Image: trueStatement: “Not a single place has been able to obtain a permit to open in the county since the ordinance was adopted,” Eugene Davidovich, a local medical marijuana advocate with Americans for Safe Access, wrote to the San Diego Reader for a story published Jan. 23.

Determination: True

Analysis: Local medical marijuana advocates, led by Davidovich, have called the county’s approach to permitting dispensaries overly restrictive. They’re technically allowed to open shop, but only in a few remote places.

By prohibiting dispensaries from being near parks, schools, churches, homes and numerous other places, the county supervisors eliminated much of the available real estate in the eastern, unincorporated areas it has land-use control over. County planners said medical marijuana dispensaries might be OK at 15 to 18 sites.

At Tuesday’s board meeting, the supervisors approved an $11,017 fee for the dispensaries and added more language to further cut down on the number of sites. Now county planners estimate 12 to 15 sites might be OK.

Speaking at the meeting during public comment, Davidovich and other medical marijuana advocates continued to call the county’s policy a de facto ban. Before the meeting, Davidovich told The Reader that nobody has been able to get a permit for one of the few sites.

And in fact, that assertion is accurate. The county hasn’t issued any permits for medical marijuana dispensaries in seven months.

Shortly after the county created the rules, two people sought permits and neither has received them, according to county spokesman Michael Workman.

One person asked to apply for a permit at the wrong office, Workman said. County staff directed the person to zoning officials, where the applications are supposed to be filed, but the person never showed up, he said.

A second person actually submitted building plans for a medical marijuana dispensary in the Ramona area. After reviewing the plans, county officials sent them back to the person with notes about what needed to be changed. But the county never heard back from the person, Workman said.

Neither person was approved or denied a permit. The process just stopped in both cases.

Also since the rules were created, the county has closed nine medical marijuana dispensaries that were operating without a permit and have referred three more to county attorneys for review, planning officials said at Tuesday’s meeting.

Since none of them have received permits, we’ve called the statement True. Just to be clear, we’re not weighing on Davidovich’s larger point about the rules constituting a de facto ban. That’s a debate for the county or courts to weigh.

If you disagree with our determination or analysis, please express your thoughts in the comments section of this blog post. Explain your reasoning.

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