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Change.org Petition

Petition Opposes Marijuana Dispensaries In Unincorporated Mill Valley

Please click HERE to sign the online petition if you agree that the proposed medical marijuana dispensary locations in Unincorporated Mill Valley are not appropriate.

Opponents to the proposed Mill Valley marijuana dispensary locations affirm that they are too close to schools, youth-oriented facilities, children’s commute routes, and hazardous traffic congestion, besides other concerns.

BACKGROUND

The Marin County Supervisors adopted an ordinance in December 2015 that allows up to four medical cannabis dispensaries in Unincorporated Marin. This includes up to two dispensaries in the highly populated Highway 101 corridor in eastern Marin and up to two dispensaries in the more rural central and western parts of the county.

Consequently, the County of Marin is currently processing ten applications for medical marijuana dispensary licenses, with eight in the 101 Corridor Zone and two in the Central/West Marin Zone. The Central/West Marin applications include one in Marshall and one in San Geronimo. The 101 Corridor applications include three in Black Point, one in Santa Venetia, and four in Unincorporated Mill Valley. Licenses will be granted by Matthew Hymel, the County Administrator.

The four applications tied to dispensary locations in Unincorporated Mill Valley are:

You can learn more about the license applicants HERE.

Contrary to the County, none of Marin's 11 municipalities have given approval for medical marijuana dispensaries in their jurisdictions. A number of delivery services, however, currently supply medical cannabis to patients throughout Marin.

CONCERNS

Although supportive of patients having access to medical marijuana, many Mill Valley residents are voicing strong opposition to the proposed dispensary locations in the Tam Junction and Manzanita areas of Unincorporated Mill Valley for the following reasons:

1. TRAFFIC CONGESTION WOULD PREVENT PATIENTS FROM HAVING EASY ACCESS TO THE MARIJUANA DISPENSARIES

The roads leading to the proposed dispensaries in Unincorporated Mill Valley are highly congested and would not allow easy access for patients. The 2007 Countywide Plan’s Environmental Impact Report (EIR) found Shoreline Hwy (the road on which the proposed dispensaries would be located) to be the most congested highway in Unincorporated Marin, with an unacceptable Level of Service “F”. And conditions have only gotten worse. A 2015 report by the Mill Valley Traffic and Congestion Reduction Advisory Task Force demonstrated that travel-times on the Almonte Blvd-Shoreline Hwy corridor had increased by 35% since 2013.

2. A DISPENSARY WOULD DRAW NEW REGIONAL TRAFFIC, WHICH WOULD FURTHER EXACERBATE HAZARDOUS TRAFFIC CONDITIONS

With only two dispensaries allowed in the entire East side of Marin, a dispensary would draw new regional traffic, which would further exacerbate the hazardous traffic conditions in Unincorporated Mill Valley.

The Tamalpais Area Community Plan governs the area where the dispensaries are proposed. The plan emphasizes that businesses and services should serve the local community and not attract regional traffic.

3. A DISPENSARY SHOULD NOT BE LOCATED CLOSE TO WHERE CHILDREN REGULARLY CONGREGATE OR PASS BY

Marijuana use by adolescents is linked to disruption of brain development:

Many medical reports demonstrate that cannabis use by adolescents is linked to disruption of brain development. According to an article published by the American Psychological Association (APA) entitled; “Marijuana and the Developing Brain”, Susan Weiss PhD, Director of the Extramural Research at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), stated; “There’s a growing literature, and it’s all pointing in the same direction: Starting young and using marijuana frequently may disrupt brain development.”

“At least until the early or mid-20s, the brain is still under construction,” says Staci Gruper PhD, a neuroscientist and director of the Cognitive and Clinical Nueroimaging Care and the Marijuana Investigations for Neuroscientific Discovery (MIND) Program at McLean Hospital/Harvard Medical School. “During this period of neurodevelopment, the brain is thought to be particularly sensitive to damage from drug exposure. And the frontal cortex – the region critical to planning, judgment, decision-making and personality – is one of the last areas to fully develop.”

Below are links to a few of the pertinent reports/studies:

Exposure of healthy minors to medical marijuana dispensaries may encourage them to sample the substance:

The American Psychological Association article entitled; “Marijuana and the Developing Brain,” emphasizes that legalization of medical marijuana, despite age limits, might make marijuana more accessible to young people and adolescents’ developing brains may be particularly vulnerable to lasting damage from the drug. Click HERE to view the article.

The “White Paper on Marijuana Dispensaries” by the California Police Chiefs Association states; “Minors who are exposed to marijuana at dispensaries may be subtly influenced to regard it as a generally legal drug, and inclined to sample it. Dispensaries also sell marijuana to minors.” Click HERE to view the white paper.

The Medical Cannabis Dispensary Ordinance does not allow a dispensary within 800 feet of a youth-oriented facility:

Marin County's Medical Cannabis Dispensary Ordinance (Ordinance No. 3639) states; “A dispensary shall not be allowed in the following areas at the time of its permitted establishment: (1) Within 800 feet of a youth-oriented facility, school, a smoke-shop which sells paraphernalia for consuming drug or tobacco products, or another dispensary…” The ordinance defines youth-oriented facilities as “amenities that are intended for use by minors or where the individuals who regularly use the facility are predominantly minors”.

