By Steven Tavares.
San Leandro’s medical marijuana dispensary ordinance was amended Monday to include a possible third permit. The San Leandro City Council only recently awarded a second permit in July, and now with its latest action, is setting the stage for third dispensary even before the initial permit holder Oakland’s Harborside last year has even opened its doors.
In addition, San Leandro Mayor Pauline Cutter suggested Monday night the process for determining the third permit holder may move forward without an open process. Cutter said Blum Oakland should receive the forthcoming permit. “We have a candidate that is qualified and I would like to award it to Blum,” said Cutter.
Blum Oakland ranked third in the city’s initial bidding process last year behind Harborside and the Davis Street Wellness Center group. Permits for the top two operators have since been approved, but neither is ready for business.
The city council also removed a portion of the ordinance that barred dispensaries from locating less than 1,000 feet apart. Councilmember Jim Prola said the prohibition was a vestige from the city’s early medical cannabis dispensary ordinance drafts. The city initially worried then-U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag, known for her aggressive crackdowns on dispensaries in the state, might target potential San Leandro operators if they were clustered in one area, said Prola.
San Leandro Councilmember Benny Lee, who abstained Monday night, expressed unease over approving yet another dispensary permit within such a short period of time. “I think we’re jumping the gun since the first dispensary hasn’t even opened and we’ve just about approved the second dispensary in a process that was not an open,” said Lee. “We’re changing the rules on the fly…I don’t think it is wise to rush at this.”
Dan Grace, a local medical cannabis cultivator affiliated with Harborside San Leandro’s operation, said the city’s approach since awarding its first dispensary permit has been unfair. “The city has not been a good partner,” said Grace. “All along the way the City of San Leandro has moved the goalposts. It’s like a bait and switch.”
At this time, there is no process for how the city will grant its third permit, pending further direction from the council, said City Attorney Richard Pio Roda. However, Cutter and Prola said they would support relying on the city’s original Request for Proposals from a year ago. “Three dispensaries rose to the top,” said Prola. “I don’t think we need to go through another procedure.”