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Thursday (11-19) Planning Commission May Seal Fate of New Medical Grass Clubs
In a little-noticed hearing coming up Thursday November 19th at 7 PM at Santa Cruz City Hall Chambers, the Planning Commission will continue consideration of a staff-concocted ban on all additional marijuana clubs and growhouses in Santa Cruz. The meeting will be open to the public. Only one item will be on the agenda--the Marijuana Club Ban,--continued from an earlier Commission meeting two weeks ago. The Santa Cruz Sentinel completely ignored that meeting, but Don Miller, Sentinel editor, has promised to send a reporter to the upcoming meeting.
Sentinel coverage may be too late. A divided Commission did block the "Ban All New Clubs" proposal in a 3-3 vote at the 11-4 meeting--which gives some hope. If enough people attend the entrenched "Reefer Madness" Prohibitionists may be blocked from banning all new clubs.
For those under any illusions that "liberals" on the City Council will stop this, incoming Mayor Rotkin supported a summer "emergency moratorium" on new clubs and has given no indication he won't support a full ban of all new clubs.
The result of a New Club Ban would be to give a monopoly inside City limits to the two existing clubs-- Greenway Compassionate Relief Inc. and Santa Cruz Patients Collective. Both clubs have been charged with profiteering. There are also concerns of an inadequate supply of marijuana.
Profiteering charges and claims that Greenway has inadequately served the poor in spite of promises to do so have been leveled by marijuana activist and patient Craig Canada [See "Take a Letter" at http://palmspringsbum.blogspot.com/search/label/greenway on his extensive website]. Neither club has publicly opposed the effective killing of applications this sumemr in the "moratorium" passed by the City Council, nor spoken out against the upcoming Ban proposal. Why should they? It means more money for them.
Outside the City, the County hasn't adopted rules limiting retail outlets, but D.A. Bob Lee is undertaking his third prosecution of Roger Mentch and his Felton Hemporium, one of the few semi-retail outlets in Santa Cruz County. (See "Unwanted Raid yet again on Medical Marijuana" at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2009/02/27/18573755.php as well as "Local Harassment of Medical Marijuana Suppliers and Jury Nullification" at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2007/05/16/18417098.php ) Lee's theory is that all retail clubs are illegal unless they are collectives or cooepratives. He apparently avoids going after Greenway and the SCPC so as not to ruffle the feathers of city politicians.
Many more details on the Planning Commission meeting and deeper background can be found at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2009/11/17/18628969.php
It would be great if someone videotaped this meeting as the debate may be a crucial one.