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New Round of Grass Prohibition Likely at City Council Tuesday 1-12
by Robert Norse
Tuesday Jan 5th, 2010 12:29 PM
The Planning Commission passed 5-2 a new medical marijuana dispensary ban recommendation in mid-November, essentially rubberstamping the staff's proposal. It mirrors the Reefer Madness hysteria of other cities, eager to demonize and limit marijuana sales. It also grants an effective monopoly to the two current marijuana clubs, who, to their discredit, supported this ban.
Last week a local attorney, interested in supporting a small medical marijuana dispensing service, advised me that the Planning Department and City Council planned to put the new medical marijuana dispensary ban on the first agenda of the New Year (1-12). The agenda comes out on Thursday (1-7) so check then on the city's website to see if this will actually be the case.

More background can be found at

"Thursday (11-19) Planning Commission May Seal Fate of New Medical Grass Clubs"
http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2009/11/17/18628995.php

"New Medical Marijuana Dispensary Prohibition Being Rushed Through Tuesday at City Council " http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2009/06/20/18603119.php?show_comments=1#18604725

Councilmembers Rotkin and Lane, while supporting an earlier "emergency moratorium" (without any findings of why new marijuana clubs constituted an emergency), reported in the Santa Cruz Weekly that they would favor perhaps "allowing" one or two more clubs to open.
[See "Bud Boundaries" at http://www.metrosantacruz.com/metro-santa-cruz/11.25.09/news2-0947.html ]

Other cities are mirroring Santa Cruz's neo-Prohibitionist tactics [See "Oakdale moves ahead with medipot dispensary ordinance " at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2010/01/04/18634325.php ]

I've extensively covered the issue on Free Radio (go to http://www.huffsantacruz.org, search for "Descriptions of Bathrobespierre's Broadsides", then search for "medical marijuana dispensary ban" for audio of some of the Council and Planning Commission hearings).

For detailed and informative local coverage, see J. Craig Canada's articles at http://www.examiner.com/x-14883-Santa-Cruz-County-Drug-Policy-Examiner

City Council phone in number is 831-420-5030. You can e-mail them at citycouncil [at] ci.santa-cruz.ca.us .
§Not on the January 12th Agenda
by Robert Norse Friday Jan 8th, 2010 1:58 PM
The City Council agenda, released yesterday, indicates that the Dispensary Ban will NOT be onthe agenda, as suggested by the attorney who contacted me. (http://64.175.136.240/sirepub/pubmtgframe.aspx?meetid=162&doctype=AGENDA )

This was confirmed last night by Mayor Rotkin who had a brief interview with me on Free radio (http://www.radiolibre.org/brb/brb100107.mp3 --download and go the last 1/3 of the audio file).

It's hard to know whether the two existing dispensaries are "meeting the needs of Santa Cruz" based on the peculiar finding that only 25% of their customers are from inside the city (or is it the county?). That seems to me a pretext rather than a good reason to limit dispensaries, and no evidence that local need is being met is actually provided. The claim is simply asserted--in the face of testimony from others that it isn't. It may be that folks from out of city (or county) are just richer and able to buy more, plus other cities like populous San Jose have only recently opened dispensaries.

In any case, should the same standard be used for liquor stores, bars, pharmacies, and other retail businesses? "We won't give allow you to open up because so much of your business comes from out of town!" Such a position would be laughed off the agenda and roundly denounced by the Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Association, etc. However because of the paranoia and prejudice against marijuana, it takes tangible and credible form in some minds. The Planning Department, the Planning commission, and the City Council is pandering those those unjustified apprehensions.

Rotkin continues to back to Reefer Madness notion that we have to pander to the "perception", the "fear" that allowing additional dispensaries (in the extremely restricted areas allowed under the 2000 ordinance) would "create a bad image".

While Rotkin says he supports legalizing marijuana, I don't seem him bringing up the issue at City Council. His "Office of Compassionate Use", set up to provide low-cost marijuana, is still a dead letter. He had no objection to the neutering of Measure K (which did provide oversight to ensure police made marijuana possession on private property in the city the lowest enforcement priority) in May of 2007. He has expressed no concern at the rise in marijuana busts and the use of felony charges against small dealers downtown.

Full disclosure: his position is like that of every other city council member, but Rotkin claims to be a socialist and postures up at the university as some kind of enlightened activist.

Rotkin suggested the New Dispensary Ban might be on the second January agenda (1-26), but wasn't clear or sure about it.

There's more time to organize against this Planning Department-orchestrated Ban if people want to do so.