New San Diego Mayor Ends “Persecution” of a Dozen Pot Shops

Friday, January 11, 2013
San Diego Mayor Bob Filner

The first Democrat elected mayor in San Diego since Maureen O’Connor in 1986 wasted little time in shaking up that famously staunch Republican city when he denounced the “persecution” of medical marijuana dispensaries by the city attorney and demanded that prosecutions of pot shops be stopped.

Mayor Bob Filner, a former 10-term member of Congress and considered one of the most liberal members on Capitol Hill, ordered police and code compliance officers on Thursday to stop going after dispensaries. He also called for a temporary halt to city prosecutions while new regulations are put together for distribution of the drug.

Filner’s authority is limited, however. He does not control the state District Attorney’s Office, and perhaps more importantly, has little influence with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, which has been cracking down on dispensaries across the state for more than a year.

Although California legalized medical marijuana in 1996 and authorized nonprofit cooperatives as dispensaries in 2004, federal law still criminalizes possession and sale of the drug.

Filner campaigned for mayor on a platform that included support for medical marijuana, and has a long congressional record of supporting an end to the nation’s sputtering drug war, co-sponsoring the failed States’ Rights to Medical Marijuana Act in 2001.  

He met with the San Diego chapter of Americans for Safe Access earlier in the week and called out City Attorney Jan Goldsmith for the “persecution” of marijuana advocates. Filner suggested that the group might have to stage protests to influence policy.

Goldsmith responded that Filner was making much ado about nothing. “Rather than pursue the drama last night and call for a demonstration, you could have achieved your goal in less than 30 seconds,” Goldsmith wrote in a letter he had hand-delivered to Filner. All Filner had to do was call the city attorney, Goldsmith said, and he would have learned he had the power as mayor to end the city actions.

So that’s what Filner did, with letters to the police chief and Development Services director to stop the code enforcement.

Goldsmith, who has overseen closure of about 100 dispensaries since 2011 at the behest of police and code enforcement officials, also said he would drop pending prosecutions of a dozen pot shops.  

But the 100 shops already out of business are out of luck.

–Ken Broder


To Learn More:   

Filner Halts Prosecution of Pot Shops (by Craig Gustafson, U-T San Diego)

San Diego Mayor Orders End to Legal Action against Marijuana Dispensaries (by Tony Perry, Los Angeles Times)

San Diego’s New Mayor Bob Filner Fires Some Parting Shots at Congress (by Kitty Felde, KPCC)

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