San Diego — Legalizing recreational marijuana in California could bolster struggling shopping districts with new dispensaries but might displace art galleries and other low-margin businesses by spiking commercial rents.
Those are among the potential land-use effects of marijuana legalization discussed during a Tuesday morning forum in downtown San Diego sponsored by the Urban Land Institute.
The forum also covered San Diego’s relatively new medical marijuana ordinance, which a local Planning Commissioner called “a horrible compromise,” and new state legislation that’s finally brought clarity to California nearly 20 years after state voters approved medical marijuana.
The forum was highlighted by Denver journalist Patricia Calhoun describing the effects of Colorado legalizing recreational marijuana two years ago. Her comments were timely, with signature gathering getting under way in California for a November ballot measure that would do the same here.
She said dispensaries, some with storefronts as sleek as Banana Republic and Apple stores, have revitalized downtown Denver and also some smaller nearby cities with struggling retail districts.
Colorado has 500 total dispensaries, with 300 in Denver.