Vallejo’s Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

By John Allen

On Monday, February 7, 2011, The Heritage Neighborhood, The St Vincent’s Hill Neighborhood and Fighting Back Partnership held a community forum to address a growing concern over the proliferation of Medical Marijuana Dispensaries (MMD). The Community Forum was held in the Joseph Room of the John F. Kennedy Library.

Of greatest concern to all three groups is the lack of regulation by city ordinance for this new business that many feel does not create the right image for a city that will be trying desperately to attract new business into our community as we emerge from bankruptcy.

In addition, many feel that allowing MMDs to establish a business in a residential area of our community is/should be inappropriate.

All other major cities in Solano County have banned MMDs from their communities, while the City of Vallejo currently has 14 showing on www.weedmaps.com. These fourteen are MMDs that have been licensed to conduct business in the city of Vallejo, but the city of Vallejo does not issue licenses for the selling of marijuana. There is speculation that there may be others conducting business without even benefit of this minimum piece of legal paper issued by the city.

The goal of the meeting was to raise awareness of the growing concern in the community, and to begin a dialogue between the community and the MMD operators that would hopefully help determine what an appropriate number of MMDs might be for a city this size, and where those MMDs should conduct business. It was also hoped that the meeting would lead both to a moratorium on MMDs and an ordinance that would establish some guidelines for how these  controversial businesses should be licensed, operated and regulated.

The unrestricted growth of MMDs in our community could have the very same effects that the proliferation of alcohol outlets had on our community as a Navy town catering to the drinking needs of the sailors stationed on Mare Island. For over twenty years Fighting Back Partnership has been working to address the impact that drugs and alcohol have had on this community. Many of our neighborhoods have been severely impacted by the negative aspects of having too many alcohol outlets. The establishment of an ordinance providing guidelines for the establishment and operation of an alcohol outlet, and the 1000-foot rule, provided much needed guidance and consistency, determining who would get licensed to serve alcohol and where it could be sold.

The Community Forum held on the 5th was at times heated, with an equal representation of MMDs and residents. The discussion began with a statement of Fighting Back Partnership’s position regarding drugs and alcohol in this community, and a suggestion that a citywide image promotion could possibly suffer from the fact that Vallejo is the only large city in this county to allow MMDs.

Overall, the consensus was that the meeting was a success. With Mayor Osby Davis in attendance, along with council members Erin Hannigan and Marti Brown, with Jo Ann Schivley joining later, one can only hope that this issue has  gotten the attention of our city leaders.

After 2 ½ hours the meeting ended with agreement on both sides that 14 dispensaries are too many for a city this size, and that regulation is critically needed to limit the number of MMDs and to establish guidelines for where, how, with what security measures the MMDs should be allowed to operate within the city limits of Vallejo.

The ball is now in the hands of our city leaders. We hope that they act responsibly and call for a moratorium on any additional MMDs until further action can be taken to regulate this new threat to our community. The lack of action on the part of our elected political leaders will result in more MMDs opening for business as “health food stores” or under some other guise. A lack of political will, now, will cause further problems later.

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