The Green Mile: A perspective from deep in LA’s busiest pot district on the weed ban vote


 
The Los Angeles City Council voted 14-0 yesterday to ban pot dispensaries in the city limits. The ban would force approximate 750 storefront pot shops to shut down immediately. Any dispensaries that fail to comply voluntarily will face legal action from the city.

From The Los Angeles Times:

Medical marijuana activists who had packed the council chambers jeered when the vote came down. More than a dozen Los Angeles Police Department officers were called in to quell them.

Under the ban, medical patients and their caregivers will be able to grow and share the drug in small groups of three people or less.

But the activists say most patients don’t have the time or skills to cultivate marijuana. One dispensary owner told the council that it would cost patients a minimum of $5,000 to grow marijuana at home.

In a seemingly contradictory move, the council also voted to instruct city staff to draw up an ordinance that would allow a group of about 170 dispensaries that registered with the city several years ago to remain open. Councilman Jose Huizar, who voted against that motion, said it might give the public “false hope” that the ban wound not be enforced.

He said the ban would be enforced, especially against problem dispensaries that have drawn complaints from neighbors. “Relief is on its way,” he said.

Fuck you, Jose Huizar! Relief from what? Who gets relieved?

And to the rest of the clowns on the City Council, have fun shutting 750 businesses that pay some of the best service industry wages in Los Angeles (many pot shops are unionized and offer healthcare benefits to employees). I can’t think of a STUPIDER use of the LAPD than firing people and forcing law abiding businesses to close. What a waste of taxpayer resources this is.

I’m furious about this vote and as a city resident, I’d like to add my voice to the chorus of condemnation of the City Council’s actions.

I live in an area of the city near the so dubbed “Green Mile,” a stretch known for its numerous, highly visible cannabis dispensaries. Within walking distance, there are approximately twelve dispensaries. Take a slightly longer walk and that number rises at least threefold.

By contrast, there are but two Starbucks, one McDonald’s, One Burger King, one KFC, one Jack in a Box, two Subways, two 7-Eleven stores and no Carl Jrs. It goes without saying that these are minimum wage jobs, whereas the average wage at a pot dispensary is $20 per hour.

In five years of living in this part of Los Angeles, I’ve seen every single one of these places pop up and what changes the neighborhood has gone through in that same period of time. Not only that, I have PERSONALLY visited almost all of them.

Here’s what I’ve noticed:

Since the recession, there have been very, very few new retail businesses that have opened along the “Green Mile” other than pot dispensaries. A few things, but not many. In every case, they are inhabiting real estate that was not being used, and that had not been used in some time. A lot of these previously empty buildings got much needed paint jobs, let’s just say, and many long empty buildings were rehabilitated by the dispensary owners.

I have seen no appreciable rise or fall in the neighborhood crime rate and I am sure the local police would probably agree. There is no discernible difference. No change. None.

From everything that I HAVE SEEN, these places all seem to be run by law-abiding, friendly, intelligent people. They all seem to be doing okay financially, even though there are so many of them (you’d think the density of pot shops would be a drag on business, but even with the shops that are two to a block this doesn’t seem to be the case. I guess people in LA must like pot, huh?).

I’ve never heard one neighbor complain about the pot dispensaries.

I have seen many of the people living in the neighborhood going in and out of the various dispensaries. My neighbors on either side of me go to the same place I go to.

Only one of the dispensaries operating along the “Green Mile” seems in any way shady to me, but to be honest, I’ve never actually seen anything even remotely shady (nothing) in the three years the place has been open. Maybe I just steer clear of it because I think they sell schwaggy weed!

Who’s actually complaining to Jose Huizar or is he hallucinating these complaints? What’s the point of this citywide ban? I live in the heart of one of the areas most dense with pot dispensaries and I’d have to rate their existence as “positive” for the neighborhood and in no way negative.

It’s worth noting that last October when President Obama made a campaign stop at the popular soul food restaurant, Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles, that he was within a few blocks, if that, of about six HARD TO MISS medical marijuana dispensaries. I’m talking about places with green glowing neon pot-leaf signs. Obviously the Secret Service checked out the area and the entire route the President’s bus would take down Pico Blvd. beforehand and YET THEY HAD NO PROBLEM WITH THIS.

So what up, Jose Huizar?

Councilman Huizar and his pal City Attorney Carmen Trutanich have had bugs up their asses for a long time about the cannabis dispensaries, but I doubt that many other Los Angelenos feel the same way as they do. The train left the station on this matter back in 2007.

No one cares but the politicians. The issue has been settled by the free market, so to speak. The local range of opinion, in my experience, ranges from positive to benignly not giving a shit. My neighbors, from what I can tell from living here for five years, look at it variously from the POV of being pot users themselves, non-pot users who don’t give a damn what other people do, people who would rather have ten more pot dispensaries than one additional liquor store with pan-handling winos in the parking lot, people who never thought of it one way or the other, etc, etc. I’ve not seen one business harmed by their proximity to a medical marijuana dispensary, nor have I heard a peep from any local business owners about any perceived negative effect the pot shops have had on them, because there haven’t been any negative effects.

I live here and I mean to tell you, nothing has changed for the worse and arguably, they have changed for the better. More people are employed, more taxes are paid, more landlords get paid, more landlords pay taxes on what they got paid by their new tenants, the buildings get tidied up, and so forth.

Jose Huizar probably thinks he’s going to be mayor one day for pulling this off. Carmen Trutanich, clearly, sees himself one day as the California State Attorney General, and getting the law enforcement and prison unions on your side is necessary to make a statewide run like that. Carmen… Jose… I gotta tell you two knuckleheads something: I would never vote for you. You’d have to be running against, I don’t know, Sarah Palin, for me to ever even consider voting for you.

In fact, I wouldn’t vote for ANY of these sitting city council members (Bill Rosenthal was on vacation and didn’t vote) at least in a primary, either. I’m looking at YOU, Eric Garcetti. What the fuck is wrong with you? Herb Wesson, I will NOT be voting for you again. You do not represent MY interests with a vote like yours.

Yesterday’s Los Angeles City Council 14-0 vote against the pot dispensaries was predictable, but annoying, even if you suspect, as I do that they won’t actually do anything and that the ban will just be ignored by most of the dispensaries as it is appealed.

Does anyone on the city council actually think that the hundreds of thousands of pot heads living in the Los Angeles metro area are just going to stop smoking weed if the city closes the dispensaries down?

All this ban is going to do is see a few thousand people put out of some of the only decent paying jobs being created in the city at a time of super high unemployment, and the marijuana trade, previously taxable, going underground again, but much more openly than it was done in the past. The whole thing is just stupid and a waste of time and money.

Posted by Richard Metzger

 

 

comments powered by Disqus