Friday Question of the Day – Would You Object to a Medical Marijuana Dispensary in Your Neighborhood?

Photo by PoPville flickr user JosephLeonardo

There has been a lively debate this week on the neighborhood listservs talking about whether or not a Medical MariJuana Dispensary should open up in their neighborhoods. I’ll be honest – while I wouldn’t be thrilled if a methodone clinic opened up in my neighborhood, and perhaps it’s a bit hypocritical, I really have no problem with a medical marijuana dispensary. I don’t smoke marijuana (though of course I tried it in college) but I just don’t think it will attract a negative element. In fact my suspicion is that we won’t even realize it is there. Now, I’m gonna be honest again – I’m really just guessing and have no idea what impact (if any) it would have on my community. Thus this week’s FQotD.

So the Friday question of the day is not whether you support medical marijuana in general, rather, would you object to or support a dispensary in your neighborhood? Why?

78 Comment

  • gotryit

    I would support it in Pleasant Plains / Georgia Ave. I’ve learned enough about the regulations that I’m not worried about it. In fact, I think that the added security would be a benefit.

    Frankly, the only part about marijuana that I dislike is the illegal drug trade that surrounds it (gangs / guns).

    • I agree with Pleasant Plains/Georgia Ave. Good parking/Good Bus Line makes access easy.

      It’s a sure way to build the business’ offerings in the neighborhood

    • When I think about what DC/my neighborhood needs, a dispensary doesn’t make my list. However, where I’m from, they are very closely mointored and regulated, so I wouldn’t expect a negative impact on my neighborhood. I wouldn’t go out of my way to stop one from moving in. That’s why I’m in the “I don’t care” camp.

  • No objection except the chaos and news vans that will inevitable follow both the opening and after the DEA and Federal prosecutors shuts them down will be annoying.

  • gotryit

    I also think this is going to be very different than a methodone clinic just because marijuana doesn’t form a physical addiction like opiates. I’d much rather have a cancer patient going to the place on the corner than a heroin addict.

  • I already have a marijuana dispensary on my block, so adding a legal, regulated one shouldn’t change things too much!

  • I think I’d object, but only because a dispensary is probably at as much risk as a bank for being robbed. And banks in DC get robbed a lot — way more than is publicized. There’s enough potential gunplay around, thanks.

    Well, that and all the knuckleheads that are sure to be hanging out trying to buy weed from the legitimate customers.

    • Agree. Same reason I don’t want more liquor stores in my neighborhood. They become targets, even if their business is legitimate.

    • So by your logic you would oppose a bank opening in your neighborhood?

      • Not necessarily. Grownups are allowed to do things called cost/benefit analyses. A bank might benefit the neighborhood enough to warrant the risk. A dispensary, on the other hand, doesn’t add any value to the neighborhood itself — it fills a very specific citywide need.

        Besides, there’s still the knucklehead issue. And you’re kidding yourself if you don’t think that they’ll be there.

    • gotryit

      I think the police presence would tamp down on the knuckleheads.
      Anyone caught selling their medicinal would lose their right to get more. So at least they’d be more careful than to sell it right there.

      Also, I think the medicinal is pegged to sell higher than the price for illegal stuff, so hopefully that’ll keep them apart.

      • The pricing thing makes sense. But until DC has an enforceable loitering statute, I bet the police presence won’t help much with people hanging around. The lack of a market due to high prices might, though.

        • I read that the pricing for DC will actually be similar to many mental health facilities…you pay what you can based on a % of your income. The less you make the less you pay the more you make the more you pay. I may be wrong as this issues has dragged on for years and I read that probably 2-3 years ago.

          • Interesting. If true, that partially negates the disincentive for a secondary market. In fact, it might encourage one. Lower income = lower price = higher profit on resale.

      • If you think the police will actually fulfill their role in the regulation of marajuana dispensaries, you should also look into a great investment opportunity called the Key Bridge…..

