Morning Report: Border Patrol Is Tripping Up Legal Pot Operations
Imperial County has opened up to the legal cannabis industry in recent years. If you’ve got the money, the agricultural region remains an attractive place to set up a business because of its relatively cheap labor and electricity rates.
But there’s a major hang-up: Bringing cannabis into the San Diego marketplace means passing through a Border Patrol checkpoint on the drive west.
Pot’s not just legal in California. It’s been deemed essential during the pandemic. Yet the federal government continues to treat it like a schedule one narcotic — the same classification for heroin — and so sometimes its agents confiscate large amounts of product and cash. Other times, they just wave people through.
The checkpoints have been an obstacle for San Diego’s legal industry from the start, Jesse Marx and Maya Srikrishnan report, but the situation has become so bad over the last year that suppliers and other professionals are openly voicing their frustrations.
Some have looked at investment opportunities in Imperial County and balked because of the risk. Others have tried to reason with state, local and federal authorities, so that they might collectively come up with a system that lets the legal marketplace thrive while weeding out illegal suppliers.
This is all complicated by the fact that the legal and illegal cannabis industries have some overlap. The city of San Diego is creating a new bureau to step up enforcement and potentially revoke permits of dispensaries and production facilities that repeatedly violate the rules, the Union-Tribune reports.
Police Shooting Draws Protesters Downtown
Within hours of a police shooting Saturday at Sixth Avenue and A Street, dozens of people were on site demanding to know what had happened. Some called for the immediate release of body camera footage.
SDPD told NBC 7 and other media outlets that the man was wanted for robbery and that as officers approached, he pulled a gun. The city was quick to release a photo of a revolver the man was allegedly carrying and camera footage from a nearby business that appears to show a person raising an object before getting shot. It’s blurry, though.
“If that was not a gun, we want the police charged,” said Tasha Williamson, a former mayoral candidate and activist, according to the U-T.
All officer-involved shootings undergo internal review. Criminal justice reformers also demanded this weekend that all aspects of it be made public when complete.
Before the scene had been completely cleared, a captain with the homicide unit was expressing sympathy for the protesters but also defending the cops involved: “In this case, the officers really had no other response than to use deadly force when someone’s pointing a handgun at them, and it’s unfortunate.”
Still No Widespread Testing Plan for These Seniors
State and county officials have rolled out plans for mass COVID-19 testing in nursing homes, but there’s no roadmap for assisted living facilities, which serve hundreds of the region’s senior citizens.
VOSD contributor Jared Whitlock reports that there’s been little asymptomatic testing of residents and staff at those facilities since the start of the pandemic, meaning that officials are potentially missing people who are unwittingly spreading the virus among a vulnerable population.
The California Department of Social Services, which regulates assisted living facilities, said guidelines are on the way, but it’s not clear whether that plan would amount to universal testing.
There are a lot of assisted living facilities — nearly 600 — but they tend to lean on public health professionals because they don’t commonly employ licensed nurses, who are better equipped to perform testing. Staff also tend to work at multiple facilities because they’re low paid.
Coronavirus Hospitalizations Are Up
Hospitalizations are one of several “triggers” that county public health officials have been monitoring and might use to justify pulling back on the whole reopening-of-society thing. For whatever reason, that hasn’t happened yet. And as you can imagine, we talked more on the podcast about how confused we are by this all.
In the meantime, you could, like County Supervisor Jim Desmond, just shoot cartoon versions of the virus with your gun.
In a new video, Desmond said he’s not worried about the reversal of reopenings in Texas and elsewhere. He argued that the increase in positive cases we’ve seen recently is just a result of testing more asymptomatic people.
However, the number of tests actually went down last week while the number of positive cases went up.
- Several businesses have been forced to shut down for violating state guidelines, the U-T reports, including a Mission Bay amusement park and an Escondido restaurant where employees weren’t wearing masks. State officials are offering to help Imperial County reinstate their public health order after seeing an explosion of new cases.
In Other News
- Earlier this month, video showed SDPD officers in plainclothes putting a woman in an unmarked van following a protest and driving away. One threatened to shoot anyone who followed. The city says its internal investigation won’t be made public. (KPBS)
- People of color make up the majority of students but are underrepresented as teachers. The U-T looked at the diversity gap in education.
- A third inmate has died in San Diego County jail this year. (Union-Tribune)
The Morning Report was written by Jesse Marx, and edited by Sara Libby.