ANC Votes on Medical Marijuana Dispensary

Corrected 5/23/2012 – ANC Vote Count

ANC 5 C took on the vote on CenterCity Care’s application to operate a medical dispensary at 1334 N. Capitol Street NW.

Mr. David Guard presented to the ANC the benefits of the dispensary to patients and described the proposed layout of the facilities. Mr. Guard also cited a UCLA study that showed the dispensaries lower crime in the areas surrounding the facility. There were a couple of relatives of patients that benefited from medical marijuana that were also present and spoke passionately in support of medical marijuana.

What Mr. Guard missed in his presentation, as stated by Commissioner Ransom is addressing the community concerns on how CenterCity Care would ensure the safety of its patients when patients leave the facility; citing the environment (crime and, loitering, social programs) around the proposed locations.

The opposition resolutions of the Bates Area Civic Association, Hanover Civic Association and North Capitol Main Street was also entered into the record. Geovani A. Bonilla challenged Mr. Guard’s citing of the UCLA study (with a copy of the study in hand), as the study says “We find that some security measures, such as security cameras, having  a door man outside, and having signs requiring an ID prescription card, taken by medical marijuana dispensary owners might be effective at reducing crime within the immediate vicinity of the dispensaries.” Might be, it was not conclusive.

Furthermore, Mr. Guard was not able to speak to other findings of the study, such as these sections:

Theoretical Approaches Relating Medical Marijuana Dispensaries to Crime

Page 4

Three theoretical approaches are relevant to the problems often thought to be associated

with MMDs: routine activities, availability, and niche theories. Routine activities theory

purports that three conditions must be met for crimes to occur: convergence of a suitable target (here, the dispensaries and their clients), a motivated offender, and the lack of suitable guardians (Cohen & Felson, 1979). The cash and carry nature of the business and the fact that they sell a substance (marijuana) which is illicit for non-medical users makes the dispensaries targets of crime (California Police Chief’s Association, 2009). Clients, who may be frail due to the debilitating medical conditions that lead them to use marijuana and carrying large amounts of cash to the dispensary, may also be targets for motivated offenders. Further, lack of security measures, marketing to population prone to participating in crime (i.e., young males) or being located in a socially disorganized neighborhoods characterized by high residential turnover and concentrated disadvantage may further put dispensaries at risk for crime as those areas are likely to lack place managers (i.e., suitable guardians). Recent studies suggest that offenders will travel some distance to participate in crime at such locations (Tita & Griffiths, 2005), and violence surges, particularly in relatively safe areas, will create adverse effects on businesses in the area (Greenbaum & Tita, 2004).

Page 20

Discussion. The preliminary findings show that some security measures, such as security cameras, having a door man outside, and having signs requiring an ID prescription card, taken by medical marijuana dispensary owners might be effective at reducing crime within the immediate vicinity of the dispensaries. However, dispensaries with locked metal doors had higher crimes within 500 feet radius. This finding may be more indicative of the location of the dispensary than crime related to the dispensary itself. In other words, dispensaries located in high crime areas may already have locked metal doors on the building from previous tenants to ward against crime in this high crime areas. These findings are limited by the small sample size and crosssectional nature of the data in one location. Despite this, they point to some interesting,  relatively inexpensive, measures that can be taken that might result in lower levels of crime within the immediate vicinity of medical marijuana dispensaries.

The ANC Vote – 12 ANCs present

6 ANCs opposed the application (voted to uphold majority of community opposition)

 2 (not 3) Bloomingdale ANCs voted to support the application to operate the dispensary at 1334 N. Capitol St NW

3 ANCs abstained from voting

The motion to oppose the application passed. The interesting vote was from our friends and Bloomingdale neighboring ANCs. Maybe the vote in support indicates that Bloomingdale may be a welcoming neighborhood to the dispensary.

6 thoughts on “ANC Votes on Medical Marijuana Dispensary

  1. This is a good report. I will note one error, however. Of the three Bloomingdale commissioners, only two voted to support the application, Commissioner Youngblood (5C03) and Commissioner Fournier (5C07). The newest member of the ANC, Commissioner Meuller (5C04) abstained. The third vote in support of the application was cast by Commissioner Ransom (5C12) whose Single Member District is located north of Catholic University.

  2. I’m a local resident who made it to the meeting last night. I didn’t speak up, but probably should have. After hearing the presentation I’m convinced the security involved is way more than adequate and think it would be fine for them to locate there. The CenterCity people are proposing more security than any other dispensary. Also, I’ve known Geovani to to be a blowhard on many issues over time. I also get the sense that he just doesn’t like medical marijuana and is a NIMBY thinker on the issue. I find it interesting that this article was written by him. That’s not fair reporting. Think about it. I know a bunch of people who could be helped by medical marijuana and I welcome it to my neighborhood.

    1. Mr. Smiley – I am not against Medical Marijuana. I have been working with terminally ill patients for over 22 years of my professional life. I understand the benefits medical marijuana offers. I also understand that medical marijuana may be appropriate for medically fragile patients, typically with advanced cancer, late stages of AIDS, MS and other neurological disorders. My personal objection is to the dispensary at this location. I am disappointed that medical marijuana (per DC ordinance) dispensaries cannot be located at a medical campus. For patient safety and privacy, it would be best for dispensaries to be located where patients get medical care. Regarding the article, I reported only on the ANC meeting. The study that the Mr. Guard cited and which I used for 80% of this posting, was written and published by the University of California Los Angelos (UCLA) not by me. I encourage you to see the full study at

      Click to access PWP-CCPR-2011-011.pdf

  3. I’m no NIMBY and I absolutely support the availability of medical marijuana to patients who need it. Unfortunately, the location of this proposed facility is next to an abandoned lot with no lighting and very limited parking. The levels of violent crime and crimes against property are already unacceptably high in this community. Introducing a business of this type raises the likelihood that police will be pressed to protect residents and dispensary customers from victimization. Increased police presence to cover the proposed dispensary would amount to public resources used to support a private concern.

    The import of the location proposed by Mr. Guard is almost cruel and cynical, in essence saying: “You people are already immersed in illegal drugs, violence and homeless people, so one more source of stress in your neighborhood is just your lot in life.” At the May 22, 2012 meeting, it was frustrating to have Mr. Guard’s paid advocates aggressively misdirect the conversation to accuse citizens of opposing the patients who need the treatment. What we need is a Small Area Plan, and earmarks for economic development assistance to retailers and other businesses that support children and families in our Ward.

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