Fake Pot Crime Stats Continue to Gall Police Commissioner, Cannabis Patients

Categories: Marijuana
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Giving the green light
Petra DeJesus isn't angry -- she's just frustrated.

The criminal defense attorney and San Francisco Police Commissioner last year publicly remonstrated then-Captain Denise Schmitt of the SFPD's Taraval Station for Schmitt's claims that medical cannabis dispensaries cause crime, ranging from "strong-arm robberies" to "homicides."

DeJesus asked Schmitt, now an assistant chief, and a rumored favorite to ascend to the top cop position, to corroborate her claims with statistics.

She couldn't do it.

DeJesus then asked Schmitt's then-boss, former police Chief George Gascón, to either back up the stats or back off the issue. Gascón angrily told DeJesus that he'd check into it...and then didn't.

None of this would matter if those fake stats had gone away. But they haven't. They're scheduled to be entered into the record again tonight, as part of a Board of Appeals ruling that a medical cannabis dispensary cannot open up at 31st Avenue and Taraval Street in the Sunset District.

Guns kill, not joints
That the Board of Appeals -- which consists of three lawyers, a banker and an architect -- would accept Schmitt's claims as gospel shocks DeJesus.

"These statistics are intellectually dishonest," said DeJesus, who sent a letter to the Board of Appeals asking that the crime claims be struck from the record. "The truth is that medical dispensaries don't cause anymore crime than what's already in the neighborhood... it's a little shocking that the [Board of Appeals] would take these stats as truth without looking into them."

The cannabis dispensary's saga is a long one that's been widely reported by SF Weekly. To quickly recap: In November 2009, a trio of partners applied for a permit to dispense cannabis at 2139 Taraval Street. They received the permit in May 2010. Neighbors, who were organized and led by Supervisor Carmen Chu, appealed the decision and won. The dispensary's permit was revoked in November 2010.

Tonight, partners in Bay Area Compassionate Health Center (or BACH) will try to get their permit reinstated.

Neither Chu nor her legislative aide responded to an e-mail seeking comment. Cynthia Goldstein, who handles paperwork for the Board of Appeals, said that DeJesus' letter hadn't yet reached board members, and probably won't until they arrive at City Hall this afternoon for the hearing.

Attorney Derek St. Pierre, who will argue on BACH's behalf at tonight's hearing, says that "from the beginning, the appellants have been relying on misinformation to push their case forward. Hopefully, the Board of Appeals won't continue to rely on this document, which is of questionable value, in making their decision."

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