Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Marijuana Dispensaries!!!! :)
The hardship applications went unchallenged by the City Council, and the number of dispensaries soared to its current level of about 800. San Francisco, by comparison, has about 30 dispensaries.
Mr. Halbert joined the rush in March. He was running a dating service in Phoenix when a friend pointed out an ad on Craigslist from Marc Kent, a former attorney, offering to help people apply for the hardship exemption for a $3,500 fee. He said he has helped people open up more than 100 dispensaries.
"It was pretty much a turn-key operation," said Mr. Kent.
Mr. Halbert made three trips to Los Angeles and toured several facilities that had opened under the hardship clause. "I did my due diligence," he said.He settled on a storefront on Venice Boulevard in West Los Angeles.
He registered the business as Best Buds, but later changed the outlet's name to Rainforest Collective. He placed a clapboard sign out front and advertised his services with a flashing neon sign in the window.
He decorated his shop with rainforest-themed murals. Clients could select from an assortment of marijuana strains for smoking, as well as "edibles" -- pretzels and cookies with the marijuana baked inside. Total investment: close to $100,000, he said.
Mr. Halbert encourages customers to consume their marijuana on the premises and lures them with such offers as movie nights. "We don't want them to just come here and get their medicine," he said. "We want them to come here and maybe make some friends, have some fellowship."
He said he now has about 1,000 customers, but declined to discuss how much the shop makes. Mr. Halbert said he might try to fight the city order to close and planned to stay open as long as possible. In his hearing before the planning committee Tuesday, Mr. Halbert produced letters of support from residents and local businesses.
Other neighborhood activists, however, have campaigned to shut down the dispensaries.
Cindy Cleghorn, a member of a neighborhood council in a another part of the city, complained her area is overrun.
"It's out of control," she said. Ms. Cleghorn said the new dispensaries violate neighborhood-improvement guidelines and operate in storefronts that are zoned for other uses. "It's not about the marijuana, it's about the land-use issues," says Ms. Cleghorn, who brought her complaints to the City Council.
But because so many dispensaries had opened up without resistance from the city, Mr. Halbert said, "Any business person would assume that the city's fine" with them.