potlede.jpgTaraval District captain accused of “lobbying” against proposed dispensary

Law enforcement and medicinal cannabis have had a rocky relationship in California since Proposition 215 was passed in 1996, but marijuana patients in San Francisco have had an easier time than counterparts in, say, Riverside County. After all, as recently as last month a San Francisco police spokesman told media that dispensaries reduce crime in the neighborhoods in which they operate.

But SFPD’s role in determining whether or not medicinal cannabis dispensaries can open up was thrown into question Wednesday night. At Wednesday’s Police Commission meeting, commissioner Petra DeJesus suggested Taraval Station Captain Denise Schmitt inappropriately “lobbied” the Planning Department against a dispensary opening up in her district.

DeJesus referred to a letter dated Feb. 22 signed by Schmitt and addressed to the Planning Department (page 2 on the PDF), who is responsible for land-use issues like the opening of a dispensary. In the letter, Schmitt says she has “concern” over a proposed dispensary wishing to do business on Taraval Street at 32nd Avenue. “MCDs have proven an attractive target for violent criminals,” Schmitt wrote. “Dispensaries have experienced take-over robberies, burglaries, shootings, stabbings, fights and homicides. Additionally, criminals target the pedestrian traffic in and around MCDs for strong-arm and armed robberies… These potential side effects of an MCD are very concerning given the residential character of the neighborhood.” Sales to children, perhaps students at nearby Lincoln High, are “predictable,” Schmitt added.

Schmitt’s statements would seem to contradict the words of her department’s spokesman mentioned above. Most importantly, a letter from a district police captain also carries significant weight with the Planning Department, who will decide May 20 whether or not BACH may do business. DeJesus called Schmitt on the carpet for writing the letter, and also questioned the veracity of the letter’s allegations.

“This is a really political letter,” DeJesus said. “This is a letter, I’m surprised to see, actually.”

“Should the department be lobbying or opposing access to [medical] marijuana, which is legal in this state?” asked DeJesus, who challenged Schmitt — and Police Chief George Gas?on, who was in attendance — to back up the statements regarding crime cannabis dispensaries. “If you take it upon yourself to oppose the dispensary,” she asked, “what statistics have you?”

A visibly irritated Gas?on told DeJesus he would provide statistics at the next Police Commission hearing.

When asked about the conflict after the meeting, Gas?on politely declined to speak to the Appeal, and directed questions SFPD’s media office, which did not respond to requests for comment Thursday.

Schmitt received support from police commissioner Thomas Mazzucco, who touted his experience with marijuana as a federal prosecutor (putting pot growers in jail, presumably, but who’s counting?).

“I’ve seen those sites as a prosecutor that have put neighborhoods at risk,” he said. “I think our police captains have every First Amendment right in the world to write a letter if they’re asked to do so by people in their neighborhoods and express their opinions.”

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  • bloomsm

    The whole debate is kind of a fraud. Last year, the police department’s vice squad busted dozens of grow house operations in the Sunset District. So it’s kind of rich to suggest that the police department should take a totally hands off approach as respects a dispensary, or go so far as to support one. The concern of people in the Sunset–including the cops out there–is that the grow houses tend to attract violence (check news reports of Sunset grow house busts; frequently, there’s also guns or weapons). Dispensaries have just as much cash and drugs lying around, and frankly, it is a totally inconsistent use in the Outer Sunset’s main commercial corridor. You would have the same opposition over a strip club.

  • bloomsm

    The whole debate is kind of a fraud. Last year, the police department’s vice squad busted dozens of grow house operations in the Sunset District. So it’s kind of rich to suggest that the police department should take a totally hands off approach as respects a dispensary, or go so far as to support one. The concern of people in the Sunset–including the cops out there–is that the grow houses tend to attract violence (check news reports of Sunset grow house busts; frequently, there’s also guns or weapons). Dispensaries have just as much cash and drugs lying around, and frankly, it is a totally inconsistent use in the Outer Sunset’s main commercial corridor. You would have the same opposition over a strip club.

  • Wil

    @blooms It’s disingenuous to equate illegal grow houses (like the ones busted last year in the Sunset) with legal marijuana dispensaries (like the one at the center of this debate). They’re not the same, and using the former as an argument against the latter is just scare-mongering.

  • Wil

    @blooms It’s disingenuous to equate illegal grow houses (like the ones busted last year in the Sunset) with legal marijuana dispensaries (like the one at the center of this debate). They’re not the same, and using the former as an argument against the latter is just scare-mongering.

  • bloomsm

    Wil: where do you think dispensaries get their stock from? Last I heard, Big Pharma wasn’t stocking 420 for retail sale. I have nothing against pot; however, I have no interest in a dispensary 10 blocks from my house. And as far as equating the grow houses with dispensaries, at least four of the houses busted in the Sunset last year were selling to dispensaries. http://blogs.sfweekly.com/thesnitch/2009/09/grow_house_crackdown.php

    If you want to legalize it, I’m all for it. When this is repealed call me: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Controlled_Substances_Act

  • bloomsm

    Wil: where do you think dispensaries get their stock from? Last I heard, Big Pharma wasn’t stocking 420 for retail sale. I have nothing against pot; however, I have no interest in a dispensary 10 blocks from my house. And as far as equating the grow houses with dispensaries, at least four of the houses busted in the Sunset last year were selling to dispensaries. http://blogs.sfweekly.com/thesnitch/2009/09/grow_house_crackdown.php

    If you want to legalize it, I’m all for it. When this is repealed call me: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Controlled_Substances_Act

  • bloomsm

    United States v. Oakland Cannabis Buyers’ Coop., 532 U.S. 483 (2001).

