Legal Marijuana Shops Are Taking on the Black Market

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Excerpt from Voice of San Diego
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Another cannabis industry report compiled by California State University San Marcos this year counted 83 unlicensed cannabis dispensary busts by the Sheriff’s Department since 2018, with the total cost of enforcement around $215,000. County Supervisor Joel Anderson told me that 64 of those unlicensed dispensaries were in his district, which covers the large eastern swath of the county.

With Anderson’s support in January, the board voted 4-1 to effectively overturn the ban and since then has been working to finalize the finer points of an ordinance, which is expected to come back for a second vote in the fall.

“I’m in a tough spot,” Anderson said. “I absolutely support legal cannabis businesses, but I also have a duty to my constituents, who are rightly and loudly complaining about the harm done to them by these illegal dispensaries. It is affecting quality of life and the safety of their communities.”

Another issue, Anderson said, is not merely that these dispensaries exist, but also that they quickly proliferate. Unlicensed dispensaries in eastern San Diego County have been opening much faster than the Sheriff’s Department has been able to shut them down, which Anderson attributes to a lack of funding and manpower. “It’s like whack-a-mole with these pot shops,” he said.