Facing possible ballot measures that would force legalization in their communities, some cities have urged voters to wait and see how the dispensaries perform elsewhere. They’ve also cited public testimony from former San Diego Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman, who warned the City Council that the negative impacts of marijuana businesses are “enormous.”
A Voice of San Diego review of emergency calls between January and June 2018 — which include basic details of the time and location and brief descriptions of what happened — suggests that authorities respond to one of the city’s legal dispensaries about three times per week. Considering that the city has 13 licensed storefronts, that’s an average of about one call per dispensary per month.
The volume of calls was not evenly distributed. Some dispensaries appeared in a dozen dispatches. Others, like the Apothekare in Mission Valley and Goldn Bloom in Stockton, were responsible for a single call during roughly the first six months of the year. One call involved a stolen dockless bike and the other a suspicious-looking vehicle in the area.
Indeed, most of the requests for police assistance were low-priority and included mundane stuff like false security alarms and calls from mentally ill people who hung up on authorities. “Chronic caller mumbling about monsters,” reads one report. Another says, “Rambling about Obama.”
Both those conversations came from public payphones. In fact, most calls to authorities appear to have come from the general area of a dispensary and not necessarily from a dispensary itself. Several of those businesses sit in busy shopping malls, surrounded by other retail shops and fast-food restaurants.
In only about a third of the calls, it’s clear that a marijuana customer or employee was either the caller or the subject of a complaint, according to the VOSD analysis. That equates, on average, to about one call per dispensary every three months.