Pubdate: Sun, 17 May 2015
Source: Press-Enterprise (Riverside, CA)
Copyright: 2015 The Press-Enterprise Company
Author: Alicia Robinson



Some Aren't Concerned About Measure A, Which Would Allow 10 
Dispensaries; Others Fear More Crime, Drugs Getting to Kids

Riverside resident Abraham Bueno isn't crazy about the idea that a 
medical marijuana dispensary could open on the other side of a fence 
across the street from his home.

Nor is Emery Osgood enthused about possibly having a dispensary close 
to his solar pool heating company in an industrial park off Columbia 
Avenue. But Rob Arbagey isn't worried about such a facility moving in 
near his beer- and wine-making supply shop, also off Columbia.

The three men have different opinions but have one thing in common: 
they work in or live near Riverside's commercial and industrial 
zones, where medical marijuana dispensaries would be allowed if 
Measure A passes June 2.

It's unclear how people who could be affected by the measure might 
influence the election, because some, like Bueno and Osgood, aren't 
registered to vote in the city.

Measure A ballots have been mailed to voters, and as of Friday, May 
15, about 7.5 percent of the 116,626 ballots had been returned, the 
Riverside County Registrar of Voters said.

In recent years, cities across the Inland area have vigorously 
opposed medical marijuana dispensaries, with Riverside leading the 
way. Officials in the county's largest city have closed more than 80 
dispensaries and tried but failed to block Measure A from the ballot 
by suing the registrar.

The initiative would repeal the city's ban on medical marijuana 
dispensaries and allow up to 10 facilities to open in Riverside's 
commercial and industrial zones. They would have to be at least 1,000 
feet from schools and other dispensaries, and would need security 
guards and cameras.

Dispensary operators could not have a felony conviction within the 
past 10 years, and customers would be required to show an ID and a 
doctor's recommendation for medical marijuana. The measure also would 
lift a city ban on mobile dispensaries.


The Hunter Industrial Park and Northside neighborhoods on Riverside's 
north end appear to have the largest concentration of properties with 
zoning that would allow dispensaries, according to a map the city 
created for its Measure A public education campaign.

In a small sampling of residents and businesspeople in those 
neighborhoods, Arbagey, 32, showroom manager at More Beer More Wine, 
was a rare voice that didn't oppose the initiative.

In recent years, dozens of dispensaries have opened despite the ban. 
Many were later closed by the city, such as one Arbagey said was near 
his Main Street home.

"We've never had an issue with them. This would kind of be an ideal 
location for them because we're industrial and we're kind of out of 
the way," he said of the business park in the shadow of a railroad overpass.

"I don't really see any reason to be against it."

Others in the area do.

In the same business park, employees at instrument repair and rental 
shop JKEAA Music Services expressed concern about the possibility of 
having a dispensary for a neighbor.

They often work with school-age children, and they previously had 
problems with odors wafting in from a nearby dispensary, said shop 
manager Bryan Wade, 27.

"A lot of times that smell can get into the instrument cases, and you 
don't want that going home with the kids," he said.

In a nearby industrial park, Osgood, 64, said he's worried that 
putting medical marijuana facilities in such areas would attract more crime.

The area already has its share of problems, he said.

"We can't even leave our trash can out without it being filled up 
with stuff, (or) stuff poured out of it."

Resident Letitia Pepper, a Measure A supporter who lives in the 
University neighborhood, said fears that dispensaries would bring 
crime are overblown. The facilities would be required to have guards 
and other security measures, and would be more protected than 
convenience stores and other places where robberies occur, she said.

Having marijuana legally available for people with a medical need 
would also mean they wouldn't have to turn to the streets and buy it 
from criminals, Pepper said.

Some residents shared similar concerns that dispensaries would 
increase crime and have a negative influence on children.

On the Northside, Eloise Young's Cozumel Court home backs up to an 
industrially zoned area. A nearby methadone clinic already makes 
neighbors anxious about the people they see loitering there, the 36 
year old said while cradling a sleeping infant to her chest.

"The last thing you want is another location like that," she said.

A few blocks away at Reid Park, Brandy Park, 35, was watching Little 
League practice. The stay-at-home mother of six said she doesn't know 
anyone who uses medical marijuana, but "We definitely don't want that 
near here."

The measure would potentially allow dispensaries on nearly all sides 
of the Ab Brown Sports Complex  a hub for youth soccer games  and on 
the north end of Reid Park.

Riverside school board member Gayle Cloud, who represents several 
north side schools, said most Riverside Unified School District 
suspensions and expulsions stem from marijuana use. She doesn't think 
Measure A would help.

Pepper rejected the idea that dispensaries would put marijuana into 
the hands of children.

"They're never going to get it from a lawful dispensary that doesn't 
want to lose its license," she said, adding that it's unlikely 
customers would bother re-selling their medical marijuana because 
regulations and taxes make it more expensive than what's sold on the street.

With the election just over two weeks away, Measure A proponents are 
running volunteer phone banks to call likely voters. And the 
Riverside County Democratic Party has endorsed the initiative.

Meanwhile, Riverside's Mayor William "Rusty" Bailey, the City Council 
and police and fire chiefs have come out against the measure, as have 
the Riverside and Alvord unified school boards and the Greater 
Riverside Chambers of Commerce.

They argue that dispensaries could open near homes, churches and 
parks, that mobile dispensaries and edible products would make 
marijuana more accessible to kids, and that the measure's safety 
regulations are lax.

Measure A campaign spokesman Derek Humphrey called such concerns unwarranted.

"These are safe and legitimate businesses with ample security that 
are restricted from being next to schools and other sensitive areas," 
he said. "Having a structured and legal system for them to operate in 
is going to be the safest thing for Riverside neighborhoods and patients."


POLITICS OF POT: Riverside's Medical Marijuana Measure

First of Two Parts

TODAY, SUNDAY, May 17: If Riverside voters approve Measure A, up to 
10 medical marijuana dispensaries could open in commercial and 
industrial zones. What do neighbors and businesses in or near those 
zones think about the initiative?

MONDAY, May 18: One Inland city has had pot dispensaries for several 
years and may allow more: Palm Springs. How have the facilities 
worked there, and what do people and city leaders think about them?


The initiative would make Riverside the fourth city in Riverside 
County to allow medical marijuana dispensaries.

What: Measure A would permit up to 10 dispensaries to open. It would 
also allow mobile dispensaries, or delivery services.

Where: Facilities could operate in some commercial and industrial 
zones, and would have to be at least 1,000 feet from schools and 
other dispensaries.

How: Security guards and cameras would be required. Facilities would 
have to check customers' ID and doctor recommendation for medical marijuana.

When: Ballots for the mail-in election are due June 2.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom