While San Diego may not have the same level of historical prominence in the cannabis movement as San Francisco or Los Angeles, the city has its own unique history and relationship with cannabis. Here’s an overview of key moments in the history of cannabis in San Diego:
Early 20th century: Cannabis use and cultivation were prevalent in California, including San Diego, until the 1930s when it was criminalized under the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937.
1970s-1980s: The war on drugs intensified in the United States, leading to increased anti-cannabis sentiment and law enforcement crackdowns on cultivation and distribution. Nonetheless, the use of cannabis persisted in San Diego, particularly among surfers and counterculture communities.
1996: California passed Proposition 215, the Compassionate Use Act, which legalized medical cannabis in the state. San Diego, along with the rest of California, saw the establishment of medical cannabis dispensaries to provide patients with access to cannabis for medicinal purposes.
Late 1990s-2000s: San Diego experienced several crackdowns on medical cannabis dispensaries, as local authorities and the federal government clashed over the implementation of state medical cannabis laws. Many dispensaries were forced to close, leading to ongoing legal battles and uncertainty for medical cannabis patients in the region.
2016: California voters passed Proposition 64, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, which legalized recreational cannabis use for adults aged 21 and over. San Diego began allowing recreational cannabis dispensaries to operate in the city, though strict zoning regulations limited the number of dispensaries and their locations.
Present day: The cannabis industry in San Diego has continued to grow, with dispensaries, cultivation facilities, and cannabis-related businesses contributing to the local economy. The city has also seen an increase in cannabis tourism, with visitors coming to experience San Diego’s cannabis culture and attend events such as the annual San Diego Cannabis Farmers Market.
San Diego’s history with cannabis has been marked by both acceptance and resistance, reflecting the broader tensions between state and federal cannabis laws in the United States. As the industry continues to evolve, it is likely that San Diego will play an increasingly important role in the future of cannabis in California and beyond.