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Medical marijuana dispensary allowed to relocate

on November 20, 2013

The Richmond City Council approved a permit Tuesday night to allow a marijuana dispensary to move from its current location near Hilltop Mall to a largely abandoned street on Bissell Avenue, less than one block from the Target on Macdonald.

The vote to move the Green Remedy Collective was unanimous with Council Member Jael Myrick abstaining because of a political contribution conflict of interest. The collective is one of four medical marijuana dispensaries in the city.

With four dispensaries currently operating and six permits issued, Richmond has the highest number of marijuana shops per capita in the Bay Area, according to the Contra Costa Times.  City officials estimate they generate sales tax revenue of approximately $200,000 per year. The Green Remedy Collective’s tax revenue is $156,790, according to a staff report.

The building the dispensary currently occupies at 2928 Hilltop Mall Rd. is in foreclosure, and if the collective hadn’t been able to secure a new site, it likely would have gone out of business, said Darrin Parle, with the Green Remedy Collective.  “A lot of people’s jobs are riding on this, and a lot of people count on our services.”

The collective serves nearly 9,000 members; 1,845 of them are Richmond residents. It also provides 18 full- and four part-time positions, 11 of them being held by Richmond residents, the collective said.

“This group did everything right,” said Vice Mayor Corky Booze. “They have a clean track record and I think its good for the city and good for jobs.

About two-dozen supporters, many whom wore neon green t-shirts to show their support for the collective’s relocation, celebrated with handshakes and hugs following the council approval.

Lynette Young, who lives not far from the new site and is a regular customer of the collective, said she doesn’t see a downside to the business relocating.

“I never have to worry that I’m not going to be safe going in or coming out,” she said. “I want safe access and their product is tested. I don’t want to go to the street and buy my medicine, I want something that’s tested.”

The new storefront on Bissell is an ideal location for the business because of its proximity to BART and bus lines, the staff report said. The area is tucked away and there is very little foot traffic.

However, in order to move into the building, the dispensary needed to get a permit exemption—medical marijuana dispensaries are only allowed to operate in C-3 commercial zones, and the Bissell site is designated as C-2.

Some residents were worried that the exception could open the floodgates for other dispensaries to move into the region. Others were concerned about an increase in crime with the collective’s relocation, but according to a staff report from the police department, there were no spikes of crimes near the legal dispensary.

In other actions, the council also decided to hire the firm Stifel, Nicolaus & Co. as the underwriter for the city’s refinancing bonds. In August, Richmond was unable to sell nearly $4 million in bonds despite its strong credit rating.  Currently, the city is hoping to sell the same bonds for roughly $1.2 million—at a $2.7 million loss.

The city’s foreclosure prevention plan likely scared investors away, Booze said. “We have lost a lot of money playing this eminent domain game.”

By changing the public’s perception towards the program, investors would most likely buy the city’s bonds, said James Cervantes, managing director of Stifel, Nicolaus & Co.

“The real issue on the bonds is the story or the headlines around them; it’s not the bonds themselves.”

The firm said it would most likely offer investors an interest rate that is a half a percent higher than the standard rate, since potential buyers would want to be compensated for analyzing Richmond’s bonds. This would end up costing the city an additional $30,000.

Mayor Gayle McLaughlin asked that the council put the monetary loss into context. “Every foreclosure that we prevent saves the city $19,000,” she said. “If we save 400 homes from foreclosure, that’s something like $8 million, so let’s put this into perspective.”

City Manager Bill Lindsay said that while Richmond’s inability to sell its bonds has cost money, its credit is not at risk.


  1. Don Gosney on November 27, 2013 at 2:23 pm

    It’s strange that comments posted to this article almost immediately after it was posted cannot be seen. This is happening quite frequently and might make a paranoid person think that the comments are being selectively deleted.

    This is not the first time this has happened and attempts to contact the RCF editors seems to have fallen on deaf ears.

    Has anyone else experienced this problem?

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