|Weed - Coming to a Shop Near You
November 13, 2009
With wall to wall shops running out of space in Oakland, the marijuana vending business is lighting up in Richmond. Two stores are already open, and more are on the way. Currently, “medical” marijuana can be purchased from:
2924 Hilltop Mall Rd
You need to be a qualified medical marijuana patient with cannabis card to buy weed legally, but apparently such cards are just slightly harder to obtain than a prepaid telephone calling card.
Reportedly, Point Richmond landlord Walter Connolly has leased a space on the Point Richmond Triangle for an outlet conveniently near the Farmer’s Market, making Point Richmond what – the “Agricultural Triangle?”.
This is big business, with such outlets grossing as much as $25 million annually.
Companies are also scouring Richmond for large but comparatively cheap warehouses and greenhouses for large scale commercial pot growing.
While other cities have either been passing moratoria or embracing pot as a revenue source in tough times, Richmond has apparently been asleep at the wheel.
On February 7, 2206, the City Council assigned the Public Safety Committee to look into the issue. The Minutes reflect:
City Clerk announced this was the time set, pursuant to published notice, to introduce a Zoning Ordinance Text Change (ZTC 05-2) amending Section 15.04.910.080 of the Richmond Municipal Code to require medical marijuana dispensaries to obtain a Conditional Use Permit and to establish regulations and criteria for medical marijuana dispensaries, amending Section 15.04.230.040 by adding medical marijuana dispensaries as a Conditional Use in the C-3, Regional Commercial District. Richard Mitchell, Planning and Building Director presented an overview of the matter. Mayor Anderson declared the public hearing open. Corky Booze gave comments on the matter. Discussion ensued. On motion of Councilmember Bates, seconded by Councilmember Marquez, closed the public hearing, by the unanimous vote of the Council. Following discussion, on motion of Councilmember Bates, seconded by Councilmember Marquez to refer the matter to the Public Safety Public Services Standing Committee to have input from the Police Department and to review and finalize the recommendations from the Planning Commission. On motion of Councilmember Bates, seconded by Councilmember Marquez, referred the matter to Public Safety Public Services Standing Committee, by the following vote: Ayes: Councilmembers Butt, Bates, Marquez, Griffin, Rogers, Viramontes, and Mayor Anderson. Noes: Councilmember McLaughlin. Abstentions: Councilmember Thurmond. Absent: None.
On March 27, 2006, the Public Safety Committee took up the issue:
Discussion regarding a proposed herb shop on 3817 Macdonald Avenue: Linda Jackson, National Remedies Health Center asked for support to be able to continue her business and provide ill persons with the option of safely and legally using medical marijuana. Her dispensary is in the C-2 zoned district, which does not allow for this use currently. The current zoning ordinance does not currently allow for applications of medical marijuana dispensaries. The proposed amendment to the zoning ordinance to allow for medical marijuana dispensaries was before the City Council and was sent back to the Planning Commission for further study. Lori-Reese Brown, Planning Department, stated that a moratorium was placed on uses such as medical marijuana dispensaries in the City of Richmond. The Planning Department presented an amendment of the current zoning ordinance to the Planning Commission to allow for uses such as medical marijuana dispensaries in C-3 zoned districts only.
OUTCOME: On motion of Councilmember Bates, seconded by Councilmember Rogers this matter was referred to the full City Council to discuss whether to Council wants to pursue allowing the zoning change to allow for medical Marijuana dispensaries.
On May 19, 2006, the Public Safety Committee once again debated:
Approve staff’s recommendation to make Medical Marijuana Dispensaries a nonpermitted use in the City of Richmond: Based upon discussion with various law enforcement agencies, Richard Mitchell, Planning Director, stated that at this time the current ordinance should not be amended. Currently, the City has no tools for determining what is or is not being sold. Under Federal Law any use of marijuana is illegal. Chief Magnus stated that establishments that sell medical marijuana would create a negative impact on the neighborhood and the City should not go forward with granting the use of these establishments. The monitoring aspect of these establishments is very difficult. In May 2005 the medical marijuana establishment currently on Macdonald reported theft of cash and an unknown quantity of marijuana. There have also been numerous calls reported regarding the Hilltop location and a surveillance camera was used to monitor the area and it was concluded that this was a problem. Anna Matheson, Legal Counsel San Francisco Field Representative, DEA, stated that under the Controlled Substances Act, the possession and distribution of Marijuana is prohibited under federal law irrespective of any state law. There is currently no medical value associated with marijuana. OUTCOME: On motion of Councilmember McLaughlin, seconded by Councilmember Rogers recommended to the City Council that this matter be referred to the General Plan Update process.
