Camino del Rio South becoming pot shop center?

Two dispensaries established and a third in application phase

Camino del Rio South seems poised to become home to a third medical marijuana dispensary — and it's rumored that there may be a fourth in the works.

Blake Marchand has applied to the city for a conditional use permit to set up shop at 2835 Camino de Rio South and has indicated that once he gets approval he intends to complete the purchase of the building.

Marchand said he knows of another would-be dispensary that has an application started. His shop will be a half mile from two other legally permitted dispensaries: the Healing Center in the 3300 block, and Emerald Courtyard in the 3400 block. They are among just 15 legal dispensaries in the city of San Diego.

On Thursday (December 8), the city released proposed rules for recreational marijuana dispensaries; they appear to be identical to the medical marijuana shop rules.

The process of seeking a permit — which doesn't promise that you'll get one — is arduous, Marchand said.

"You have to give the city $8800 to start and then it takes months for them to do the research and get back to you," Marchand said. "If your account drops below $5000, the work stops until you put more money in."

With the four-per-district limit, having an application in and waiting for a response doesn't mean you get the permit, he said. For Marchand, who intends to close the purchase of the building (a three-story office building with a waterfall in the atrium), time is money.

"You have to pay the owners to keep the building in escrow and hope they can be patient," Marchand said. "If you don't have a lot of money or investors, you couldn't do this at all."

Other tenants in the building went to the Mission Valley planning group meeting Wednesday (December 7) to express their concerns about a dispensary in the building.

"It makes things less professional when your clients smell weed everywhere," said Lisa Falls, an art therapist.

Becca, who runs Life Energy Massage Therapy, said she was worried about a change in the ambiance of the building, which she called "a wonderful oasis."

"I'm not taking a moral stand," Becca said. "I would never be in a building with a liquor store in it either." She was particularly worried because she recently brought in two massage therapists who would probably not want to be somewhere where people are smoking pot in the parking lot.

"The normal thing for a dispensary is to have armed security and cameras all over the place," she said. "Parking would be unbelievably bad."

Marchand said he plans to have the dispensary blend in, like the two existing ones on Camino del Rio South do.

"You drive down the street and there's no indication that there are dispensaries here," he said. "That's how it should look."

Asked why he picked Camino del Rio South, Marchand said he had looked around at many locations, but the decision has to be guided by city rules that allow four dispensaries per council district.

Camino del Rio South is in District 3, formerly Todd Gloria's. He resigned earlier this week to be sworn in in Sacramento, leaving the seat empty until Chris Ward will be sworn in on Monday (December 12). According to city records, districts 2, 6, and 8 already have the maximum allowed number of dispensaries.

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