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Outdated opinions on cannabis

Thanks to community member Arianna Gomez, and SJPC Counsel member Asha Kreiling for your contributions to this article!

On May 12th, the City of Sacramento’s Planning and Design Commission reviewed a business’ application to use a building at 1322 El Monte in the Arden-Del Paso Area (in City Council District 2 - represented by Councilmember Sean Loloee) for a delivery-only cannabis dispensary.

Several people called in to the Commission meeting to make public comment, including District 2 neighborhood association representatives and residents of nearby properties. Some community members saw potential benefits, like new jobs and economic activity along with improved security to reduce trespassing and illegal dumping on the unused property.

Most of the comments expressed concerns about the potential for increased car traffic, noise, break-ins and other impacts to long-term residents of the neighborhood who are predominantly low income black/people of color. In addition to concerns raised about proximity to existing residences (and residential zoned-areas), concerns were also raised about proximity to schools and a certified daycare facility. Commenters said there wasn’t sufficient analysis or consideration of these potential impacts in the City staff report, and notice about the project wasn’t provided to surrounding community members – only those residences within the minimum distance requiring notice.

Commissioners and public commenters dug into the issue of overconcentration of cannabis businesses in parts of the City with a mix of industrial and residential properties, especially in this Arden-Del Paso area in District 2. A definition of “overconcentration” of cannabis facilities has been established in the City’s codes specifically for District 6 (Councilmember Eric Guerra‘s district) and based on the conversation, it seems the Commission and City will benefit from collecting community members input to set defined limits for cannabis dispensaries in the City code for other parts of the City.

Phil Pluckebaum pictured below

Ultimately Commissioner Phil Pluckebaum made a motion to deny approval of the project. The motion to deny City staff’s recommendation to approve the project passed with support from the majority of the Planning and Design Commission.

Read on to learn more about the insights Arianna gleaned from watching the meeting!

Some highlights from further conversation with community member Arianna:

  • A lot of the community members calling in seemed to be steeped in the problematic “war on drugs” mentality

  • The Commission raised the issue that the store would in proximity to residential areas (it's important to note that the potential location was already an industrial area), and that would be problematic because it would “increase crime”

    • Callers were concerned about the “influence” a cannabis delivery storefront would have on their kids as they got older

    • All in all, there was quite a bit of testimony given in support of the incorrect assumption that the presence of cannabis stores increases crime

  • One of the main issues the Commission had was that there is already a high concentration of cannabis stores in that area - but why do we see this as a negative thing when there is also a high concentration of businesses like Target & Starbucks?

  • Imposing limits on how many stores you can have based on County and City regulations is often misguided and results in a lack of services available for in-need populations

    • For example: elderly folx who desperately need access to cannabis products that are accessible (e.g. delivery services) will not have their needs adequately met

    • Additionally: it is especially difficult for folx of color to gain access to the industry in general, so allowing for the establishment of cannabis businesses owned by BIPOC folx is crucial to ensuring equitable economic development

  • Businesses such as these contribute to positive economic development - this specific location would really help out access for communities of color

What's the next step ? Call or email in and make your voice heard!

But please note - if you call in to support the establishment of cannabis businesses, especially for those owned by folx of color, you need to make specific points & asks in your verbal/virtual comments & make sure you include an argument for why the presence of the business would be beneficial!

The City's meeting page is linked here!

You can find the contact info for all Councilmembers & the Mayor at this link

Follow this link if you're interested in watching the meeting discussed in this article.

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