At the meeting, the Council agreed 5 – 2 to move toward allowing medical marijuana dispensaries in the city, reports the Santa Monica Daily Press.
Our staff called and e-mailed the members of the City Council with six relative questions (below) regarding this hot topic.
- What is the overwhelming factor to allow medical marijuana dispensaries in Santa Monica?
- How will you decide who gets to have a license to open a dispensary?
- What benefits will Santa Monica receive if dispensaries are opened?
- What drawbacks are associated with medical marijuana dispensaries?
- For citizens who support the dispensaries – when do you expect the first dispensary to open?
- For citizens who oppose the dispensaries – how can they petition against it? How many signatures are needed? Where can the form be obtained from and submitted to?
Mayor Kevin McKeown responded to our e-mail requesting information. He supplied a link to the Minutes of the Meeting that was held on April 14th. Anyone wanting to open a doobie shop in Santa Monica would have to, he said, “apply for a conditional use permit.”
His busy schedule didn’t allow for further elaboration.
In search of more information, we asked the Mayor of a smaller city in liberal Washington State what he thought about the Mary Jane dilemma.
“It is really a problem for the children,” the unnamed Mayor said. “We don’t want to give them the wrong message about controlled substances.”
He was referring to the Federal Government’s classification of cannabis as a Schedule 1 drug. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) defines Schedule 1 drugs as, “drugs that have no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” The Federal Government believes Schedule 1 drugs are the “most dangerous drugs” and may cause “severe psychological or physical dependence.”
Schedule 1 drugs include: heroin, LSD, cannabis, ecstasy, meth, and peyote.
“Despite voters approving marijuana for recreational and medical use in Washington State, we don’t have any dispensaries in our city. The main reason being there isn’t a cohesive law between Federal and State. For example, even though some cities allow dispensaries, the Feds can shut them down at any time because marijuana is still considered an illegal drug. We have decided to wait and see what Washington will do,” he said.
Regarding the benefits his city would reap if they opened a dispensary, he said, “We expect to see a $30 – $40,000 increase in sales tax receipts.”
Santa Monica obviously has more people. The population is almost 93K according to some estimates. The population of the city in Washington State is around 18K. We can imagine that Santa Monica will generate more tax revenue, but is it all about money?
“What about the drawbacks?” I asked the Washington State Mayor.
“Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of raw data yet available. We don’t know what the long term effects will be. In our city, we are going to have hire additional Police Officers and spend money to educate children about drug use if a dispensary is allowed.”
Considering the 93,000 inhabitants of Santa Monica and the larger population of Los Angeles, how many Police Officers will Santa Monica have to hire to deal with what some say is a “marijuana epidemic.”
Moreover, how much tax money will it take to educate children about the current belief of marijuana use?
Many of you can recall the Twilight Series Concerts were like two years ago. Dusk settled over the sand in the form of a purple pot haze before the sun kissed the sea. Parents and tax payers didn’t want to take their children to the beach and enjoy the music at the Pier because there was so much smoking and drinking.
Mayor McKeown and the City Council have marked Mid-City Santa Monica as the location for the potential marijuana shops. Mid-City is defined by Centinela in the east, 5th street in the West, and Wilshire and Santa Monica Boulevards in the North and South. There is some overlap at 20th Street near Broadway and Colorado as well.
A quick look at Google maps show at least 25 schools or places that care for and teach children in the Mid City area where the pot shops could potentially be located.
The question becomes, “Why here? Why do we need pot shops in Santa Monica?” There are plenty of shops in West Los Angeles and in Venice where card carriers can purchase the Schedule 1 drug. Shouldn’t there be one city on the West Side that has decided to take the high road :-). After all, Santa Monica is supposed to be a city that promotes health and wellbeing.
If you have questions – you can contact the City Council at: council@smgov[dot]net.
Please feel free to comment on this article as your opinion matters.
Marijuana plant picture courtesy of www.freedigitalphotos.net