  • bloomsm

    United States v. Oakland Cannabis Buyers’ Coop., 532 U.S. 483 (2001).

  • Erik

    You are always free to not go to the dispensary 10 blocks from your house. I can’t imagine any other way it might affect you.

  • Erik

    You are always free to not go to the dispensary 10 blocks from your house. I can’t imagine any other way it might affect you.

  • DT

    Put the dispensaries ONLY in SF Government Health Clinics and have the “customers” enroll in Healthy San Francisco. Alternatively, have the dispensaries at Police Stations; they are open 24 hours.

  • DT

    Put the dispensaries ONLY in SF Government Health Clinics and have the “customers” enroll in Healthy San Francisco. Alternatively, have the dispensaries at Police Stations; they are open 24 hours.

  • dantsea

    If there’s one thing I’ve noticed about law enforcement, it isn’t too different from the whores they bust for prostitution: shit ain’t gonna get done until a bitch gets paid. I don’t think it’s mere coincidence that police management around the Bay Area, people who previously had nothing to say, are all of a sudden vocal in opposition. This smells like a coordinated campaign and I’d love to know who is bankrolling it.

  • dantsea

    If there’s one thing I’ve noticed about law enforcement, it isn’t too different from the whores they bust for prostitution: shit ain’t gonna get done until a bitch gets paid. I don’t think it’s mere coincidence that police management around the Bay Area, people who previously had nothing to say, are all of a sudden vocal in opposition. This smells like a coordinated campaign and I’d love to know who is bankrolling it.

  • dantsea

    Good ideas, DT. I know for a fact that dispensaries and co-ops have proposed this on numerous occasions, not just in San Francisco but in nearby cities as well. Elected leaders and local “concerned citizens” won’t oppose this, worse, they actively ignore it because it’s the ultimate bluff calling device. They don’t want regulated access, they don’t want to follow the law, they just want access to be someone else’s problem, not theirs.

  • dantsea

    Good ideas, DT. I know for a fact that dispensaries and co-ops have proposed this on numerous occasions, not just in San Francisco but in nearby cities as well. Elected leaders and local “concerned citizens” won’t oppose this, worse, they actively ignore it because it’s the ultimate bluff calling device. They don’t want regulated access, they don’t want to follow the law, they just want access to be someone else’s problem, not theirs.

  • Leonard Krivitsky, MD, DD

    The decision by the people of this country concerning legalization of the marijuana medicinal plant that has been used by humans for thousands of years is based in choosing between two opinions. The first one, articulated by the “father” of marijuana prohibition in the 1930-s and the second one by Dr Grinspoon, one of the leading contemporary experts in this country.

    These are the the direct quotes from the prohibitionist Harry Anslinger pushing the “Marijuana Tax Act” of 1937 that led to the outlawing of this quintessential medicinal plant:

    “There are 100,000 total marijuana smokers in the US, and most are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos, and entertainers. Their Satanic music, jazz, and swing, result from marijuana use. This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers, and any others.

    the primary reason to outlaw marijuana is its effect on the degenerate races.

    Marijuana is an addictive drug which produces in its users insanity, criminality, and death.

    Reefer makes darkies think theyre as good as white men.

    Marihuana leads to pacifism and communist brainwashing

    You smoke a joint and youre likely to kill your brother.

    Marijuana is the most violence-causing drug in the history of mankind.

    And this is what Dr. Grinspoon said in 2006 about Cannabis Sativa medicinal Plant:

    “Cannabis will one day be seen as a wonder drug, as was penicillin in the 1940s. Like penicillin, herbal marijuana is remarkably nontoxic, has a wide range of therapeutic applications and would be quite inexpensive if it were legal”.
    Dr. Lester Grinspoon, professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, Los Angeles Times, May 5, 2006 ”

    These are two opinions the citizens around the country will be asked to compare and to choose from. I do not believe that the choice is exceedingly difficult one. What I believe is that the fear-tactics must be rejected once and for all, and at least medical marijuana should be legalized in all 50 States ASAP.

  • Leonard Krivitsky, MD, DD

    The decision by the people of this country concerning legalization of the marijuana medicinal plant that has been used by humans for thousands of years is based in choosing between two opinions. The first one, articulated by the “father” of marijuana prohibition in the 1930-s and the second one by Dr Grinspoon, one of the leading contemporary experts in this country.

    These are the the direct quotes from the prohibitionist Harry Anslinger pushing the “Marijuana Tax Act” of 1937 that led to the outlawing of this quintessential medicinal plant:

    “There are 100,000 total marijuana smokers in the US, and most are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos, and entertainers. Their Satanic music, jazz, and swing, result from marijuana use. This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers, and any others.

    the primary reason to outlaw marijuana is its effect on the degenerate races.

    Marijuana is an addictive drug which produces in its users insanity, criminality, and death.

    Reefer makes darkies think theyre as good as white men.

    Marihuana leads to pacifism and communist brainwashing

    You smoke a joint and youre likely to kill your brother.

    Marijuana is the most violence-causing drug in the history of mankind.

    And this is what Dr. Grinspoon said in 2006 about Cannabis Sativa medicinal Plant:

    “Cannabis will one day be seen as a wonder drug, as was penicillin in the 1940s. Like penicillin, herbal marijuana is remarkably nontoxic, has a wide range of therapeutic applications and would be quite inexpensive if it were legal”.
    Dr. Lester Grinspoon, professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, Los Angeles Times, May 5, 2006 ”

    These are two opinions the citizens around the country will be asked to compare and to choose from. I do not believe that the choice is exceedingly difficult one. What I believe is that the fear-tactics must be rejected once and for all, and at least medical marijuana should be legalized in all 50 States ASAP.