San Leandro Drawing Interest of Local Cannabis Club

By Steven Tavares

An Oakland medical marijuana dispensary is showing interest in expanding its operations in San Leandro, The Citizen has learned, although the city has a moratorium on the clubs in place since 2005.

According to San Leandro Mayor Tony Santos, a dispensary currently operating in Oakland is interested in making an investment in upwards of $10 million to place a club possibly in the industrial area of Williams Street. Santos would not disclose the dispensary’s name.

Advocates of medical marijuana dispensaries have recently attempted to replicate the success of thriving clubs in Oakland to no avail in neighboring cities. In the past few months, the councils of Hayward and Alameda provided opposition to the clubs in their cities. The possible move to San Leandro almost appeared inevitable.

The impetus for San Leandro’s 2005 moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries was borne out of uncertainty stemming from Alameda County’s discussion over clubs within its unincorporated areas. At the time, there were no dispensaries in San Leandro. The county eventually limited its ordinance to three clubs. Two currently exist on Lewelling and Mission Boulevards.

The emerging issue of legal marijuana on the state’s November ballot is bound to become a hot button issue along with any possible discourse regarding the substance at the city level.

Santos says he does not have a stated position on medical marijuana but recognized its helps some chronically ill patients relieve their pain. Councilwoman Joyce Starosciak, one of Santos’ opponents this fall, told The Citizen she supports the council’s current moratorium.

Stephen Cassidy says the dispensaries can attract crime, something the city’s diminished law enforcement staff cannot currently handle. “Medical marijuana dispensaries operate in Oakland and other nearby areas of Alameda County that San Leandro residents with medical conditions use,” said Cassidy. “However, the dispensaries can also serve as a magnet for crime. Tony Santos and Joyce Starosciak have cut our police force by 10 percent in the last two years. We should not risk straining our understaffed police force by ending San Leandro’s moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries.”