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San Diego
Saturday, May 18, 2024

Dispensaries Out to Quash Cannabis Competition

Marijuana will soon be legal across California. However, here in San Diego, there’s still one big cartel left vying for control over the local industry: the United Medical Marijuana Coalition.

The members of the UMMC are owners of the 10 largest licensed cannabis dispensaries within the San Diego city limits. Just one year ago, they were in a similar situation to what delivery services currently face, petitioning the city to hear out their concerns and set reasonable regulations.

Now, they’re on the offensive to eliminate unlicensed retailers that try to compete, including delivery services, who have never been given a chance at licensing by the city. In fact, until this month, there was no permit process for any business type other than the aforementioned retail storefronts.

Three days before the City Council was to address retail licensing issues, the UMMC urged the council not to even hear out the issue of standalone delivery services. Regardless of our right as citizens and business owners to petition the council, and in spite of the support for delivery by supply-chain operators like growers and edible manufacturers, the UMMC worked hard to ensure we wouldn’t have a chance.

Providing a path to legalization for delivery services was certainly not on the City Council agenda, even after SB 94 passed allowing delivery in California. To sway them, proponents joined us en masse at the council chambers to convey the reality that delivery services are a necessary part of caring for sick, elderly and disabled patients, and that companies specialized in caring for these patients must have a path to legalization in order to ensure consumer and public health and safety.

We stood up for delivery and ended up achieving our goal. The council will now consider a standalone delivery service license type after analysis by the Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods Committee. This process will review rules, limitations and safety standards for delivery services.

High Demand for Delivery

An estimated 50 percent of all cannabis sales in California are delivery orders. Currently, only eight of the UMMC-affiliated dispensaries are permitted to deliver, and demand will spike with the legalization of adult sales in January.

Standalone delivery services have been depicted as fly-by-night operations that have no place in the legal market. The truth is that we are here to stay and are taking every step possible toward legitimacy — just as the members of the UMMC were two years ago when all dispensaries were still deemed illegal and had to lobby for a local retail ordinance.

It’s apparent that these loud and proud “legal shops” have a short memory and are willing to use underhanded tactics to ensure they are the only ones allowed to sell marijuana in San Diego next year. With a freeze on new dispensaries in the unincorporated county, there is simply no way that a dozen of storefronts in the city can adequately serve San Diego County’s 4,500 square miles.

Time to Address Issues

There is a one-year grace period for cannabis operators to continue until the local Conditional Use Permit system is implemented. We will fight for responsible regulation and operation of our businesses.

We differ from traditional dispensaries in many ways and don’t plan to compete with them. Most delivery services cater to medical marijuana patients who are homebound because of age, illness, disability or mobility issues. However, we also support adults who want to obtain legal cannabis while preserving their privacy, comfort and convenience. We can help the city meet high demand, producing even more cannabis tax revenue, without a store on every corner.

Legalization is here, and the best way to make it beneficial for our city is by working together. The San Diego Cannabis Delivery Alliance stands with all operators striving to respectfully provide safe, legal cannabis to our neighborhoods.

Elizabeth Wilhelm is President of the San Diego Cannabis Delivery Alliance.


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