Amid a growing debate about the location of medical marijuana collectives in Richmond, the City Council plans to hold talks on expanding zones where dispensaries are allowed to operate.
The city granted permits to three medical marijuana collectives in 2010 and doubled that number in 2012.
But since then, some dispensary owners have struggled to open their doors in the face of community opposition.
Councilman Jael Myrick said “there is a lot of concern” about the number of liquor stores, smoke shops and methadone clinics in low-income African American and Latino neighborhoods.
“That’s not a good place to have a marijuana dispensary,” Myrick said in a telephone interview.
California became the first state to legalize cannabis for medicinal use in 1996.
The state allows local governments to decide how they want to implement the medical marijuana law. In Richmond, the city government permits medical marijuana shops, but has established rules collecting fees and governs where they can operate.
Collectives face several hurdles before opening, including community opposition at public meetings and zoning regulations that require the storefronts to be a certain distance from schools and homes.
The conflict is simple: The communities zoned for marijuana dispensaries are often the same communities with socioeconomic disadvantages, and residents take umbrage with the idea of a pot shop opening up in their neighborhood.
“When you’re looking out for sick people you want to find a location close to where they are,” said Richard Mitchell, Richmond’s Director of Planning and Building Services.
The Richmond Compassionate Care Collective is a victim of circumstance. It’s been searching for a home for nearly three years, despite already being permitted to operate. Following a public outcry last year, the collective was forced to scuttle a plan to move to a location near the Santa Fe neighborhood.
“It wasn’t one or two people who were upset, it was the entire …read more