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November 20, 2009

Could Walnut Creek follow West Hollywood's medical marijuana example?

I can see how the arrest over a suspect in the pot-deal-related shooting death of 17-year-old Rylan Fuchs will reignite the local debate about possible crime increases associated with legalizing for medical or recreational uses. In fact, Mickey Martin, a medical marijuana advocate and a regular contributor to CrazyinSuburbia's message board, already commented on my post about Wednesday’s arrest of Berkeley man in the Danville teen’s death.

All I can say that pot being illegal didn’t keep Fuchs safe. Yes, a drug deal gone bad, as authorities painted it, came to safe, suburban Danville. And, who knows whether Danville’s likely decision Monday to extend its temporary ban on allowing medical marijuana dispensaries in that town will prevent more such crimes.

Perhaps Walnut Creek, and Danville, for that matter, can look to another community for guidance on how to sucessfully regulate such businesses.

West Hollywood--that 1.9-square-mile bastion of progressive politics, surrounded by the Los Angeles behemoth—has adopted what has been described in the Los Angeles Times as a strict ordinance on medical marijuana operations. The result?

A peaceful and even welcome co-existence between pot clubs and their neighbors.

In West Hollywood, city officials say, it's been more than two years since a resident has complained about a dispensary. Neighborhood watch leaders say their streets are safer because the dispensary guards are required to walk nearby blocks. School officials welcome dispensaries as neighbors. And the L.A. County Sheriff's Department, which patrols the city, says there have been no recent crimes at dispensaries and no calls from agitated neighbors.

How did this come about?

Confronted with its own dispensary explosion in 2005, [West Hollywood] imposed a moratorium on dispensaries, clamped interim rules on the ones that were open, passed a strict ordinance and capped the number allowed at four, all within two years.

The city also decided that dispensaries, to discourage robberies, must deposit each day's cash and meet regularly with city officials to discuss any problems, which so far have been few. Security guards have to patrol a two-block radius to prevent loitering and smoking, and guards must be unarmed.

One of West Hollywood’s dispensaries, Farmacy, is located within 500 feet of a private school. A school parents group initially complained about people smoking pot in a nearby parking lot, so Farmacy’s pharmacist, who has treated critically ill patients with marijuana for more than 15 years, started working with the parents’ group. She gave them tours of her store, hired security and banned smoking in the parking lot. The Farmacy, like the other dispensaries, belongs to the Chamber of Commerce and its manager serves on a community advisory board.

"We're just part of the community, a part of the neighborhood,” the pharmacist told the Los Angeles Times.

Walnut Creek’s new and controversial dispensary, C3 Collective, likewise belongs to the Chamber of Commerce, and the Oakland Boulevard business even received a big Chamber of Commerce welcome at its official grand opening, as I reported. C3 Collective’s CEO Brian Hyman has likewise offered business, city, and police leaders tours of his store and stated a desire for the dispensary to be part of the community.

We’ll see what happens with our own pot club.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Legalization would help reduce crime not increase it. Crime is always associated with illegal activities.

MickeyMartin said...

Walnut Creek would be wise to look to working models, such as West Hollywood, Sebastopol, Santa Rosa, and other areas that have done a good job regulating medical cannabis dispensing collectives. One only hopes that the C-3 struggle has not jaded the council into making knee jerk reactions in response to Mr. Hyman's handling of the situation. Time will tell.

Anonymous said...

Well hopefully it wont turn out like the violent crime ridden area of the lower haight in SF. There are always robberies and shootings around the pot clubs in this area. Look it up.

We are moving out of WC to Lamorinda. We left SF to get away from shit like this, and now WC is bringing urban problems to the burbs. A bad idea. If people want weed...they should just drive to the pot clubs in Oakland to get it.

We need more safe, clean places for parents to bring their preschool aged children during the day that isn't too expensive or outdoors. Why don't you write about a place to bring a toddler dwhere a parent can enjoy a cup of coffee and a bagel while their child plays safely indoors now that the weather is getting cold?

MickeyMartin said...

"Shit like this." Spoken like a true professional. You should try to quit looking down your nose at people and things you obviously know very little about. It is shameful.

MickeyMartin said...

Yeah. I am sure Lower Haight became crime ridden because of dispensing collectives. You mean the Filmore area right? Like the one from all of the early 90's thug rap music. That problem was there long before your judgmental self ever showed up. Look it up.