We should like to respond to the article “Zoning issues: Child care, marijuana, residential density” published on April 10. This article mentions the Zoning Ordinance Update rules for medical marijuana dispensaries. Santa Monicans for Safe Access (SAMOSA) would like to point out a few important things, as follows:

The article says “Despite the plethora of options in the surrounding municipalities … .” In fact, there is not a plethora of legal dispensaries in surrounding areas. Of the total 134 dispensaries Los Angeles allowed a couple of years ago, less than 50 of these legal dispensaries remain. Plus, only a few of them are on the Westside. Any other dispensary is illegal. Surely, it is unsafe and unwise to encourage patients to go to illegal dispensaries. Moreover, if there is a plethora of any type of business outside of Santa Monica, it is alcohol stores and drug stores. And yet, our reasonable and compassionate City officials do not ban those types of stores from Santa Monica. Nor are residents required to drive outside the City to visit these stores.

This article also states that “The Police Department and the city officials had opposed that inclusion [of dispensaries], noting that residents could simply order delivery …. .” However, in an SMDP article published last February, the SMDP confirmed that only one of the four delivery services cited at that time by City Staff was legal. Today, there are no — as in none — legal delivery services anywhere in L.A. Worse, last year in other articles, City Staff acknowledged that any delivery service operating in Santa Monica would have to have a Santa Monica business license. And yet, City Staff confirmed that none had been issued. SAMOSA believes that it is very unsafe to invite illegal delivery services into one’s home. About the police, Chief Seabrooks said in her testimony to the Planning Commission that if the City asked her, the Police would have no problem policing medical marijuana dispensaries — just as they do for any other business.

Finally, the article says “most” of the Planning Commissioners supported allowing dispensaries. In fact, five out of the six then-present Commissioners supported allowing dispensaries. The baseless myth regurgitated in the article that dispensaries lead to more crime has been resoundingly shown to be a shameful scare tactic reminiscent of “Reefer Madness.” Indeed, UCLA studied this very issue (“Exploring the Ecological Association Between Crime and MMD” [Medical Marijuana Dispensaries]). UCLA found the opposite to be true — crime decreases in neighborhoods where dispensaries operate. Legal dispensaries have robust security plans, which decrease crime in their surrounding areas.

The ordinance permits only two dispensaries within a very limited and well-thought-out zone. They are barred from being close to schools, parks and other sensitive uses. The ordinance is fair, reasonable and compassionate. The near unanimity of Commissioners who supported this ordinance mirrors the 90 percent or more (according to a “field poll”) of Santa Monicans who desire legal, local and safe access to medical marijuana.

Bill Leahy
Santa Monicans for Safe Access

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