South LA dispensary manager: When pot shop ban comes down, crime will go up

July 25, 2012, 11:14 a.m.

Anthony Wooley is the manager of MCCG, a medical marijuana dispensary near the intersection of Broadway and 54th Street. (José Martinez/OnCentral)

The Los Angeles City Council voted to ban the sale of medical marijuana in retail establishments on Tuesday, and one South L.A. dispensary manager says crime will go up because of it.

Anthony Wooley manages MCCG, a medical marijuana provider near the intersection of Broadway and 54th Street. He said many of his patients are disabled or have cancer.

"It's a lot of people with a whole lot of problems they need the medicine for," he said.

MCCG, an acronym for Millennium Concept Care Givers, was established in 2003 "way before the moratorium" on medical marijuana dispensaries, said Wooley. The shop's been at its current location for about a year and Wooley estimates MCCG serves around 35 customers, whom he calls "patients."

"We're just a mom-and-pop," he said. As far as the City Council's decision, Wooley noted it was an election year.

"A lot of them are trying to make statements, or whatever they're trying to do," he said. "But it isn't right at the same time because what – they're going to let the patients roam the streets to get their medicine now? Crime's really going to go up – robbery, all that. That's going to go up. A lot of people need their medicine, but apparently, they don't care."

The council approved the prohibition in a 14-0 vote, continuing to allow for patients to grow their own marijuana and for primary caregivers to distribute the drug.

They councilmembers also voted 9-5 to look at how 182 clinics that registered with the city prior to 2007 could one day be reopened. According to Wooley, MCCG falls into that category.

But for now, L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has 10 days to sign off on the law, which he is expected to do. The ban will take effect 30 days thereafter.

Wooley acknowledged that the fate of the city's dispensaries, at least for now, was in the mayor's hands.

"We've just got to wait and see what's going on," he said. "But if they do shut us down, I don't know. Patients are going to be out here, left to deal with what's going on out here in the streets."

"Crime is going to go up, basically," Wooley continued. "You're going to have a lot of people doing a whole lot of stupid stuff to get their medicine."

For now, Wooley's just waiting to see what the mayor does.

"I think we'll be back open. I'm not sure what capacity – it might be temporary. It might not happen. I don't know," he said. "Other than that, right now, it's just business as usual until we hear different."

Stories nearby