San Diego City Council’s Cannabis dilema, to deliver or not to deliver?

Today's San Diego City Council vote could allow 300 local businesses to stay operational.


I’m not a professionally trained writer, but I do like to use my mind and my heart to put the truth to use. So, before I speak, I always ask myself these questions:

Is it true?

Is it kind?

And, is it necessary?

Naturally, when I was asked to be the publisher of CANNA Business Now magazine, I knew these were three principles I would be looking for as I built my writing team.  As a business development and sales professionals for more years than I’ll admit, I’ve learned if you want people to listen, you must speak to your audience.  But how does one do this when you’re trying to reach a larger community, one with opposing sides of an argument?  I say, by telling the truth when it is necessary, in a kind way, thus allowing people to make an informed decision of their own.

Recently I was contacted by Elizabeth Wilhelm, president of the San Diego Cannabis Delivery Alliance and a medical cannabis delivery provider. She called concerned about the 300 businesses, including hers, that is in jeopardy of having to close their doors or rather car doors, I should say.  We discussed at length concerns about not allowing businesses like hers and Left Coast Collective, who want to stay lawful, the permits or licenses they are seeking from the city so they will be able to obtain a new state license starting Jan 1.  By my rough calculations on the numbers she gave me, this issue affects upwards of 750,000 San Diegans!  She also 100% confirmed the concerns I had leaving the past Encinitas City Council meeting, in which I listened to equally concerned, but uninformed, parents plead that their representatives not to allow these businesses into their city. Maybe you haven’t noticed, but these businesses are already here. These businesses are the result of time and effort from local health-focused entrepreneurs, who strive for success in their company like anyone else. Refusing to issue permits that keep these businesses legal only invites the criminal side of cannabis into our town.

“Yes,” Wilhelm stated, “this is what we are concerned about as well.  We want to continue to allow San Diegans safe access.”  Is it not the duty of our officials to protect their citizens by creating a safe and regulated environment? Not according to our County Board of Supervisors, whose ban on new cannabis business earlier this year may be the reason municipalities are hesitant to issue the aforementioned permits to existing delivery services.

Meanwhile, Los Angeles is giving out hundreds of delivery service permits so that the city can stay in compliance once state licensing is available, starting January 1.  Cities that have committed to allowing only delivery services, like Beverly Hills, give rise to the hope that municipalities like Encinitas and Del Mar may do the same.  But, a San Diego ordinance passed earlier this year may have changed that in the blink of an eye, allowing only storefronts to deliver in the city, and in turn, encouraging law enforcement to shut down these businesses that have been operating lawfully up until that point.

“Right now, [delivery services] have been operating ‘legally’ under SB 420 and Prop 215,” explains Wilhem. “But on January 1 those protections are gone, so it’s imperative that we get language inserted this Monday so that as we approach this deadline, licenses can be issued for delivery. Without a local license no one can get a state license, so essentially they’d be putting three hundred small businesses out of business.”

You may have heard of Left Coast previously, thanks to the Union-Tribune article that reported on the raid of their business in August. The article stated that 40 pounds of cannabis and $5,600 cash were seized, in addition to 12 arrests that night. The article also states that cocaine was seized in the raid. I, along with everyone I had spoken to in the cannabis community about UT Reporter Pauline Repard’s article, immediately assumed the raid was probably warranted. However, that article was misleading to the public.

I was lucky enough to speak with the owner of Left Coast Collective mere days after the raid, and after hearing his side of the story from that day, I was in shock. Ever since I have been asking him to let me publish their version of what happened that day.

The cocaine supposedly found on the premises was in fact only a trace amount discovered in a parked vehicle across the street. The owner of Left Coast also informed me that the amount of marijuana found was incorrect and exaggerated. This article and many similar ones in its wake include erroneous information that only serves to persuade the reader in criminalizing Left Coast Collective, as had I before my conversation with them.

Just last Friday, Kenny Jacoby and Tom Jones of NBC San Diego reported again about Left Coast: “[SDPD Lt. Matt Novak]’s unit served its first search warrant to a delivery service in early August. It raided Left Coast Collective, which was operating on Kurtz Street in the Midtown District, and found more than 40 pounds of marijuana, 100 plants, and some cocaine, according to Novak. A Deputy City Attorney assigned to the Left Coast Collective case said charges have not been filed yet.”

Despite what the owner of Left Coast told me, the police department is still telling reporters that cocaine was involved. This kind of poor communication not only affects the reputation of a local business but also skews the representation of the cannabis community as a whole in the eyes of the public.

Lt. Novak of the San Diego Police Department also stated to NBC that he receives “constant complaints” from neighbors of cannabis business, but this statement seems almost impossible to prove, especially when many of these delivery services have been operating under the radar of the public eye for up to 20 years. Whether or not this may include storefronts, which have signage and public traffic at their locations, is not clear. I find it hard to believe that these delivery services, with no signage, in commercial offices, located in industrial areas, using the same security measures as storefronts, are getting any complaints. But if you are reading this and you have complained and/or have been affected negatively…please reach out..I’d like to hear your story!


Bottom line:

Today’s City Council meeting at 2 pm could have a major impact on upwards of 750,000 Diegans’ current access to medication (close to 1/3 our population) & 300 currently lawful, tax-paying San Diego businesses that are passionate about health & wellness (some in operation for 20 years under SB 420 & Prop 215).

Those in support are asked to be present at a Pre-Council Meeting Rally and Press Release starting at 1 pm at 202 C Street, San Diego, CA 92101.

Whether or not you are able to attend, please share this message with your San Diego friends.

Vanessa Fleur


CANNA Business Now


Originally posted 2017-09-11 09:54:09.