East Mt. Airy residents oppose medical marijuana dispensary

Support for medical marijuana may be growing in Pennsylvania and the nation but that doesn't mean homeowners want to see pot sold in their neighborhood.

Case in point? The planned TerraVida dispensary approved to open next January at Stenton Avenue and Allens Lane in Philadelphia's East Mt. Airy section.

The non-description, two-story building is almost half empty and pretty quiet for now. But those who live in the surrounding neighborhoods do not like what they see coming: more traffic, more trash, more crime and more drugs and no, not the medicinal kind.

"Our way of life is going to change as we know it," said longtime resident Denise Tutt. "It's going to be for the worse."

FOX 29's Bruce Gordon asked Tutt's neighbor whether he had a problem with the concept of medical marijuana.

"I don't," he responded with a chuckle. "But as long as it's not up here!"

Opponents of the TerraVida dispensary packed a special hearing of Philadelphia's Zoning Board of Adjustment, Tuesday asking the board to derail the dispensary's planned January opening.

"I believe they've taken us, absolutely, for granted," said Evelyn Gregory to reporters. " Why didn't (they) speak to the people in the neighborhood?"

That theme was repeated again and again during the nearly three hour session; that company officials went about their application process without first engaging those whose homes and lives might be negatively impacted.

"They did not come to the immediate community to talk to us," said resident Thomasina Washington.

TerraVida representatives admitted their communications were weak, but the company president insisted they will be a good neighbor.

"We believe that we will make the community more safe than it is now," said company president Chris Visco. "We believe that we're going to create a lot of high paying jobs in the community."

ZBA chairman Frank DiCicco ultimately continued the hearing till September, but not before warning TerraVida that their flight to open on Stenton Avenue will not be quick or easy.

"I know this community well," said DiCicco. " They're not going to give up."

The crowd roared its approval.