  • We already have a ton of liquor stores on my neighborhood, I don’t see why a marijuana dispensary would bother me.

  • A DC marijuana dispensary won’t be like a california one. You must pay a DC police officer 24 hours a day to be there. You can only buy marijuana for glaucoma, cancer or aids.

    • You can get medical marijuana for many ailments. From, the approved conditions are listed as: HIV, AIDS, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, cancer, other conditions that are chronic, long-lasting, debilitating, or that interfere with the basic functions of life, serious medical conditions for which the use of medical marijuana is beneficial, patients undergoing treatments such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

  • I think this is a great QOTD.

    I wouldn’t actively oppose one, but I’m not sure if I would be concerned or not. I would certainly, however, much prefer one over a methadone clinic.

  • I’d support it only if they repeal the stupid bans on single beer sales. I miss my 40’s.

  • Yes, definitely a great question and so interesting that the feedback is currently so mixed – I don’t think I’ve seen any other PoP polls that were such an almost even split!

    I personally put myself in the not particularly concerned either way camp. I don’t think that it would draw in criminals any more than other drug stores (i.e. CVS and prescription medication abusers?), although the idea of it being a target for robbery is a little concerning, if there is weight to that trend among other comparable businesses.

    • Anecdotal evidence says yes, although I doubt there are reliable, easy-to-obtain stats on it yet. Apparently in some cities robberies are on the rise and in some customers themselves are being held up after leaving.

      I doubt very much that the dispensaries themselves will attract criminals as customers, but I could easily see the immediate surrounding blocks not being all that safe for clients.

  • janie4

    Maybe not on my block, (totally residential), but down on Georgia/New Hampshire near the CVS, sure. Do they take it right there, or can they take it home?

  • Does anyone know the actual stats on dispensary robberies in states which currently have medical marijuana? I didn’t know about the rule requiring a DC police office providing security. Do any other models account for that? Are the robbery stats lower in those states? Before people assume this will draw crime, it would be good to be presented with a few facts.

    • Anecdotal story from the Denver Post:

      Fort Collins police say marijuana arrests steady
      10/28/2011 – FORT COLLINS, Colo.—Fort Collins police say marijuana-related arrests have not increased over the past five years despite the rise of medical-marijuana dispensaries.

    • And on the other hand:

      Medical marijuana deal in Colorado Springs parking lot goes up in smoke
      10/28/2011 – A medical-marijuana provider conducting business in the parking lot of a Colorado Springs mall told police he was carjacked, but the robber didn’t take his car.

  • the truth is that this is going to be like a pharmacy.
    it’s really not all that big a deal.

    they should be throughout the city.

  • We take kindly them hippies with their tie-dyed shirts and Birkenstocks in my neighborhood.

  • I would be perfectly fine with it as long as they reform the careless actions of SOME and close at least 2 of the most troublesome liquor stores. If they did that, they could put 2 pot dispensaries in.

  • i would 100% support it so long as the law attached to it was that you can’t smoke it outside… mainly because IMO we dont want to give those who dont support it the ammo to ban it. also, i think we could do alot in regards to taxing the hell out of it and it would allow suppliers to make an ‘honest’ wage instead of having to black market deal it all the time.

    ps i have never partaken in it. but i would if it were legal. =)

  • I support dispensaries because I support the changing of US and DC drug policy. I don’t want to be a NIMBY about them.

    That said, the robbery issue is serious. Robbers won’t be holding up dispensaries; they’ll be looking for large-scale marijuana deliveries. It will be a challenge for the operators to safely deliver the requisite pounds of high-grade cannabis they’ll require. Also, robbers can assume that people walking out of a dispensary will have pot on them.

    The difference between pot and cash is that one is illegal. If you get robbed for your pot, even if you got it from a so-called dispensary, the police are going to be reluctant, or possibly unable, to help.

    So I’d say if one of these things opened up next door to me, I’d demand large expenditures on security.

