A home off Galveston Avenue in northwest Bend is being transformed into a new recreational marijuana shop. It’s located just a few feet from a pre-school and day care, sparking concern and even outrage from some area neighbors and businesses.
“I’m a parent myself of a 3-year-old, so I can completely see their concern,” Diamond Tree marijuana dispensary owner Sam Stapleton said Friday.
Stapleton, who has another medical marijuana shop in east Bend, said he’s rushing to complete the renovations so he can sell recreational marijuana in the shop by the Oct. 1 statewide roll-out date.
“We’re not going to negatively impact the day care,” Stapleton said. “There are a number of businesses (by the day care) where you’re allowed to be outside and consuming alcohol. And at Diamond Tree, that’s just not going to happen — we’re going to be a stop-and-go type of shop, and a really tight ship.”
Those reassurances don’t comfort some of his closest neighbors, who are upset the city of Bend approved the location.
‘This neighborhood is such a family neighborhood — there’s a pre-school on the next property line over,” said Dr. Evelyn Brust, who owns a family health practice next door to Diamond Tree’s new location.
The day care, Westside Shorty’s, did not want to comment for this story.
Other neighbors, including Brust, told NewsChannel 21 they are not against legal marijuana, but are very concerned with the location.
“I will be asking the police to be driving by a lot more often — it’s a safety issue,” Brust said.
The new shop will be perfectly legal. State law says recreational marijuana facilities are banned within 1,000 feet of a school — but that rule does not apply to private child care facilities like Westside Shorty’s.
Stapleton acknowledged his store is just barely legal — 1,002 feet from another public school.
Officials with the city told NewsChannel 21 the store has been approved and has all necessary permits.
Stapleton said those in the marijuana business know better than to test the system, as he believes his company is scrutinized more heavily than others.
“Being someone that knows the industry and knows how we operate — the amount of restrictions and rules we have to follow — not allowing people to loiter or even smoke cigarettes outside,” Stapleton said.
Although the city of Bend has so far not added any of its own rules regulating time, place and manner of marijuana, Stapleton said councilors could do so, but he’s willing to take the risk for the prime location.
“You have the best restaurants, best food carts, the best brunch spots, some of the wildest bars, fast-food,” he said. “We think that having a marijuana dispensary here is going to do really well.”
Whether they’ll win over the worried neighbors, only time will tell.
“I think it’s something that should not have happened,” Brust said. “What my concern is, as a physician, as a parent, as a Bend resident, is that we do our due diligence and we take a moral high-ground, in terms of saying where these businesses and facilities can operate.”
Stapleton hopes she’ll change her mind once the store is up and running.
“We hope that our neighbors give us a fair chance,” Stapleton said. “We think we’ll be a really good fit for Galveston.”