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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.

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by candace
Thursday Jan 7th, 2010 2:43 PM
this isn't news reporting. this is a one-sided scathing critique of the city administration.

santa cruz is doing its part to provide marijuana to its citizens. according to the metro santa cruz article, the SCPC and greenway say that 25% of their business are santa cruz residents. that means 75% of their customers do not live in the area. santa cruz does not need the huge influx of people coming into our town to buy pot. the ban ensures that santa cruz does not become the regional hub for pot sales.

true, there is the added benefit that scpc and greenway gain a monopoly on the area. however, it is not greenway and scpc's job to provide for everyone. i'm sure that scpc and greenway are also looking to limit their sales as well, as it is the discreet cannabis cooperatives that survive. the raids have not ended.
by Magritte
Thursday Jan 7th, 2010 7:55 PM
The ban ensures that medicinal cannabis will be difficult to obtain for Santa Cruz patients without a car. Frankly, it is intimidating and often dangerous to cross Highway 1 from River Street towards Highway 9 while walking or biking.

Try picking up your medicine each week in the Harvey West area while using a walker or wheelchair.

Santa Cruz patients need medicinal cannabis dispensaries that are easily accessible and on major bus routes.

Why is the City of Santa Cruz forcing patients into this industrial part of town to obtain their medicine?
by sclocal
Friday Jan 8th, 2010 12:12 PM
What a load of crap. Why is it the council represents the old conservative values and money in this town that is arguably progressive? The pot store thing an emergency amidst increased violence, poverty, budgetary issues and homelessness seems like an absurd sense of priorities.

When trying to look for information this week (both about recycling and this issue) the city web site has been down all week, what the hell is up with that? I work for UCSC IT and someone would be fired if the main site went down for that long, and it wouldn't. Can you say un professional? All about priories I reckon and probably easier to get shit done without anyone informed!

Being one who frequents the dispensaries I hate knowing that because of the lack of competition it's more cost effective to buy stuff illegally or drive to the city where prices are lower, due to competition. I wonder who knows whom that is allowing this to occur? What is the real concern? Do we not want affordable pot in SC? Do we really need to rehash why pot shouldn't be something to consider a threat to society? Is it 2010 or 1980? It's time the citizens put in more effort for local elections and get a council that actually represents the majority, not the old crusty minority to whom most of us give half our pay checks to in order to live here.
many cities have medical cannabis ordinances that prevent dispensaries from operating within a half mile of schools. this should be obvious as to why this is. due to the high density of santa cruz, the location of a dispensary in the city would be nearly impossible.

let's not forget history: it took SCPC over a year to get their license, with the reasons being local opposition from businesses (costco being chief among them, and santa cruz will bow down to them, being the #1 contributor of tax revenue in the city) and local residences.

the scmtd has routes that go that way, the #35 goes there if i am not mistaken. in addition, i believe WAMM delivers (though i am not 100% positive) why not petition scpc and greenway for a delivery service? going even further, SB 420 allows for a caregiver to retrieve the medication for the patient.

medical cannabis is complicated. of course, it would just be easier if california seceded and the drug war ended just like that, but hmmm.