Pacificans who worried about the opening of the city’s first cannabis dispensaries can be forgiven. There are cities across the country that were overrun with them. Because the federal government continues to criminalize marijuana, these dispensaries have trouble with insurance and the banking industry. That can theoretically make them the target of crime. Many worried, without evidence, that having a legal dispensary in town would lead more kids to try the drug and that a government stamp of approval was just another moral failing in a society that sometimes seems to be teetering.
Well, it appears most, if not all, of those worries are proving unfounded here. Just ask Pacifica Police Chief Dan Steidle.
“There is nothing in here that concerns me whatsoever,” Steidle said as he looked over a year’s worth of police reports concerning Lytt, the Palmetto Avenue establishment that represents Pacifica’s second foray into the potentially lucrative cannabis business.
The occasion was a Pacifica Planning Commission meeting that served as the mandated annual review of 29 conditions Lytt must meet to satisfy its permits with the city.
“I believe there was only one call that had anything to do with cannabis,” Steidle said at the Oct. 19 meeting. That turned out to be for someone smoking pot outside the business, and the Lytt security guard handled it.
It was a similar story for Phog Center, the city’s first legal dispensary. It, too, passed its annual review with flying colors. This is good news in a city that is contemplating adding more dispensaries in the coming years. At last count there were more than 1,400 such businesses in California, one of 11 states to legalize recreational use. Another 33 states allow sales of medicinal marijuana. However you feel about the drug, it is increasingly acceptable to more and more people and ever more clear that these businesses are no different than the corner liquor store. You might not like what they sell, but that doesn’t necessarily make them bad business neighbors.
These shops are good for local government as well. While the city can’t share tax revenues for the class since there are fewer than four and doing so would identify individual business performance, we know each dispensary pays a $22,059 “public safety license renewal fee” and a $500 business license. And the city of Pacifica is expecting $500,000 in revenues from the dispensaries in the 2020-21 fiscal year.
There has been a sea change in public perception when it comes to cannabis sales and use. A Pew Center study last year found that two-thirds of Americans now support legalization, double the percentage from 20 years ago. Nine in 10 Americans support legalizing marijuana for medicinal use. The Pew study found that even many older adults in red states favor legalization.
May Lytt continue to light that path. Pacifica could use more businesses that are able to weather coronavirus, play by all local rules and anticipate a growing market.
— Clay Lambert