City Decides To Cap Marijuana Dispensaries… At One


Photo: Keith Durflinger/SGVN
Robert Ortiz measures out medical marijuana for a patient at Whittier Hope Collective, Thursday, April 7, 2011. Whittier officials are considering capping at one the number of dispensaries allowed in the city, thus handing Ortiz a monopoly.

​The only legal medical marijuana dispensary in Whittier, California, may become a monopoly of one.

City officials, claiming to be concerned about a “potential influx” of pot shops, have proposed a cap of one of the number allowed, reports Mike Sprague at the Whittier Daily News.
The amendment to the zoning ordinance, recommended Monday on a 5-0 vote by the Planning Commission, is expected to go to the City Council at its meeting on May 10.
Assistant City Manager Jeff Collier claimed the cap of just one dispensary was based on the small number of Whittier residents holding state-authorized medical marijuana cards. There are supposedly only 22 in town.

“We’re providing the number of businesses necessary to serve that particular constituent base,” Collier claimed.

Photo: Keith Durflinger/SGVN
An employee weighs medical marijuana for a patient at Whittier Hope Collective, Thursday, April 7, 2011

​”We don’t need of influx of these throughout our city,” Collier said. Heavens, you certainly wouldn’t want any additional tax money in city coffers, would you?
“We’re accommodating the use but we’re not going beyond what is necessary to serve residents,” Collier said.
The proposed cap would allow for a second medical marijuana dispensary — if the owner could “demonstrate through documented evidence” there is “compelling need and demand for a second facility to serve residents of the city of Whittier only.”
That’s right, city leaders! It’s for sure that you wouldn’t want any of those out-of-town marijuana dollars staying there in Whittier, where they’re not needed! Hey, wait a minute…
You might think the one dispensary in town might have had some influence on this process — after all, it’s a businessman’s dream being handed a monopoly for an entire city, isn’t it?
But Robert Ortiz, director of the Whittier Hope Collective, which opened in July 2010, said he was surprised to hear about the proposed law.
“It’s obvious (city officials) feel that’s what the city needs,” Ortiz said. “I can’t say that I’m really more excited or not excited.”
Ortiz, whose dispensary serves about 2,500 patients (so much for “only 22 cardholders” needing medicine, eh?), said he doesn’t believe the law creates a monopoly. Of course, he would say that.
“There are other options for patients, the most important of which is home cultivation,” he said.
In addition, there are other dispensaries in nearby Santa Fe Springs, according to Ortiz.
Bill Britt, executive director for the Association of Patient Advocates, criticized the plan.
“I can’t think of anything as un-American as that,” Britt said.
“No other business is restricted like that. Patients will suffer,” he said. “How many pharmacies are there in the city? How many liquor stores are there?”
To base a law on the number of patient cards is misleading, according to Britt.
“Everybody’s afraid to get the cards,” he said. “Plus, it costs $75, just if you’re on Medi-Cal. And that’s on top of getting the doctor’s letter.”
Britt said he believes that 10 percent of any given city most likely uses marijuana for medical reasons.