Marijuana co-op raises concerns; Bird Rock residents question its validity.
A medical marijuana cooperative that opened recently in Bird Rock has neighbors fuming, but the establishment’s proprietor said their fears are misguided.
Named San Diego Holistic Healing, the new facility is at 5544 La Jolla Blvd. where Bird Rock Surf shop used to be and next door to Capricorn boutique.
A spokesman for the new facility, who identified himself as Marquis and wouldn’t give his last name, said the establishment is completely legitimate, adding neighbors’ concerns that it may be a front for illegal activity are unfounded.
“It’s not open to the public,” Marquis said. “It’s a members-only cooperative. We don’t sell it (marijuana) for a profit, just exchange it for donations, which is only enough to keep the doors open.”
Marquis said members have cards from physicians certifying they have legitimate medical conditions that can benefit from medicinal marijuana.
“People who come have cancer, AIDs, arthritis, suffer from depression, etc.,” he said, noting medical marijuana is a viable alternative for them because “standard forms of medicine have side effects.”
But many in the community are concerned about the facility’s validity, and are asking, why Bird Rock?
Scott Saham, an attorney with Coughlin Stoia Geller Rudman & & Robbins LLP in San Diego who lives in Bird Rock, said marijuana is an illegal substance under federal Law.
“Yet these facilities allow possession or sharing of marijuana for medical purposes,” he said adding, “They leased in the same building that previously had a medical marijuana facility that police had to shut down. It’s close to a school (Bird Rock Elementary) with hundreds of kids living within a quarter-mile radius.”
Saham added the new facility isn’t required to have anything other than a standard business license to operate, which he finds objectionable.
“It’s unregulated retail in the middle of a densely populated area,” he said. “It’s in direct conflict with federal law that doesn’t allow possession or distribution of marijuana. There’s a clear conflict.”
Fellow Bird Rock resident Joe Parker agrees.
“The general consensus is it doesn’t seem to be an appropriate business for the boulevard or the neighborhood,” he said.
Marquis said his facility is subject to the same regulations as those governing the sale and distribution of alcohol.
“We’re subject to the same zoning laws as liquor stores,” he said. “We can’t be within 1,000 feet of a school. Like liquor stores, people aren’t allowed to consume what’s sold on the premises.”
Marquis added his facility would be properly monitored.
“They’re (city’s) actually setting up a task force right now,” he said. “They have not set out all the rules yet.”
Earlier this month, the City Council voted to set up an 11-member committee clarify the regulations on medical marijuana use. The group will include patients, social service providers and dispensary operators.
Joe LaCava, Bird Rock Community Council president, said the community just wants assurance that the cooperative will be properly regulated.
“If there are people who can medicinally benefit from this, people seem to be OK with that,” he said. “But with all these dispensaries popping up, the concern is they’re really just a front for inappropriate behavior. The city is moving in the right direction to put very firm rules in place.”
Marquis said the cooperative is trying to be low key and intends to follow all the rules.
“If you were going to do something illegal, wouldn’t it make sense to do it behind closed doors?” he asked. “We don’t have a sign in front because we’re not in business for the general public. People walking by wouldn’t know about our location unless they have a card or a reason to know.”
Senate Bill 420
Recognizes the right of patients and caregivers to associate collectively or cooperatively to cultivate medical marijuana.
Disallows marijuana smoking in no smoking zones and within 1,000 feet of a school or youth center (except in private residences).
Requires counties to implement a voluntary patient identification card system and other provisions to protect patients and their caregivers from arrest.
Allow patients up to six mature or 12 immature plants and up to one-half pound of dried, processed marijuana.