Downtown dispensaries will happen eventually
A speaker at the recent City Council meeting discussing cannabis activity on First Street asked where we (the “pro-cannabis crowd”) were since the chamber was dominated by an organized assembly of anti-cannabis citizens and, unfortunately, youth that have been indoctrinated that cannabis is all bad no matter what and has no value to society. The long buried “gateway” theory was tossed out again and again, as were assurances of increased crime, reduced tourism and negative net economic performance. It was the same people associated in one way or another with the education community that have consistently displayed their incomplete knowledge of cannabis. It is ironic that the education community is the least educated about cannabis. As Mayor Patterson opined, there was nothing new presented. Vice Mayor Young also had to check speaker comments that asserted “everyone is against it” by reminding them that the Proposition 64 results in Benicia as well as the Town Hall survey demonstrated an appetite for regulated cannabis in Benicia. Councilman Campbell also had to challenge the assertion from a school district speaker that regulated access alone will increase youth consumption.
Those of us that benefit from the medicinal efficacy of cannabis or voted for regulated adult access don’t need to show up to promote or defend our views to decision makers. We won’t be there in large numbers on the 19th either. We are collectively at this point in excess of 10,000 strong voters and growing year to year. Every City Councilmember acknowledges the strength of voter support for regulated cannabis in our town, but there are still individual interpretations of the what the results of Proposition 64 in Benicia represent. Opponents of regulated cannabis activity in Benicia want another poll, more time and more studies. They repeatedly cite crime concerns or absent economic benefit studies. Look just seven miles away to Vallejo to have these concerns answered. Vallejo did have a dispensary robbery in 2012 before the present regulatory framework was in place, but now all 11 dispensaries in Vallejo are regulated, secure, safe and generate revenue to the city’s General Fund. Further, this pattern of safe and economically beneficial cannabis activity is exhibited in cities and towns all across America that have implemented regulatory policies. I can find no example of any jurisdiction regretting the implementation of policies to regulate what the majority of people want.
I am in agreement with the recent decision to pause consideration of cannabis activity on First Street. A demonstrated safe and economically lucrative cannabis storefront in another location will go a long way to eventually opening up First Street to cannabis activity. Here again, no city in America that co-mingles cannabis activity with tourism is finding the pairing disharmonious. California tourism and spending is expected to surge in 2018 based solely on legal cannabis.