Morning Report: How Spring Valley Became the Wild West of Illegal Pot Shops - Voice of San Diego

Morning Report UNVEILING THE UNSEEN

Morning Report: How Spring Valley Became the Wild West of Illegal Pot Shops

Illegal marijuana dispensaries are opening faster than San Diego County can shut them down, our drinking water rarely meets state safety goals and more.
Firemen from the San Miguel Fire Department help San Diego County Sheriff’s Department deputies cut open a safe and an ATM at an illegal dispensary in Spring Valley. / Photo by Kinsee Morlan

The County Board of Supervisors voted to ban and phase out cannabis dispensaries in unincorporated communities.

Enforcing the ban, it turns out, has been extremely difficult. Illegal pot shops are opening faster than the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department can close them down.

The county knows of nearly 40 illegal pot shops currently operating in the unincorporated county, many of them clustered in Spring Valley and Casa de Oro.

Earlier this month, I tagged along to watch sheriff’s deputies close down an unlicensed cannabis dispensary in Spring Valley. That one has yet to open back up, but two of the four that have shut down since the start of the year are already back up and running.

A sheriff deputy I talked to said part of the problem is that illegal pot shops make a lot of money and the county can only fine the owners of the illegal dispensaries up to $50,000 a year. Plus, any charges against illegal dispensary owners are typically misdemeanors – a legal risk most pot shops are willing to take.

Tina Carlson, the executive director of the Spring Valley Chamber of Commerce, said the illegal cannabis dispensary problem is out of control.

“I get more complaints on marijuana dispensaries than you would believe – emails and phone calls daily,” Carlson told me. “The dispensaries here are relentless. I have seen one dispensary on Dale Avenue in Spring Valley get raided, shut down and then reopen four hours later. It’s like an open wound. They close it and then it’s open and bleeding again.”

Perfect Drinking Water is Impractical

The state of California has ambitious goals for how clean people’s drinking water should be in an ideal world.

In our imperfect reality, however, local water agencies rarely meet those safety standards.

Before you fret, read our Ry Rivard’s explainer on California’s lofty , non-binding clean water goals and why it’s mostly OK that your tap water doesn’t measure up.

Local water agencies are required to meet federal standards for harmful contaminants, and they almost always do. But the state also has another set of standards that are even safer, but which agencies aren’t required to meet. They are, however, required to disclose where they stand on those more ambitious goals.

Issa’s Hot Seat

There are now 10 candidates who’ve thrown their hats in the ring to replace Rep. Darrell Issa in California’s 49th Congressional District.

In this week’s North County Report, Ruarri Serpa catches us up on the candidates who want to replace the retiring congressman.

Also in the roundup of news from the north: The Women’s March comes back to San Marcos, a group of Encinitas residents sue the city over its plans to install a new entry to a city park and more.

• Issa on Wednesday officially endorsed Board of Equalization member Diane Harkey to succeed him. (Times of San Diego)

Waiting on the Wall

Bob Maupin, a retiree who lives on land that touches the international border wall, patrols his property for trespassers from Mexico with a rifle and calls himself a vigilante.

Maupin is waiting with hopeful anticipation for the new border wall President Donald Trump promised.

One year into Trump’s presidency, KPBS border reporter Jean Guerrero looks into different opinions on the unbuilt wall. She features Maupin, but also introduces listeners to Ely Ortiz, an activist who looks for people who get lost while illegally crossing the border and others whose lives are impacted by the border.

• A spokeswoman for the San Diego Symphony emailed me an update on the binational border concert happening Saturday. She said it will include fewer musicians on the U.S. side than originally planned. Organizers are running up against security concerns and only musicians who can carry their instruments 30 minutes to the site will be able to perform.

Border Crossing for Help

A growing number of Americans are crossing into Tijuana to seek rehab for opioid addiction. (Univision)

U.S. citizens crossing the border for cheaper dental and medical procedures is nothing new. Here’s one of my favorite old pieces from CityBeat about people with addiction problems venturing to a clinic in Tijuana to take Ibogaine, a psychoactive drug that gives some people trips so  intense they never want to do mind-altering substances again.

This Reddit thread is offensive and gross in parts, but it also includes a list of services outside of dental and medical that are cheaper in Tijuana, including car repairs and beauty treatments.

• Speaking of border crossing, the Reader’s cover story this week is about a guy who illegally (and easily) crossed into the U.S, but then decided he wanted to go back to Tijuana.

In Other News

• European antitrust officials hit Qualcomm with a $1.2 billion fine, saying the San Diego-based chip maker abused its market dominance. (New York Times)

• The Reader obtained an email KPBS reporter Megan Burks sent to the city last May. In it, Burks explains how the rising homeless population was impacting her neighborhood and likely contributing to the Hepatitis A outbreak. It’s a particularly prescient take on Hep A, given that the city didn’t sense the urgency of the problem until months later. Here’s our timeline of how the hep A crisis unfolded.

• Toys R Us is closing three of its San Diego stores. (NBC 7)

• Ballast Point is opening a brewery in Disneyland. (10 News)

• Flu deaths in San Diego continue to rise. (Union-Tribune)

• As expected, former Padres closer Trevor Hoffman was elected to baseball’s Hall of Fame. (Union-Tribune)

 

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