Update: On Sept. 20th, the City Council voted 6-0 (with Benny Lee abstaining) to approve a third marijuana dispensary in San Leandro.
Short months after approving licensing a second marijuana dispensary in San Leandro, the City Council is considering adding a third license: one that would be granted directly to Blüm, a dispensary chain that already has three locations. Blüm scored highest in the last application process, but the dispensary license was granted to Davis Street, likely because of the close relationship between City Council members and the would-be operators of such facility. Faced with the prospect of a lawsuit by Blüm, the City is considering just creating a third license and granting it to them.
But is it a good idea to have three marijuana dispensaries in San Leandro? I was a very big proponent of having multiple licenses for marijuana dispensaries from the start. I lobbied the City Council and spoke at numerous community meetings to that effect. But with two dispensaries in the works within San Leandro, and the prospect of more dispensaries opening in other areas, I think it may be wise to wait. The regulatory scheme for operating dispensaries is both untested and strict, and the zoning restriction for these facilities place them outside residential areas, in locations badly served by public transportation. It may be wiser to let these dispensaries open, analyze how they work and what accessability problems patients encounter, and then perhaps modifying the regulatory and zoning scheme before granting further licenses. By then, recreational marijuana may be legal in California, which might create new challenges that will also require adjustment of our regulations.
In any case, the San Leandro City Council has a history of making careless policy changes to respond to litigation, brought up by careless actions by the Council, compounding mistakes and causing needless trouble. Let’s hope they don’t follow on their own footsteps.