Marijuana Crackdown Has a Good Day

Government

Marijuana Crackdown Has a Good Day

The city tells advocates not to try to open marijuana storefronts.

 

Mayor Bob Filner got national attention when he announced the city was surrendering its battle against marijuana dispensaries and U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy seemed to waffle on her contention that marijuana was illegal no matter what.

Both might have buoyed advocates for access to medical marijuana but both turned out to be bogus.

Duffy, the U.S. attorney who covers San Diego says she is not softening her stance on marijuana and will continue the enforcement actions that closed hundreds of local dispensaries.

At the same time, Filner is walking back his own demand that the city of San Diego abandon enforcement actions against dispensaries of the drug. The move had garnered national attention.

And the City Council decided unanimously Tuesday to continue civil actions against marijuana collectives in the city. The city attorney, mayor and City Council President Todd Gloria issued a joint statement telling advocates of marijuana access not to try to open dispensaries.

The mayor, long sympathetic to the marijuana access community, appears to have persuaded Gloria to consider a rushed “emergency” ordinance to accommodate dispensaries in the city.

But it will be based on the ordinance that marijuana advocates found too restrictive and forced the city to repeal two years ago.

And even if it is somehow passed, U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy’s reiteration that she’s not giving away any ground leaves the whole thing moot.

Duffy had told U-T San Diego the reason she targeted dispensaries in late 2011 was because they didn’t comply with state law. I seized on those statements because they implied that, were dispensaries to comply with state law somehow, they might be in the clear.

Nope, she said today in a statement:

It would be a mistake to interpret my comments as a softening of our position. I have made it clear many times that under federal law, marijuana is illegal, period. My reference to state law was intended to help explain that profit is one of many factors we consider when exercising our prosecutorial discretion. We have targeted and will continue to target individuals and entities making retail sales of marijuana for profit because they are the source of the community ills, such as high-volume sales to minors and the increase in crime in adjacent neighborhoods, that led to citizen complaints and compelled law enforcement action.

Her threats to dispensary operators and their landlords wiped the cityscape clean of storefronts and signs advertising marijuana that proliferated in 2010 and 2011. And her determination to keep up the pressure means what the city does may not matter at all.

The City Council met behind closed doors early Tuesday and voted 7-0 to continue to enforce the city’s current medical marijuana ordinance. That’s despite Filner’s recent order that city staffers stop referring dispensary violations to City Attorney Jan Goldsmith’s office.

While it’s unclear what happened in closed session, it appears the City Council did not want to abandon enforcement of current cases against medical marijuana collectives.

That would have been awkward with the mayor’s edict that the city stop enforcing that code citywide.

And so the mayor was forced to retract a decision that garnered him nationwide attention.

“San Diego surrenders its war on medical marijuana,” is how the Christian Science Monitor put it.

The mayor, city attorney and City Council have apparently called the war back on as they consider an emergency ordinance.

It’s an ordinance that the U.S. attorney apparently won’t respect at all.

I’m Scott Lewis, the CEO of Voice of San Diego. Please contact me if you’d like at scott.lewis@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.325.0527 and follow me on Twitter (it’s a blast!):

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Disclosure: Voice of San Diego members and supporters may be mentioned or have a stake in the stories we cover. For a complete list of our contributors, click here.

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