SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - Doors opened at 6:30 a.m. Thursday at the Development Services Department near City Hall for people that wanted to obtain a legal medical marijuana shop permit in San Diego. People camped out for three days just to be some of the first through the door.
Last month, the City Council approved a set of zoning regulations that would allow up to four collectives to legally exist in eight of nine city council districts, meaning a total of only 36 permits will be issued.
The restrictions on distances between dispensaries and houses, schools, churches and the like preclude any from being in council President Todd Gloria's district, which includes downtown, Hillcrest and North Park.
About 45 people applied for a conditional use permit to operate a legal medical marijuana shop. Hundreds more are expected. First in line, Michael Banki camped out with his family for three days despite midterm exams.
"We've been here since Sunday," said Banki. "There's been this stigma against cannabis but it helps on so many levels by just ingesting the plant itself the raw leaves," Banki said.
Until the city starts issuing the conditional use permits, all collectives in the city are considered illegal. The mayor's office said the permit process could cost $100,000 and take six months to one year.
Dispensaries also are banned from having on-site medical professionals so they don't become one stop shops.
"Hopefully we can get some good actors in place here who can show the community at large that this is a real health benefit and that dispensaries can actually really be quite uplifting for neighborhoods when given the opportunity to do so," Kimberly Simms, a medical marijuana dispensary supporter said.
The conditional use permit would be good for five years. Collectives operators also will need to get a public safety permit annually from the San Diego Police Department.
By city ordinance, collectives may not be within 1,000 feet of public parks, churches, child care centers, playgrounds, residential care facilities, schools and other dispensaries, and not be within 100 feet of residential zones. Dispensaries also are barred from having on-site medical professionals -- a law intended to prevent such businesses from becoming "one-stop shops."
The city is also investigating complaints against 57 illegal dispensaries, according to the mayor's office.