The proposed dispensary locations at 200, 230 and 256 Shoreline Hwy sit within 800 feet of six youth-oriented facilities. These include:

According to Google Maps, students would be able to bike from the Tamalpais High School, Tam Valley Elementary School, or the Tam Valley Community Center to any of the proposed Unincorporated Mill Valley dispensaries within a few minutes. In addition, all four of the proposed dispensary locations sit alongside safe routes to school.

Due to the probable health risk, healthy adolescents, whose brains are still developing, should not be encouraged to use marijuana. Healthy children who are regularly exposed to medical marijuana at or near dispensaries may be subtly influenced to regard it as a generally acceptable drug (including for recreational purposes), to think about it more frequently and be inclined to sample it. Easy access to physicians’ phony recommendations (which can now be obtained on line without ever physically visiting a doctor’s office), coupled with easy access to a dispensary may also encourage adolescents to consume marijuana. Moreover, young healthy adults (E.g. 18 years of age), who obtain phony physician recommendations, sometimes resell to, or share their marijuana with, friends who are minors.

Therefore, a medical marijuana dispensary should not be located close to where children regularly pass by or congregate.

6. THE COUNTY SHOULD DISALLOW NEW DEVELOPMENT AT PROPOSED DISPENSARY LOCATIONS THAT ARE DESIGNATED FOR MARSH RESTORATION

Three of the four proposed Mill Valley Dispensary locations are designated for acquisition for open space and restoration back to marshland in the Tamalpais Area Community Plan and the Marin Countywide Plan. These are 150 Shoreline Hwy, 200 Shoreline Hwy, and 230 Shoreline Hwy.

The Tam Junction and Manzanita commercial areas, along with four of the proposed dispensaries, sit within the 100-year flood plain. These areas, which are historic wetlands, flood regularly. The San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission and the Pacific Institute map predict that they will be covered with water when 1 meter of sea level rise occurs.

The vision of the Tamalpais Area Community Plan, reinforced by the Marin Countywide Plan, is for the East side of Shoreline Hwy to be acquired and restored back to marshland. Besides other benefits, this would help lessen flooding in the area. In the future, as sea level rises higher, the restored wetland could allow for the retreat of baylands/wetlands habitat and wildlife, including endangered species, as waters rise.

Therefore, the County should deny applications for dispensaries that would require an increase in the building square footage on any site on the East side of Shoreline Hwy.

7. DENYING MEDICAL CANNABIS DISPENSARY LICENSE APPLICATIONS IN UNINCORPORATED MILL VALLEY WOULD NOT PREVENT LOCALS FROM HAVING EASY ACCESS TO THE MARIJUANA MEDICINE

It is important to note that even if there weren’t a dispensary in Unincorporated Mill Valley, local patients would still have easy access to medical marijuana due to convenient delivery services.

Most “brick and mortar” dispensaries sell online and offer delivery services and many deliver to patients’ homes within 15 to 45 minutes. Websites provide detailed photos and descriptions of the medical marijuana products. If patients need personal guidance, they can call the dispensary and get immediate advice over the telephone.

On January 1, 2018, CA State Assembly Bill - AB 266, the Medical Cannabis Regulation Safety Act, will take effect. Although AB 266 restricts deliveries somewhat, the bill still allows medical cannabis to be delivered to qualified patients by dispensaries in cities or counties that do not explicitly prohibit it by local ordinance. Marin County’s Medical Cannabis Dispensary Ordinance (Ordinance No. 3639) allows a licensed dispensary in Unincorporated Marin to provide deliveries. Nearby dispensaries in San Francisco and the East Bay may also be able to continue to deliver medical marijuana to Marin patients (although this cross-jurisdiction service needs to be verified).

CONCLUSION

Medical marijuana is a beneficial medicine that patients should have easy access to. Due to convenient delivery services, such access is not dependent on a patient living near a medical cannabis dispensary.

Safety should be given priority when selecting a dispensary location. As such, dispensaries should be prohibited in areas with hazardous traffic conditions and/or close to where children regularly pass by or congregate. Therefore, all four medical cannabis dispensary license applications tied to locations in Unincorporated Mill Valley should be denied.

Instead, the County should select Medical Cannabis dispensary sites that are easily reachable and where roads leading to the dispensaries have acceptable traffic levels. Furthermore, dispensaries should be located far away from schools, youth-oriented facilities, and routes to school. If such locations are difficult to find, then emphasis should be placed on medical marijuana delivery services.

Once again - Please click HERE to sign the online petition if you agree that the proposed medical marijuana dispensary locations in Unincorporated Mill Valley are not appropriate.

**For more detailed information as to why the proposed medical cannabis dispensary locations in Unincorporated Mill Valley are inappropriate, please read the attached letter from Sustainable TamAlmonte. Also, please note that the dispensary license application for the Poplar Street location was withdrawn after the letter was written.