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Afternoon Vote on New Medical Marijuana Dispensary Ban Coming Up at Tuesday City Council
by Robert Norse ( rnorse3@hotmail. com )
Monday Mar 8th, 2010 9:47 PM
Backing the “Marijuana as Menace” mentality of the Planning Department, Planning Commission, and prior City Council votes, city staff recommends voting for a total ban on any new medical marijuana dispensaries, giving Greenway and Limekiln, the existing two clubs a monopoly status. There is no examination of either club's prices, nor of complaints against the club by low-income customers who have been unsatisfied or turned away. Marijuana clubs are treated as some sort of dangerous hot potato, more lethal than alcohol or tobacco outlets or pharmacies—which vend far more lethal wares.
The Rotkin-Coonerty City Council continues its rightward retrenching by agenda-izing Item #17 Medical Marijuana Dispensaries and Personal Medical Marijuana Use Ordinances. (PL) on the sparsely attended afternoon session 3 PM (probably closer to 3:30 PM or thereafter) on 3-9-10. There will be no evening session. Though the law will have a second reading and vote in two weeks, any meaningful discussion (which is unlikely at this point anyway) needs to happen on the First Reading, since the Council is loath to make changes after it votes the initial law.

The City Council's agenda now officially states that 2 minutes is the standard time period for any discussion. However if you are representing an organization, you should contact Mayor Rotkin by phone (420-5020) or e-mail mrotkin [at] ci.santa-cruz.ca.us) and inform him you want 5 minutes.

Under the New Prohibition, only Limekiln and Greenway, the two existing clubs, are allowed to have grow houses. Limekiln and Greenway both ban ingesting, smoking, vaporizing, or eating medication on the PUBLIC property within 50' of their establishment and throughout Harvey West Park. Greenway has the decency to clarify that this is a City Council-demanded condition. No smoking, ingestion, etc. is allowed on the site—a condition applied to no other medication. This is clearly an absurd application of the Reefer Madness stereotype that marijuana is particularly dangerous.

There is also apparently a City Council legal requirement that the clubs not only revoke purchasing privileges for those who dare to avail themselves of the protections of Proposition 215 and medicate publicly when they need to nearby. They also state they “inform state agencies” for further punitive action, as apparently directed by further City Council requirement (the liberal Rotkin strikes again!).

Cellphones, computers and cameras are banned—a condition not required by City Council's absurd prior ordinances. Homeless customers with backpacks carrying their possessions may be significantly disadvantaged or discouraged by a “no backpacks” requirement.

Though the new law specifically bans any new clubs, it makes doubly sure the horse is dead by specifying the entire city is a banned areas for dispensaries—except for two small zones on Delaware and Harvey West, zones apparently expanded to cater to the bigotry and paranoia of some businesses and residents.

No survey has been done of existing need, i.e. how many patients choose to go outside the city to buy their medicine because of the prices, quality, or policies of the existing clubs. Nor is there any indication of why stats showing a significant number of purchasers come from outside the city has any relevance (why isn't this criteria applied to bars, 7-11s, drug stores, and pharmacies to restrict them?).

The staff report, proposed law, club rules, grim city prohibition map, and a few other items are available on line at http://64.175.136.240/sirepub/pubmtgframe.aspx?meetid=166&doctype=AGENDA .

My previous comments on this Drug Prohibition War attack on medical marijuana can be read at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2010/01/26/18636269.php (“Moratorium for New Medical Marijuana Shops in SC Just Another "Reefer Madness" Ploy”­).

Some radio discussion of the Council's unanimous vote for extending the temporary ban on new distribution centers can be found at http://www.radiolibre.org/brb/brb100207.mp3 . (about 1/3 of the way through the audio file).
Craig Canada has written some penetrating analysis of the broader medical marijuana situation in his periodic columns at http://www.examiner.com/x-14883-Santa-Cruz-County-Drug-Policy-Examiner and his blog http://www.palmspringsbum.org/medical.html . He hasn't written much this year but hopefully will do so.

Homeless activist Becky Johnson has also written on the subject (and reprinted Craig's most recent article) at http://beckyjohnsononewomantalking.blogspot.com/search/label/medical%20marijuana .
City council can be contacted at http://beckyjohnsononewomantalking.blogspot.com/search/label/medical%20marijuana .

As mentioned above, the actual law needs two readings, so this first quick-and-dirty passage will be followed in two weeks by an inevitable second death knell. In theory, massive citizen protest or better still, direct action (perhaps a smoke in?) might have some impact. Use whatever tools you find most congenial to raise the roof about the New Marijuana Prohibition law coming our way.

For those interested in the City's Measure K Commission's twice-a-year joke meeting, I was informed by Tina Shull, the Prohibitionist fox-in-the-chicken house staffer who really runs the meetings, that their equipment broke down and they have no recording of their last January meeting. Commissioner Anita Henry did announce on air that marijuana busts had gone up significantly in the last six months locally, but the police were not providing reports so that Commissioners could determine if marijuana busts were being made the lowest enforcement priority, as required by the voters in 2006.