Apparently, no City action ensued after May 19, 2006.
Following is an interesting article about the surge of marijuana shops in California.
Medical marijuana shops abound in California
Posted: Nov 5, 2009 02:23 PM
Updated: Nov 9, 2009 03:56
AM By GREG RISLING
and MARCUS WOHLSEN
SEBASTOPOL, Calif. (AP) - A surge in medical marijuana in California has left communities trying to regulate or ban the drug. This wine country town has welcomed a dispensary as a strong source of tax revenue during the recession.
Peace in Medicine marijuana dispensary is a clean, modern operation in a former auto dealership, and has more registered patients than the town has residents. It could easily be mistaken for a doctor's office, if not for the three security guards and overwhelming skunky smell of pot.
"I guess I had my prejudices that it was going to have bars on the windows and be something very obvious and unappealing to the public," longtime city councilman Larry Robinson said.
Now the dispensary is about to open a second location, next to a Starbucks.
"I'm the luckiest guy inthe world to be leading this thing," said Peace in Medicine's operator, Robert Jacob.
In Los Angeles - the marijuana dispensary capital of the country - about 800 dispensaries are estimated to have opened despite a 2007 order halting new pot operations.
The explosion is blamed on a loophole in the City Council's moratorium. Final regulations are still not in place.
The struggle has been linked to the vagueness of the ballot initiative that California voters passed in 1996 legalizing medical use of the drug. The measure makes no mention of how or where the drug can be sold.
"I think Los Angeles has made this more difficult by not having acted sooner," said Joe Elford, chief counsel for Americans for Safe Access, a pro-medical marijuana group. "There has been pressure for a long time on the City Council to do something."
The issue took on greater urgency after the Obama administration announced looser federal marijuana guidelines last month.
Federal crackdowns followed the 1996 vote, and fear of prosecution kept pot storefronts out of many areas. But looser federal guidelines, first signaled by Attorney General Eric Holder in February and further outlined in an October memo, have emboldened would-be dispensary operators. The new guidelines simply instruct federal prosecutors to avoid prosecution when dispensaries comply with state medical marijuana laws.
Sacramento is looking to other pot-tolerant cities such as San Francisco, Oakland and Malibu for insight into keeping medical marijuana available but in check.
Most of the state capital's 39 registered dispensaries opened this year before the city passed an emergency moratorium in June.
"They're seeing a little bit of leniency in the federal government that they haven't seen before," said Michelle Heppner, who is leading the city's effort to regulate dispensaries. "They're seeing this as a perfect time in their movement to progress."
One key for cities is finding a way to ensure dispensaries truly operate as nonprofits as called for by state Attorney General Jerry Brown.
Officials in Fresno have decided the best way to avoid problems with dispensaries is to not have any. In 2006, the City Council passed a zoning ordinance requiring any pot dispensaries to comply with both state and federal law, and the U.S. government still bans the drug outright.
A state judge last month sided against nine Fresno dispensaries that opened this year, upholding the zoning ordinance that forbids them and ordering them to close.
Smaller cities are also turning to zoning laws. In Claremont, a college town about 30 miles east of Los Angeles, Darrell Kruse sought to open a dispensary in mid-2006 but the zoning code did not permit them.
Kruse opened Claremont All-Natural Nutrition Aids Buyers Information Service (CANNABIS) anyway. Several months later, he was convicted of operating without a business license and fined. A state court rejected his appeal.
Greg Risling reported from Los Angeles. Associated Press writer Tracie Cone in Fresno contributed to this report.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.