By Ted AYALA
With a two-year moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries set to expire in September, the Glendale City Council, with Councilman Rafi Manoukian absent, discussed imposing a permanent ban on such dispensaries within the city limits Tuesday night.
Though Glendale has effectively shut out marijuana dispensaries by way of its zoning laws, marijuana collectives and their supporters have expressed increasing interest in expanding into the city. Dispensaries have also been encroaching along Glendale’s perimeter, with dispensaries proliferating in nearby Eagle Rock, Atwater Village, Tujunga and Highland Park.
Glendale Police Chief Ron de Pompa voiced his strong support for implementing a permanent ban.
“We have a variety of concerns related to the secondary effects of marijuana dispensaries concerning crime and public safety issues,” he explained. “We see the effects of [Los Angeles area dispensaries] spilling over into our communities. [Dispensaries] are frequently the target of vandals, burglars, robbery attempts and such. They typically generate a high degree of profit and are attractive targets for these kinds of criminal behaviors.
“Additionally we have concerns with the crimes associated with the clientele they attract and bring into the area. Thirdly, we’re concerned about the negative influx marijuana use brings into a community … specifically the La Crescenta area.”
De Pompa also cited the August 2007 bust of a major marijuana growing operation in the Verdugo Mountains above Crescenta Valley Park.
“[There were] literally hundreds of pounds of high grade sensimilla [marijuana] taken off those hillsides. We know that these kinds of sophisticated grows are supplying many of our local dispensaries and that many of them are controlled by Mexican drug cartels. Under the guise of medical marijuana and Proposition 215 provisions, [these criminal networks are allowed] to operate under a degree of camouflage.”
Glendale resident Christine Harmon expressed her own concern about marijuana dispensaries.
“From Glendale High School to the closest dispensary in Eagle Rock is only 1.25 miles,” said Harmon. “So let’s assume that it’s not a medical issue. It is about the other issues that affect the community surrounding the dispensaries and we have seen this over the last number of years, particularly in Los Angeles. I don’t think Glendale is in a position to take those issues on.”
Councilman Ara Najarian came out strongly against allowing marijuana dispensaries with the city limits.
“I wish we could go outside our borders and create a buffer zone as well because I think the proximity to some of the other neighborhoods is also having an effect on our community,” he said. “It is very easy to get a doctor’s recommendation. These drugs are bought and taken to our schools. We don’t need to encourage this.”
Before the council unanimously voted to support the drafting of a permanent ban on marijuana dispensaries, Mayor Laura Friedman also elaborated why she supported keeping the dispensaries away from Glendale.
“If the voters of California had a crystal ball to see how [Proposition 215] would have been implemented, they wouldn’t have voted for it,” Friedman said. “Anybody can get the drugs, it is being resold, and what really concerns me is that we don’t have a breathalyzer type test for marijuana for when people get pulled over.
“Even cities that jumped on-board the dispensary bandwagon are trying to backtrack because [the dispensaries] have become a real nuisance in the areas they’re in.”