The rumored arrival of a medical marijuana dispensary on Larchmont Boulevard was the catalyst for a community meeting designed to address concerns and discuss options for local stakeholders. The meeting was organized by Councilmember Tom LaBonge and drew a crowd to the gym at St. Brendan School.
A surprise appearance by LA City Attorney Mike Feuer gave those in attendance a tutorial in the role Prop D is playing in limiting the viability of medical marijuana dispensaries throughout the City of Los Angeles. According to Feuer, Prop D gives limited immunity to certain medical marijuana dispensaries. And while the balance of pot shops won’t have this immunity, it appears that the Canto Diem Dispensing Collective – the dispensary that is relocating from 5419 West Sunset Boulevard to Larchmont Boulevard – is on the list of potentially immunized dispensaries and will be one of the 135 shops allowed to operate under the Prop D conditions. According to Feuer, “the City does not validate any dispensary.” Instead his office works with local law enforcement to follow through to see if each dispensary meets the conditions of the Prop such as:
- not within 1,000 feet of a school
- not too close to another dispensary
- not near youth center
- may not create a public nuisance, for health or safety reasons
Feuer did confirm that his office recently determined that the medical marijuana dispensary that has been operating on 3rd Street, in the art-deco building on the north west corner of 3rd and Western, is operating outside the boundaries of limited immunity because it is within 1,000 feet of a school (St. Brendan on Manhattan Place and Charles Kim Elementary on Western.) The City Attorney’s Office is in the process of shutting that dispensary down.
The potential dispensary on Larchmont Boulevard does appear to meet the criteria for limited immunity under Prop D.
Councilmember Tom LaBonge appealed directly to the attorneys representing Canto Diem, who were present at the meeting, asking them to work with their client to find a different location. LaBonge made it clear that while he supports marijuana for legal medical use, he does not want to see it on Larchmont Boulevard. “I’ll help you find another location,” said LaBonge.
LAPD Wilshire Division Captain Eric Davis addressed the crowd with a hard dose of reality. “We are not going to be able to walk out of here and have it solved in 30 minutes like a police drama,” explained Davis. “What can LAPD do? Enforce the law. LAPD will be vigilant about watching development at this location. We will want to hear from citizens.”
Many of the stakeholders in the audience were local Larchmont Boulevard business owners. Boulevard property owner Tom Kneafsey made it clear that in his opinion “this is not the type of business that fits into the neighborhood. It will deter future business and investment in the area.” Kneafsey described how the Larchmont BID has been unified in making Larchmont more appealing to businesses. Last year the property owners agreed to contribute an additional 50% in dues to the BID with the intention of better marketing the Boulevard. According to Kneafsey, this kind of business will undermine that effort and will be very unattractive to other businesses looking to locate here.
Joane Pickett of Pickett Fences spoke on behalf of Larchmont business owners and neighborhood moms. “Larchmont Boulevard is the one place parents give their older children some freedom to hang out in LA. It’s the wrong kind of business to bring to Larchmont Village.”
The lawyer for Canto Diem Dispensing Collective attended the meeting and answered questions from the audience. Aaron Lachant, a lawyer with the law firm Fenton Nelson who represents the Canto Diem Dispensing Collective told the audience “we hear you loud and clear, your concerns with safety and your children. But the Prop D requirements make the zoning of dispensaries very restricted in LA. There are very few compliant locations in LA.”
According to Lachant, Canto Diem will have no sign, a 3 chamber security system with buzzers so that the marijuana is not accessible and robberies will be deterred. Only one customer will be served at a time. Staff will ensure no one is loitering around the building and there will be no smoking allowed in cars or in the area. Lachant didn’t know how many patrons the dispensary might expect each day, nor if there would be an armed guard on the premises. He did confirm that there will not be a physician on the premises.
Stakeholders pressed for the name of someone at the collective to whom they could reach out and Lachant revealed that Brian Hageman is the COO of the Canto Diem Collective, which is in essence owned by the collective of growers providing the marijuana to the dispensary. Lachant encouraged people to call and email Canto Diem with their questions and concerns at (424) 235-0489 or [email protected].
Of the more than 70 people attending the meeting, there were many with questions and comments. By the end of the session, most stakeholders seemed to agree with one of the local business owners when he pointed out that the one who is letting the neighborhood down is the building landlord.
At the time of the meeting, the dispensary was not yet open. According to LA City Attorney Mike Feuer, they have obtained the necessary permitting to move forward.
Editors Note: To be clear, the overall spirit of the meeting was not about the merits of medical marijuana. The issue is whether locating a medical marijuana dispensary in the heart of Larchmont Boulevard is a good thing for this neighborhood and its stakeholders. Please limit any comments to that conversation. Thank you.