San Leandro expands “weed” accessibility



By Priscilla Solis, CONTRIBUTOR

The first medical-only cannabis dispensary in San Leandro may be getting a permit to include recreational sales as well.
The city of San Leandro discussed the possibility of adding recreational use for marijuana to its existing permits at a city council meeting on Feb. 19. The three existing permits currently allow the sale of medical marijuana exclusively.
City deputy manager Eric Englebart explained that with this decision, the city now has the policy direction to move forward with allowing recreational marijuana sales to adults, but there are still some steps left in the process to make it official.
“We have to follow up in another meeting with a formal ordinance amendment that would actually execute that,” he said in an interview.
He explained that they will hold the first reading of the ordinance on March 15 and if it is adopted, then there would still need to be one more meeting after that and a 30-day waiting period for it to come into effect.
Changes to state drug laws regarding marijuana have reshaped the landscape of the industry, and some argue that California’s vote to legalize marijuana in November 2016 may be hurting medical-only dispensaries.
Arturo Sanchez, vice president of compliance and government of affairs for Blüm dispensaries, said at the council meeting that he believes that the state allowing adult sales in 2018 is one of the many reasons that people stopped seeking medical cards.
“It’s not that people no longer have a condition, it’s that that step needed to enter the store, went away,” he told the council.
Sanchez claims their business has had to turn away an average of 30 people a day since they have opened in January, and have lost out on about $2,000 in the pre-tax sale of marijuana.
The city passed Measure NN in 2016 which allowed for a limited number of medical marijuana sale permits in the city with the stipulations that they are medical-use sales only, and that a tax on the gross receipts is redirected back into the city.
The city originally issued three permits at that time. Blüm was the first of the three to open in Jan. 2019 and is currently the only one up and running.
“The timeline to get definite opening dates has been kind of like pulling teeth,” said San Leandro Mayor Pauline Cutter. She believes that the fact the Blüm has to turn people away due to lack of a cannabis card on a daily basis is telling as to why the other two business have yet to open.
“I think this is the final part that they needed to see happen before they went full speed ahead and I expect to the other two each to be opened before the end of June,” Cutter said.