put forth. We did everything we can to play by those rules,” Lincoln Fish, CEO of the El Cajon based Outliers Collective that will be required to close in the five-year window. “And now you’re changing the game on us.”
For county Supervisor Dianne Jacob, who voted for the ban, removing the cannabis industry is a preemptive strike against what she says is a failing model in Colorado.
“We only need to look at Colorado to realize that the legalization of marijuana has been a disaster and has not produced the net revenue that was expected.” Jacob the Union Tribune.
Jacob continued her justification for the ban by claiming that marijuana harms children. And while the referendum passed on a 3-2 vote, others holding county office weren’t so keen to rid San Diego county of regulated cannabis.
“An unregulated industry without controls, the black market will put product on the market that could be inferior or tainted,” County Planning Commissioner Bryan Woods said.
Cannabis industry insiders expect county residents and politicians alike to enact a countywide initiative that would overturn the ban, but as of now, that’s purely speculation. For the time being, San Diego County will reject all cannabis businesses from its unincorporated areas.