LA Dispensary Operator Gets Involved with Local Politics
the420times | Sep 11, 2012 | Comments 0
With a city council that seems oblivious to Prop. 215, and recent court decisions regarding banning collectives and dispensaries, a local dispensary operator has decided to get involved with governance by running for a seat on the neighborhood council of Studio City. Studio City is a part of the City of Los Angeles in California. The neighborhood councils offer advice and opinion to the City Council on budgets, safety and quality of life issues for the residents.
We caught up with Sam the other day to get a quick Q&A with the candidate.
What made you run?
I chose to run for Studio City Neighborhood Council (SCNC) for a number of reasons. First and foremost, as a citizen of the United States I feel everyone should make a personal sacrifice for civic duty. Whether one joins the military, volunteers time to charity, sponsors a local youth sports team or holds an elected position, everyone should do their part to nurture community relations.
Another inspiration for running for office is because our society needs to do an about face. In today’s “ME Society,” meaningful face to face human interactions are becoming less frequent. We are obsessed with gadgets that distract us from the real issues surrounding our world and we sleep soundly assuming someone will take care of everything for us. The corporations who numb our intelligence with meaningless information also fund the lobbyists and special interest groups which dictate the laws and regulations we are to live by. The power of the people is losing stamina and soon we will be nothing more than “Sheeple;” slaves to the corporate bottom line.
Finally, at 37 years old I will be the youngest stakeholder on the council, aside from the youth member. Without a voice that can bridge the gap between the current guard and future leaders, Los Angeles will continue to be governed by antiquated ideologies.
Was there a turning point for you to get involved with local civics?
Yes. In early January 2012, another poorly thought out cannabis dispensary opened its doors in Studio City. This new store brought the total number of dispensaries in Studio City to 13. The location this particular dispensary operator chose for his new store is high on a hill, with only 50+ steep stairs that require a Sherpa to lead you to the door. It was obvious to local residents and neighborhood council members, this store had no interest in serving disabled and sick patients. Adding fuel to the fire, this dispensary had an outside medicating area located less than 50 feet from the back yards of many residents. After many days of reliving the smells of Woodstock, the homeowners had enough. SCNC Vice President and Land Use Chairperson, Lisa Sarkin, fielded dozens of complaints about this dispensary and the medical cannabis dispensary issue in Studio City.
In late January, the SCNC Land Use Committee put medical cannabis dispensaries on the agenda. An outpouring of residents came out for and against medical cannabis dispensaries. Being the operator of the first dispensary registered in my council district (CD-2), I was at the Land Use Committee to ensure a witch hunt was not forming against me or my legitimate industry colleagues. During public comment, I identified myself as the operator of Perennial Holistic. I shared my frustrations with LA City Council allowing illegitimate dispensary operators to run amok. An impromptu yet open and revealing dialogue began between me and Neighborhood Council members which led to the formation of a Medical Cannabis Dispensary Advisory Committee. After submitting our committee findings to the SCNC, a vote was taken, and the Neighborhood Council decided NOT to support Councilman Huizar’s Gentle Ban. Although the political victory was great, bureaucracy reigns supreme and despite the SCNC voting not to support the ban, it does not mean they oppose the ban. A separate motion and vote would have had to been brought to oppose the Gentle Ban. This kind of illogical governance finalized my decision to enter the political arena.
How is your platform or views new — and why should potential voters become interested in your candidacy?
Many people may be surprised to see medical cannabis is not a vital part of my platform. Studio City has tens of thousands of residents and businesses and only 13 dispensaries. The ratio of serious issues surrounding our daily lives versus dispensaries puts medical cannabis at a middle level priority for me as a Neighborhood Council member. Sensible regulations are being worked on at the state and local levels by the Greater Los Angeles Collective Alliance, Americans for Safe Access and UFCW Local 770. But do not fear, as a member of the Neighborhood Council I will continue to be a conduit for the voice of safe and sensible access with permanent regulations.
Los Angeles operates in similar fashion to municipalities around California which continue blockading commercial growth and forcing the exportation of jobs, only to claim bankruptcy as the only way to save their forsaken city. Studio City is one of Los Angeles’s most dynamic suburbs, yet even here the quality of life is slipping. Our city is suffering from differed maintenance; civic projects remain incomplete, budgets for parks and environment are being cut, public safety is strained and simple solutions to complex problems are shunned in favor of bureaucracy.
The At-large Stakeholder brings a voice to government to anyone who has an interest in Studio City. As the At-large Stakeholder, I will bring the community together to promote action, not rhetoric. I will get people to come out and meet their neighbors, support local businesses, and bring a human energy back to Studio City. I will promote public interaction with government to inspire more people to get involved in local politics. This grassroots energy will turn complaints into solutions, and foster a real sense of community pride. I welcome everyone to visit my campaign website, www.Sam4SCNC.com and my bio page, www.Sam4SCNC.info for more details.
What kind of issues are typical for the neighborhood council — and what weight do they play with the City council?
Los Angeles has 15 Council Districts and 90 Neighborhood Councils within those districts. Neighborhood Councils receive $45,000/yr in public funds to support local activities. These may include creating events and programs that respond to the unique needs of their community. The Council also advocates on behalf of issues like crime, environment, streets and roads, economic development, and more.
Representatives from Neighborhood Councils meet with the Mayor to discuss priorities in the annual development of the City budget, prior to its submittal and approval by City Council. They also receive advance notice of issues and projects that are important to them and their neighborhoods so they can understand, discuss them, and voice the opinions of the neighborhood to the City before final decisions are made.
Are there other in the cannabis community that are getting involved? I know Frank Sheftel has run for council in the past….
I am not familiar with any other members of the cannabis community getting involved yet, but considering the landscape of the medical cannabis industry in Los Angeles, I will be very disappointed if more members of do not run for office. I know a representative from the Farmacy in West Hollywood ran for their Neighborhood Council in years past, unfortunately she only lost by 6 votes. This is why it is so important to come out and vote to ensure your voice is not shut out.
Studio City Neighborhood Council Election details for those interested:
Date: September 20, 2012
Time: 2:30PM – 8:30PM
Walter Reed Middle School, Auditorium Foyer
4525 Irvine Ave., North Hollywood, CA 91602
Anyone that has an interest in Studio City can vote in this Neighborhood Council election — no need to be a resident! Please visit www.EmpowerLA.org for exact voter details.