The Feb. 1 Letter to the Editor “Marijuana Dispensaries that are Fair to Patients, Safe for Children” supporting some of the PTSA’s proposals relative to implementing dispensaries in Santa Monica is strikingly at odds with pronouncements by the California Medical Association (CMA) made only one day after that Letter was written. The CMA endorsed initiatives for increased safe access stating “… [the CMA’s] physician members believe that the most effective way to protect the public health is to tightly control, track and regulate marijuana … and educate the public on its health impacts – not through ineffective prohibition.” The PTSA’s proposals amount to a de facto prohibition, which is neither fair to patients nor protects children.

A further increase in the types of and minimum distance from sensitive uses would make it impossible for any dispensary to locate in the City. The Planning Department said at last June’s Council hearing about this that further limiting the already tight permissible area would make it unlikely that any permissible location would exist at all. And, as mentioned below, any dispensary is subject to the Conditional Use Permit (CUP) process anyway.

Banning any non-resident of Santa Monica “to prevent abuse by tourists” lacks an understanding that under California law only a resident of the State of California can possess a doctor’s recommendation for medical marijuana. So, no “tourist” could possibly “abuse” a dispensary. Denying care to an otherwise qualified patient just because they do not have the “right” ZIP Code seems heartless.

By its very nature, a CUP requires a holding by the Planning Commission that the operation is appropriate for its neighborhood and would not adversely impact the community. A CUP process is the most rigorous, publicly involved vetting process that the City has. On the other hand, continuing threats to our children arise from illegal dispensaries and street dealers; as often reported-on in this newspaper. In fact, none of the PTSA’s anxieties have been realized by innumerable cities with dispensaries (e.g., Malibu, West Hollywood, Palm Springs). And yet, none of those cities have the sorts of restrictions suggested in the Feb. 1 Letter.

The proposals in the Feb. 1 letter are harmful to patients, but provide no added protection for our children. Yes, we are resident-patients with school-age children too!

Bill Leahy,

Spokesperson Santa Monicans for Safe Access