|Richmond Drafting Ordinance for Marijuana Dispensaries
July 16, 2010
Under intense pressure from the existing eight known marijuana dispensaries and an onslaught of emails and phone calls from alleged medical marijuana patients, a majority of the Richmond City Council appears determined to either pass an ordinance next Tuesday allowing and regulating retail marijuana sales in Richmond or allow the existing ones to continue selling illegally without permits.
The several times this has been discussed at City Council meetings, the City Council has largely heard only from people with financial stakes in the lucrative businesses, including out-of-town owners and paid consultants.
In a City where people routinely clamor to be heard, the rest of Richmond is strangely silent. Unlike many controversial proposals, this issue has never been heard by neighborhood councils, the Richmond Neighborhood Coordinating Council, the Public Safety Committee, the West County Alcohol Task Force or the Planning Commission. Based on a decision made by the City Council only weeks ago, many people continue to believe it was postponed until after the November election.
Maybe this silence signifies widespread consent, or maybe people just aren’t paying attention.
The Police Department notes that while there is clearly a need for medical marijuana for legitimate patients, many of the patrons of the existing illegal outlets:
Hang out in and around the premises, treating the establishments more like social clubs or entertainment venues, as opposed to places to receive medication. This creates concerns from other businesses nearby as well as neighborhood residents.
Smoke and/or otherwise use marijuana on the premises. This raises concerns about the establishments’ compliance with State law. It also raises concerns about patrons’ ability to drive safely to and from the establishments. A reality-check suggests that a lot of the behavior we do see is more consistent with dispensaries functioning as social clubs versus being primary care-givers or medical providers.
Seem to be almost exclusively “patients” between 20-30 years of age. While we continue to see a more diverse group of individuals at Council meetings and other public gatherings who insist these establishments are treating a wide swath of patients with serious illnesses and medical conditions, our surveillance around these establishments suggests a much different story: Patrons are primarily quite young and many are individuals with whom our department has come to know through arrests, hanging out at problem locations, etc.
In addition, we have been provided with anecdotal information that robberies involving suppliers, employees, and patrons of these establishments are significantly under-reported to police. We have been told the reason for this is that employees and patrons are actively discouraged from reporting these crimes to the police (for fear it would jeopardize the status of these businesses).
Under Prop. 215, the use of marijuana on the premises of these establishments is not permitted, yet is common at all the establishments we have inspected in Richmond.
If you have an opinion on this, it would be a good idea to come down and be heard at the City Council meeting on July 20. The proposed ordinance is K-3, INTRODUCE an ordinance (first reading) adding Chapter 7.102 (Medical Marijuana Collectives) to the Richmond Municipal Code - City Attorney's Office (Randy Riddle 620-6509).
Richmond drafting ordinance for marijuana dispensaries
By Katherine Tam