By Miriam Raftery
March 1, 2018 (El Cajon) – A search warrant was served this morning at Cloud 9 Wellness, an illegal marijuana dispensary in the 500 block of West Douglas in El Cajon.
“A large amount of cash and marijuana was seized as evidence,” Lieutenant Walt Miller with the El Cajon Police Department states in a press release. Six employees and three armed security guards working at the business were briefly detained but not arrested. However, Lt. Miller notes, “Although the employees were not arrested today, they and the owner of the business may face charges of allowing the Commercial Sale of Marijuana within the City.”
El Cajon Police officers conducted the search with assistance from the San Diego County Integrated Narcotic Task Force. Prior to the warrant being served, Cloud 9 Wellness was warned repeatedly by the El Cajon City Attorney’s office to cease and desist its sales of marijuana, Lt. Miller says, adding, “The owner and employees ignored those warnings and continued the illegal activities.”
The State of California recently legalized the sale of regulated amounts of marijuana from licensed businesses in cities within the state. Cities were however allowed, under the same law, to prohibit the sale of marijuana through local ordinances and municipal codes.
Some cities, such as Lemon Grove and La Mesa, have opted to allow sales of medical marijuana and others, such as San Diego, now allow recreational as well as medical cannabis sales.
However, El Cajon enacted a municipal code that prohibits the sale of marijuana in all parts of the city and does not issue permits or a business license for the sale of marijuana, in accordance with the existing state law.
“This law will be strictly enforced,” says Miller, who contends that marijuana businesses can result in unwanted activities impacting neighbors, “such as discarded drug paraphernalia, excessive loitering, robberies and burglaries.”
While it’s true such activities have been problematic around El Cajon’s illegal dispensaries, a legal dispensary licensed by the county in the unincorporated area of El Cajon has been crime free, the Sheriff’s department has confirmed. Thus, legalization with strict regulations can be an alternative solution to protect public safety while allowing safe access by medical marijuana patients.
Another alternative is regulation through zoning, as in La Mesa, where legal dispensaries will be limited to an industrial zoned area away from residential neighborhoods.