Cannabis Industry Spends Big Vying for Influence in San Diego County

Move over real estate developers and labor unions because there’s a new special interest on the scene and it’s packing a punch in San Diego’s 2018 supervisors’ race.

The San Diego Union Tribune reports that marijuana businesses are already spending big on the upcmoming election.

The cannabis industry wants to create a sympathetic majority on the board, a feat that requires the election of a marijuana-friendly successor to Ron Roberts, a term-limited supervisor from San Diego who has cautiously supported pro-cannabis policies. The primary is in June, but several members of the industry said they are supporting former state Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher, but they also believe that attorney Omar Passons and former Assemblywoman Lori Saldaña will also support their interests.

They also said they will not support Bonnie Dumanis, the former district attorney who prosecuted members of the industry when she was in law enforcement. They are also focused on the replacement for Bill Horn, a term-limited supervisor from Valley Center, who consistently votes against marijuana. The winning candidates will serve alongside Supervisor Greg Cox of Chula Vista, who has also been open to marijuana businesses.

Marijuana industry spending isn’t unprecedented in San Diego, but this is the first time cannabis businesses are really making a mark since the passage of Proposition 64. And the stakes couldn’t be higher this time around. 

Marijuana advocates and sellers are eyeing repeal of an existing law in San Diego County that essentially bars new dispensaries from setting up shop and will eventually require many current ones to shut down. How the deck is arranged in 2018 will determine whether the marijuana industry has any place in unincorporated areas of the county at all.

Elections have consequences, as the marijuana industry knows all too well. San Diego County lost its previous cannabis-friendly majority when Kristin Gaspar unseated Dave Roberts last year.