Protect public safety, vote no on Nipomo pot shop
November 2, 2015
OPINION By DICK WRIGHT
On Nov. 3, the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors will consider a minor use permit (MUP) application to establish a medical marijuana dispensary at 2122 Hutton Road in Nipomo. Many residents in Nipomo have stated their opposition to this proposal. Several law enforcement officials, including Sheriff Parkinson are scheduled to voice their concerns at the board of supervisors.
The applicant company, Ethnobotanica, is headquartered in Santa Cruz County and along with 30 other companies currently “home delivers” medical marijuana in San Luis Obispo County. Thus, medical marijuana is readily available for authorized patients. The applicant, however, desires to open a retail outlet to expand operations.
The applicant previously presented the MUP application to the South County Advisory Council (SCAC) and after a discussion, with input from the audience, the SCAC voted 8-2 to recommend denial of the application to the SLO County Board of Supervisors.
The most important aspect of this recommended denial of the application was the concern for public safety.
The proposed location is near the intersection of Highways 166 and 101, just north of the Santa Barbara County line. Santa Barbara County has prohibited medical marijuana dispensaries in their county and if this application is approved in SLO County, this retail outlet would be the only dispensary on the Central Coast. It would certainly attract the widespread interest of legitimate users as well as the criminal element. Sheriff Brown of Santa Barbara County has publicly stated that this dispensary is a “bad idea” and he opposes the dispensary.
Medical marijuana dispensaries have been the target of robberies and burglaries at numerous locations within California. In a number of instances, violence has occurred. For example, in California, just this year:
In San Bernardino, an armed security guard at a medical marijuana dispensary was shot and killed during a robbery.
In Upland, a police SWAT unit arrested four armed suspects following a dispensary robbery in which the suspects pistol-whipped an employee and shot another in the leg.
In Bakersfield, a defendant who shot and killed two individuals during a robbery at a dispensary there has just pled guilty to murder.
In San Diego, trial has been ordered for two defendants for a robbery and shootout at a dispensary which left an accomplice dead and a guard wounded.
In Los Angeles, three robbers hit a mid-Wilshire dispensary and shot an employee in the leg.
The target for these criminal acts is not only the marijuana, but the large amount of cash generated by the dispensaries. These are just examples of recent violent crimes, but numerous other dispensary related crimes have occurred such as burglaries, money laundering, the resale of medical marijuana to juveniles and organized crime involvement in the supply of medical marijuana to dispensaries.
The SLO County Sheriff’s Department’s representative publicly stated that due to the remote location of the proposed dispensary the estimated response time of deputies to a crime at that location would be from 10 to 30 minutes. Obviously, this delay of emergency response puts the safety of the public in jeopardy.
It should be noted that on May 5, 2013, The California Supreme Court ruled that cities and counties had the authority to ban Medical Marijuana Dispensaries (City of Riverside v. Inland Empire Patients’ Health Center, Inc. 2013 Cal Lexis 4033).
A retail medical marijuana dispensary in the proposed location is a serious and unnecessary exposure to our citizens who may have the misfortune of being caught up as an innocent bystander during a critical incident stemming from the dispensary.
If you are concerned about this public safety threat to the community you are urged to attend the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors meeting to express your opinion.
Dick Wright has lived in Nipomo for 12 years. He is the public safety representative for the South County Advisory Council. For 40 years, he worked in law enforcement.