After years of struggling to close illegal marijuana dispensaries in Chula Vista, the city has finally shut them down.
Officials announced during a press conference Friday that every single illegal pot shop in the city has been closed.
Illegal dispensaries have been a thorn in the city’s side for years. City officials described the problem as a never-ending game of whack-a-mole in which the city shut one down only to have another one open nearby.
“This really has been one of the most vexing challenges of my tenure,” said City Attorney Glen Googins.
Googins said illegal operators have no respect for the law and make so much money that they can hide their identities, hire lawyers to delay civil enforcement efforts and get away with relatively minor fines and temporary shutdowns.
The illegal shops have operated in the open for years — advertising online, hiring sign spinners, decorating storefronts in western Chula Vista and operating 24/7.
The city credits multiple factors to shutting down the illegal dispensaries; there were as many as 30 in Chula Vista.
Googins specifically mentioned Councilman Mike Diaz, who represents western Chula Vista, for being a “champion” on the issue.
One of the key factors was the creation of Chula Vista’s first ever criminal prosecution unit and the involvement of District Attorney Summer Stephan, who actively sought felony charges and asset forfeitures, Googins added.
Although Friday’s press conference had a celebratory tone, both the mayor and chief of police stressed that they will continue to take a hard stance on illegal operators.
“What I’d like our community to know, is our personnel stand ready to shut down and arrest any other illegal operators should they open in our city,” Chief Roxana Kennedy said.
Both Kennedy and Stephan said