Like any other business, the owners of Dispensaries Calgary face many challenges getting their businesses off the ground. Unlike more traditional establishments, these entrepreneurs often deal with greater difficulties getting needed business services and handling negative public opinion.
In the ultimate case of NIMBY – not in my back yard – purveyors of medical marijuana dispensaries find it difficult to get leases in more affluent areas and find themselves relegated to less desirable locations, increasing their likelihood of facing break-ins and robberies. People want medical marijuana to be available to card carrying patients, but they don’t want to have the stores in their neighborhoods.
Break-Ins Can Occur Anywhere
In two recent incidents the motivation remained the same – obtaining marijuana. A dispensary in Colorado Springs has had its dumpster stolen several times in recent days. Thieves used bolt cutters to open the trash receptacle hoping to find marijuana debris. Trash has been left on neighboring trails and in parks.
In Langley, BC a man who grew medical marijuana legally at his home opened his door to help two men claiming to have car trouble. They pushed him into his home, brandished a knife and gun, tied him up and blindfolded him, and then proceeded to rob the home and cut down his marijuana plants. They left, stealing both his vehicles.
Legitimate Business Services Would Help Entrepreneurs
While there isn’t much that banks or merchant account providers could do for domestic growers, for dispensaries, obtaining the same scale of business services available to other companies would help reduce the attraction of such storefronts to burglars and petty thieves. Aside from the attraction of marijuana on the premises, it is often the availability of so much untraceable cash that makes MMJ dispensaries so appealing.
Owners have found that when they are able to process transactions by credit card, clients prefer to pay that way. With little cash on hand, vulnerability of a location decreases dramatically.
The problems behind getting such services lay in the fact that while some state governments have legalized the sale of medical marijuana to card carrying individuals, the federal government hasn’t accepted marijuana as a state issue. On the federal level pot remains illegal, and banks are dependent upon the FDIC to insure their account holders, and are required to follow numerous federal regulations.
What Does the Future Hold?
There is really no way to anticipate how the fight to fully legalize marijuana will go. Some cities which already approved the sale of MMJ are trying to backtrack; others are striving to improve service and availability. The best example of such a situation historically is the re-legalization of alcohol after prohibition. Crimes surrounding the sale decreased dramatically.
After decades of bad publicity and scare tactics, medical marijuana has been legalized in 15 states and the District of Columbia. While many other states are considering joining the medical marijuana bandwagon, the federal government is stuck on the fence, unsure of what to do.
Unfortunately for those who find MMJ helpful in reducing symptoms or treating chronic pain, getting permission to use it is just the first step towards obtaining what they need, safely.
Not Everyone Has the Same Goals
Inevitably, when something such as marijuana is legalized there will always be those who try to use the new situation to their financial advantage. Such is the case of a Salem, Oregon man who was recently arrested for growing and selling pot. Facing six different charges, including selling within 1000 feet of a school, this individual had over 100 plants growing and was found with scales, packing materials and other tools used in distribution.
Most individuals who seek out a medical marijuana card, however, only want to grow enough for their own needs.
The Los Angeles Lottery
One of the many ways in which local municipalities are limiting the number of dispensaries within city limits is a lottery. In Los Angeles the solution which has been put forward is a lottery by which 100 dispensing permits will be assigned. 228 businesses qualified for the lottery and got their paperwork in by the deadline.
To date the exact method of the lottery and when it will be held is unknown. In the meanwhile, the 228 dispensaries will continue to operate. This is far less than the nearly 800 previously located around the city, many of which were shut down back in June 2010.
The goal is to limit the number of dispensaries and to disburse them equally around the city.
What Will the Future Bring?
For the vendors of medical marijuana, public opinion is just part of the puzzle. Even though the sale of marijuana, growing supplies and information is all legal in some states, federal law continues to prohibit it. That means that they often suffer when it comes to obtaining the business support they need to truly succeed.
Banks, merchant account providers and landlords are all reluctant to do business with individuals who run dispensaries. Creative applications stating that the store sells “supplements” or “vitamins” only go so far, and carry a certain risk if the true nature of the business is discovered. Many dispensary owners have found their bank accounts or merchant accounts closed overnight, leaving them without the infrastructure to run their business safely.