  • I think this poll is interesting for what it says about the populace, not necessarily the liquor store. I suspect that a poll on almost any issue facing DC residents would be similarly distributed: 75% positive to ambivalent and 25% opposed. It’s the 25% that is really vocal though.

    Last time we discussed it I proposed that Georgia avenue is a great place for a medical shop, as long as they open 9 to 5 and have an armed security guard — just like bank of America.

  • There was a medical marijuana dispensary right on my block when I lived in Michigan. It was a residential area with lots of families, but no one had problems with it. The owners were a friendly laid back couple who decorated the place with Bob Marley posters. The costumers I saw in the parking lot really did look quite sick and unhealthy… it was nice to know they were able to get meds that helped them feel better. Granted a small town in Michigan is not the same as inner city DC, but I still wouldn’t object to one in my neighborhood.

  • This is a great question, PoP. I would support one being in my neighborhood as I am a firm believer in the use of medicinal marijuana. Having seen a number of close friends and family suffer from cancer, I fully support the rights of those suffering from chronic pain as a result of cancer, aids, glaucoma, etc, to have safe and regulated access to medicinal marijuana. I do worry about the safety of patients in the surrounding areas. I think an increased police presence in the immediate vicinity is going to be necessary. What happens a block or two away, however, is of great concern to me.
    I too would be worried if a methadone clinic were to open up in my hood. Junkies and medically-approved stoners are VERY different, both in how their drug use effects their judgement and in how the conduct themselves in day to day society.

  • im interested in what makes people think that there would be an uptick in robbery for weed? (serious question, no offense intended at all)

    there are dozens of pharmacies all over dc that sell all sorts of “nice drugs” that you dont see people robbing. i dont know a whole lot of drug cost but i bet you a nice stack of dilaudid or vicodin would cost more on the street than plain old pot.

    • There is no way that you can honestly be unable to differentiate the risk of leaving a pot dispensary and a pharmacy. The majority of prescriptions filled at pharmacies are for drugs that have little to no street value. 100% of the prescriptions filled at a marijuana store will be for… guess what? marijuana.

      For this reason, I think dispensaries should be integrated with existing pharmacies.

      • so you are telling me that a dilaudid has no street value? have you ever been on it? why do you think junkies hit up ER’s all the time and claim of such “bad pain” with “high resistance” to other pain meds?

        • You don’t have to have been on it. We’ve seen Drugstore Cowboy, right? We all know that certain painkillers have street value.

          However, you cite one drug when Anon clearly states “the majority of prescriptions…” That’s probably true. When someone leaves with a CVS bag a potential mugger doesn’t know if it’s dilaudid or amoxicillin. Odds are that the bag contains something with absolutely no resale value. A bag from the marijuana dispensary, on the other hand…

      • also +1 on existing pharmacy comment. stick it in with the other pain meds! would be great to see it.

      • I agree with you that regular pharmacies should carry it to integrate it better and simplify things.

        But I think alcohol is just as if not more addictive than pot. Why aren’t people camping outside of liquor stores to rob someone for their liquor?

        The same reason people won’t be trying to rob cancer patients for $50 worth of weed because its not worth it. You can already get weed from almost any corner around GA Ave. DC in general has high rates of robbery so of course some will be robbed, but I don’t think marijuana dispensaries will become the plot of the next Oceans Eleven. Just similar to people leaving the Bank, Best Buy etc…

        • “Why aren’t people camping outside of liquor stores to rob someone for their liquor?”

          I’d venture a guess someone this hypothetical pot mugger isn’t a user but a dealer. Unless that dealer has an illegal liquor business robbing a guy for a bottle of vodka isn’t worth it. If, however, that dealer already has access to a client base for pot, not to mention weapons, then it might be a chance worth taking for some.

          Really, we’re all just speculating, but I think it’s a reasonable speculation to say that robberies of some dispensary clients will happen, and will probably happen with greater per capita frequency than customers of Best Buy.

