Closing Dispensaries that are Close to Children

“Marijuana dispensaries are full of cash and they’re full of marijuana, and everybody knows that,” says Northern California U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag in an excellent interview on the recent federal crackdown by Michael Montgomery of KQED. “They are at risk of being robbed, and many of them are robbed…. People in the community may be supportive of the dispensary being in their community until there’s a robbery and people come running out of the dispensary shooting guns….”

Haag argues that

Marijuana is illegal under federal law and I felt like I had to do something to respond to those members of my community that don’t support it and don’t support the impact they believe it’s having. The main complaint and the main theme expressed by the people that I’ve heard from is the impact on children, so with my limited resources I decided to focus on children.” 

Haag and her organization have threatening landlords of dispensaries with legal actions.  She and federal prosecutors have told landlords they would file a forfeiture action”against them if the dispensaries on their property didn’t close down.  Recently, The Berkeley Patient Group, one of the oldest and most respected dispensaries, has been on the receiving end of one of these notices.  Montgomery along with David Downs has also written about that situation and interviewed neighbors of the property, all those quoted think this business is an excellent neighbor.

“I tell people that the Berkeley Patients Group is the Brooks Brothers of medical marijuana dispensing,” said Polly Armstrong, co-CEO of the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce. She said the dispensary has donated thousands of dollars to the chamber and other civic groups over the years.

That sentiment is shared by Jill Ellis, executive director of the Center for Early Intervention on Deafness, one of the schools cited in the warning letter from federal prosecutors.

“They really have been caring, supportive neighbors, concerned neighbors, clearly very interested in our mission, our families,” Ellis said. “Their security provides a great asset and enhancement to our community. We’ve never had any incidents at all.”

“Save the Children” is a cry used for many legitimate purposes.  Shutting down dispensaries is not one of them.  The people of California voted for medical marijuana.  The federal government is using children to undermine their wishes. Arguing that businesses that have large amounts of money and/or medicine should be closed  especially if they are near schools is arguing that banks, gas stations, liquor stores and pharmacies should be shut down if they are near schools.  If we don’t close them down, why would we close down a respected cannabis dispensary?


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