Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Will Stymie Economic Growth

By Wulf Bieschke

There is no easy way to resolve the conflicts between medical needs and illegal activity, or to avoid the fact that we are dealing with an illegal drug. While some members of the community may support medical marijuana, individual neighborhoods do not want the facility in their backyards.

That being said, When the county counsel drafts this new ordinance, the San Lorenzo Village Homes Association has drafted some minimum standards for these cooperatives, that we strongly suggest be included into this new ordinance.

  1. Hours of operation are to be 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  2. No sale of marijuana were to take place outside the building
  3. Security should be provided by a member of the Alameda County Sheriffs Department (paid for by the clinic). This would help prevent or eliminate crimes at the facility and perhaps armed robbery of individuals in the immediate neighborhood
  4. Location should be in proximity to medical facilities, pharmacies, or related services.
  5. They must not be located in any facilities near a school or in any area where children are likely to travel, recreate, or otherwise spend any significant time.
  6. These cooperative should in no way be allowed to operate in redevelopment areas, where considerable tax dollars, county staff and consultant time have been invested.
  7. Members of a Cooperative or collaborative shall not be allowed to grow marijuana in residential neighborhoods.
  8. The Alameda County Sheriffs Department shall lead agency in the enforcement of this ordinance.

I especially would like to make the case for standard number six.

These cooperative should in no way be allowed to operate in commercial corridors and industrial areas, where considerable redevelopment tax dollars, county staff and consultant time have been invested.

For many years San Lorenzo has been waiting for the redevelopment of the downtown area. Past and current county board members along with other volunteers from the community have spent countless hours in meetings working with highly compensated consultants and county staff, shaping and forming specific and economic plans. Out of these meetings we were able to established our downtown as a redevelopment area and have set aside millions of our tax dollars for a new streetscape to entice businesses to come to San Lorenzo. The county has also hired a full time person to help in economic development and to help search for viable businesses.

In fact according to county budget records, since its inception in 2001 The Eden Redevelopment Project (San Lorenzo Sub Area) has spent $2,494,816.00 in administration costs, $464,990.00 in ERAF transfers to the state $130,507.00 in debt servicing and $542,481.00 in bond debt, and yet the only ones that have seen a return on all this hard work has been the county and state and we still have an empty lot where Mervyn’s once stood.

Over the years, business brokers and a developer have told us that certain businesses would not consider San Lorenzo as a place of doing business. Our area does not meet a certain criteria. Traffic flow and freeway access where just a few. And now because of the stigma of pot and the ancillary crime associated with these dispensaries and the threat of police raids, only gives these businesses another reason not to come to San Lorenzo.

I urge that the supervisors take this into consideration when giving direction to county counsel.
Yes it has been said that these cooperatives would bring in large amounts of tax revenue. And we all know that those revenues would go into the general fund and be used for services through out the county. But our communities would still use a part of our property tax dollars to entice businesses that won’t come. And we would still have to deal with the problems associated with these cooperatives. So what is the answer?

If one accepts the argument that marijuana is a beneficial pharmaceutical, it is logical that the cooperatives might seek a location near where patients with serious illnesses are likely to be; if medical marijuana were legal, it would have additional regulations much like any other pharmacy.

So I suggest, that part of the Fairmont Medical Facility be sold to these cooperatives, If marijuana is truly of medical benefit then it should be sold in a medical environment overseen by County Health and enforced by the Alameda County Sheriffs Department.

Wulf Bieschke is President of the San Lorenzo Village Homes Association and long-time resident of San Lorenzo.

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Categories: medical marijuana, Opinion, Wulf Bieschke

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