        • People rob people more often when they know that the potential victim has a high value item. Apple product premiers, ATM customers, etc. This isnt rocket science. If you go into a dispensary, youre either leaving empty handed or you got something with a relatively high value. It makes you a target.

          We spend so much time on this site talking about USED ipods, but yet, no one understands the logic of the pot robbery argument. mind blowing.

  • Debate over the issue has been contentious. RAND recently did the extremely rare move of retracting one of its reports on this topic. The report stated that the dispensaries in LA usually have guards and surveillance cameras and may actually reduce crime in their neighborhoods.,0,2844501.story

    • clevelanddave

      Yea but they retracted it because they did not consider the crime reports of the LAPD. Once they do they will probably show that crime increases around places where pot is sold. No way- would you want to be high all the time? That is what it would probably be like around a dispensary. Pot can be addictive, it is illegal (yes, federal law still trumps), and dangerous.

  • I would object to a dispensary because I object to the medical marijuana laws. In general and in DC in particular, I think they are just a subterfuge for legalizing marijuana, riding on the backs of the ealtively few actually sick people who will legitimaely benefit. I expect the administration of this system to be a complete joke, DC-government-style. I expect that medical patients in actual need will make up a very small percentage of the people making use of it. Just legalize marijuana and be done with all these shenanigans – tax it and get the money in the DC Treasury.

    • There is plenty of legitimate benefit to me *ahem* people smoking marijuana in the privacy of their own homes!

      For one, it makes fruit loops with coconut milk that much more magically delicious…

    • What . . . you haven’t heard about the glaucoma epidemic in California among 14-18 year olds? It’s tragic

  • I am ambivalent– any concern I have is not for the people going in to pay for medical marijuana, my concern is that the place might get robbed by people without prescriptions who just want a bunch of free weed.

    • I’m sorry but this concern is totally invalid. Muggers are after anything of value, and the idea that marijuana is somehow so special that it will breed its own unique brand of mugging is completely unsupported by the evidence from other cities and basic common sense. By that logic, any store that sells anything of value should be kept out of transitional neighborhoods because someone might rob its customers. Certainly the last thing we should allow in Pleasant Plains are banks! They are full of money! The horror!

      Any thug who wants to get some weed will have no problem getting it. If they want to steal some from people who have just bought it, you think they don’t know where people are buying weed illegally now? Seriously?

  • I am for marijuana dispensaries in my “backyard” or where ever they decide to put them. If there is a police officer on security at all times I don’t foresee robbery being any more of an issue than at a bank. If customers getting profiled and mugged on their way out, perhaps limit the amount available for pickup at a time. Or a drive through.

    Marijuana isn’t terribly expensive or hard to come by as prescription meds.

  • And I’m sure these patients would never deal their medically dispensed pot on the way home from the local CVS, would they? What a joke…

  • ‘ere.

  • my non-profit will be more than happy to pick up any expired or outdated marijuana for redistribution to countries unable to afford it.

  • I agree with above commentatator about the innevitable media focus. I have few problem with dispensaries, and suspect they’d be so tightly regulated as to have minimal negative impact on surrounding community. I can just see an annoying stream of tv trucks using the Capitol Dome as a backdrop for reporting on all things legalization

  • I’d have to say I wouldn’t want the *first* dispensary in the city in my neighborhood, and would actively oppose that. Since we don’t have any existing, we don’t know how easy these prescriptions are going to be to get. In some parts of California, you actually have to have a real illness to get one. In Berkeley, you can get one for “depression”. In other words, anyone who wants one who can afford an office visit can get one just by saying “I’m sad all the time” – now please note this isn’t to dismiss genuine depression or to say marijuana can’t be legitimately used to get one (I’m not a doc so I don’t know), but to say that it’s a common fake illness there. If that’s the case here as well, then hell no I don’t want one near me – there’s enough people coming into my neighborhood for drugs as it is. If it turns out it’s just little old ladies with glaucoma and people with AIDS, then sure, I wouldn’t care.

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