Housing Complex

Why Isn’t Ward 5 Thrilled About Being the Pot District?

It's just a plant!

UPDATE, Thursday, 1:00 p.m. – Shani responds over at City Desk that people in Ward 5 neighborhoods resist the introduction of things like pot and bars because of the memory of how drugs and alcohol wrecked their communities in decades past. (TheMail picked up on the exchange today, and sniped at me for it). I should have been clearer in the original post. I understand what leads people to battle this kind of new stuff; I spent a lot of time listening to their arguments over Bloomingdale's first sit-down alcohol-serving establishment. I just don't think they stand up under scrutiny.

Yesterday, crack pot correspondent Martin Austermuhle discovered that most of the applications for cultivation centers to be licensed under D.C.'s new marijuana law are clustered in the Northeast neighborhoods of Brentwood, Langdon, and Ivy City. Already, I've seen grumbling on the internet about "dumping" the facilities in a less affluent area that feels it gets more than its fair share of undesirable businesses. I also have no reason to doubt ANC 5B watcher Geoff Hatchard's assessment that the local politicos—in one of the city's most notoriously dysfunctional ANCs—will be quite hostile to the proposed grow operations.

Such antipathy makes no sense. Concentrating marijuana production (and even sales, although that's not what these applications are for) in Ward 5 would be a boon to the area, not a blight—they're employment centers, after all, that will pour capital back into the communities they inhabit. Cannabis greenhouses would celebrate and compliment the presence of the neighboring National Arboretum. They're heavily regulated enough that any leakage of product to people who shouldn't have it would get them shut down in a jiffy.

Furthermore, there's no evidence that marijuana operations increase crime—in fact, experience points the other way. The Denver police department found that pot dispensaries aren't robbed any more than banks or liquor stores. And last year, when Los Angeles abruptly closed 70 percent of the 638 dispensaries operating in the city, the RAND Corporation reported an increase in crime over the ten days following the crackdown. "Despite its plausibility, we know of no systemic evaluation of the claim that dispensaries themselves attract or cause crime," the authors wrote.

To see the positive effect the above-board pot economy can have on a neighborhood, look no further than Oaksterdam, the go-to place in the Bay Area for all things cannabis. It's spawned any number of ancillary commercial enterprises, and even has a university that prepares people for careers in the medical marijuana industry.

I have no idea why a neighborhood wouldn't welcome a weed cluster. It's hell of a lot better than strip clubs.

Photo from flickr user erissiva under a Creative Commons attribution license.

  • h4pr

    First I get cancer. Now I have to take public transportation all the way to Ward 5 for my medicine. Man, why does bad stuff always happen to me?

  • Tom

    Its just pretty simple, people dont want Pot in their own backyard. This should go into a realitively safe place like Ward 3, where there is less a chance of robbery

  • Mrs. D

    See my comment on the other article. It's not about the pot (for me, at least), but about more street-deadening things.

  • Nolan

    Cultivation centers don't bother me much (if you need land that's doesn't have a lot of neighbors to annoy, the industrial land in Ward 5 is really some of the best places for it), because as you point out, these aren't selling pot, they're just growing it.

    I'm mostly concerned about the kind of activity that a dispensary in Ward 5 would bring. I just can't imagine it not being a loitering ground for people who don't necessarily have a prescription for these things....

  • Joshua

    I'd much rather have a cultivation center down the street from me than, say, the Heritage Foundation.

  • Maya

    I'm a Ward 5 resident, and I am in favor of having cultivation centers here. There are a lot of unused or underused storefronts and former industrial areas in our neighborhoods that would be perfect for this purpose, and it is helping patients.

  • Kris

    It's hard to see why residents would be upset about this. There are dozens of unused warehouses in the neighborhood now. Abandoned buildings are a magnet for illicit drug use, crime, and vagrancy. The District has mandated extremely tight security protocols for all cultivation centers, so allowing a few to open in the neighborhood will result in a significant increase in public safety. I'd much rather have a cultivation facility with 360 degree panoramic cameras active 24/7, alarm systems, panic buttons, and uniformed security patrolling the area, than a neighborhood full of unused warehouses. Not to mention bringing jobs and tax revenue to the neighborhood. This seems like a no-brainer win for Ward 5.

  • Michael

    We're talking about brick buildings, that would otherwise be sitting empty, producing a plant that makes some very sick people feel a lot better. I am one of those people, and I am looking forward to having a safe place to get my weed.

  • Martin

    Is the Rand study still available? My understanding is that RAND took it down due to pressure from the local DA. A link to it would be great!

  • Lydia DePillis
  • MG

    It's great that lots of people who don't live in Ward 5 love this idea. Perhaps they should work to attract some marijuana to their Ward. If Ward 5 residents don't want it though, then I'm not sure why anyone else ought to be telling them that they have to have it. I don't know what Ward 5 residents want - but it seems to me that this is a decision that should be made by people who live there.

  • NE John

    Spread them around evenly, or near evenly. NW, SE and SW, FUK YOU! HTJ, FUK YOU!

  • NE John

    I swear to god Thomas, if I see your black ass, I will kick it across the city.

  • NE John

    It's not about crime. It is about the type of growth NE Washington had envisioned at one point (see, for example, the New York Avenue development concepts from about a decade ago), and what clustering will do to long range planning. This muther fukker Thomas does not see beyond the end of his nose, or past his wallet stuffed with city money!

    Thomas already bought in strip clubs to this area and now these warehouses. Even though existing properties have warehouses on them, clustering would prevent these areas from being developed into better uses, such as high density tax paying residents.

    Spread them around so no one area is more adversely affected, in this fashion, than another!

    And fuk you harry

  • Cap City Records Panhandler

    DC isn't Denver.

    No matter what residential 'hood (from Brandywine Street NW to Brandywine Street SE/SW) you put these weed spots in wild yungins and old-time get-get artists will run up in there ready for action. The city has gotten pretty damn soft with all these white and black pink people moving in (who *most* fall head over heels for their neighborhoods only when they discover each other), but there are still folks who know what time it is in the cut. They are still here or not too far over the line in PG.

    The most sensible thing to do would be to put these weed spots somewhere downtown in the 5th floor or somewhere. It would be controlled access and a little harder to run up in but this will never happen for many reasons.

    Legalize and tax but then what would happen to the stock of Corrections Corporation of America? http://finance.yahoo.com/q?s=CXW&ql=1

    And law enforcement in some places accounts for more than 1/10th of municipal budgets. Legalize weed and people are out of jobs.

  • er

    "I have no idea why a neighborhood wouldn't welcome a weed cluster. "

    you could ask them.

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