City council approves location for marijuana dispensary near East Bay high school

MARTINEZ, Calif. (KGO) -- The Martinez City Council approved a proposed location for a marijuana dispensary.

The city council approved the location in a 3-1 vote Wednesday night.

Residents that spoke during the public hearing portion stressed that they are not against having a commercial cannabis business in Martinez, but they are against the location.

"I am not against cannabis dispensaries or the placement in Martinez, I am against where it is placed," said one resident.

Another said, "It's the location, and that's the deal-breaker."

Speaker after speaker addressed the Martinez City Council, the majority speaking out against the location of a proposed marijuana dispensary.

"Retail cannabis does not have to be in such close proximity to our schools," said Martinez Unified School District Superintendent CJ Cammack.

Superintendent Cammack says the proposed location of the dispensary off 3501 Alhambra Avenue borders the property of Martinez Adult Education and is located just a couple of blocks from Alhambra High School.

"The school district is not asking the city to say no in total, the school district is merely asking that if they're going to say yes- they find a different location," said Superintendent Cammack.

"In prior years, on our Martinez adult school campus, we've housed a preschool," Cammack added. "And in prior years we've also used that parking lot at the Martinez adult school for our overflow parking for our high school students."

He's concerned the dispensary will be somewhat of a distraction to students at the adult school that are as young as 18 years-old, especially with recent issues of vaping.

"The state regulation stipulates that a school is defined as k-12 programs," Cammack said. "And because our school is not kinder through 12th grade, it's in my opinion a loophole."

Leading the dispensary team is the son of former Congressman George Miller. He says they've done their due diligence to mitigate and address concerns from the city and the school district.

"I want you to understand, that unlike a liquor store, unlike a grocery store that sells alcohol and tobacco, nobody, nobody can get in that is underage," said George Miller IV, Owner 'Embarc Martinez.'

On Nov. 20, 2019 city council members selected Embarc Martinez as one of four finalists seeking conditional use permit.

The proposed dispensary, Embarc Martinez will have parking control and strong security. But the school district says that's not enough.

"Our concern is that if there is such a need for a comprehensive security program, by definition it creates a risk for our neighboring school," said Superintendent Cammack.

The city council awarded the dispensary a conditional certificate that will be good for one year, so council members said they'll see how this commercial cannabis business will do.

George Miller, who's leading this charge says his family has strong roots in this community.

He assures the concerned residents and school staff that they will do everything they can to be a positive addition to the community.

6% of the revenue from the dispensary will go to the city of Martinez.
Copyright © 2020 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.