Community Meetings on Retail Cannabis Differ

With two of the proposed retail cannabis locations holding community meetings this past week, the old real estate adage – location, location, location – seemed to be the key to the very different responses from the residents who attended the respective gatherings.

Sweet Flower, whose corporate headquarters at 10000 Culver Blvd. will also serve as their retail location, answered questions from the community at the Vets Memorial Building in the Garden Room at 7 pm on Tuesday, October 15.  Less than 40 people attended. With the presentation from Tim Dodd, the company’s CEO, it was clear that the focus on high quality, responsibly sourced cannabis was not as important to the people attending as the issue of where customers would park.

Residents of both Lincoln and Madison Avenues cited their already crowded curbs and the pressure of the growing popularity of downtown Culver City, making their streets attractive parking places. Dodd described a valet service that Sweet Flower would be providing, and that “all of our regular business procedures, from the delivery of the product to the money, all go through our downtown Los Angeles location. Culver City is not going to see an increase in congestion around our store.”

The community meeting for Beyond Hello took place at 6:30 on Thursday October 17. The Elks Lodge held the presentation for residents to ask questions, and the residents who turned up were a completely different group. Beyond Hello is owned by Jushi, a large cannabis company with a network of stores in Florida, New York and Colorado. Their CEO, Jim Cacioppo, led the presentation to less than 30 people in attendance. They will be building their retail store at the corner of Sepulveda and Venice, right on the border of Culver City and Los Angeles on a ‘brownfield’ site that has been decontaminated by the previous owner, Exxon/Mobil.

While the architectural renderings showed a building thoughtfully designed for security (separate entrance and exit, multiple cameras, unique employee entrance) the loudest question from the audience was about offering retail cannabis in an already crime-ridden area. The Los Angeles side of Venice Blvd. has a 7-Eleven store that sells alcohol, and the nearby homeless encampment under the 405 is one that has been a subject of contention between Los Angeles and Culver City.

Cacioppo responded by focusing on the security that would be present – two guards when the store was open, and one when it was closed – along with the many cameras on the building, as a means of helping to make the whole neighborhood safer.

The third retail cannabis company scheduled to open in Culver City, Essence, will be holding their community outreach meeting at Indigo House, 12512 W. Washington Blvd, Culver City 90066 on  Tuesday, October 29, 2019 at 7:00 p.m. The proposed location for Essence will be 12450 W. Washington Blvd. in Culver City. What the residents at that meeting bring out as their concerns will provide a more complete picture of the benefits and challenges of cannabis in Culver City.

Judith Martin-Straw

www.culvercitysymphony.org

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