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Santa Cruz City Council Votes to Ban Additional Medical Marijuana Dispensaries
by ~Bradley ( bradley [at] riseup.net )
Tuesday Mar 9th, 2010 6:57 PM
On Tuesday, March 9th, the Santa Cruz City Council voted 6-0 to support a recommendation from the city staff which bans the opening of an additional medical marijuana dispensary in Santa Cruz. This was the first reading of the vote and there will be a second vote in two weeks to finalize the ruling.
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The city staff and council are recommending 2,000 square feet of cultivation space for the two existing medical marijuana facilities. There are a lot of details and considerations in regards to the number of 2,000 square feet. It is acknowledged that 2,000 square feet is not nearly enough space to serve the needs of Santa Cruz patients. Ken Sampson from the Santa Cruz Patients Collective (SCPC) stated that due to the techniques of indoor marijuana cultivation, only about 500 of 2,000 square feet would be used for blooming plants.

Tony Madrigal made a motion to allow for more time and community input before the first round of voting was done. The motion did not receive a second. The third applicant asked about his application fees being returned to him.

Don Lane has concern that the 2,000 square feet growing space will be very constrained after American with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance and many other considerations. The city is now discussing 2,000 square feet of plant canopy, as opposed to 2,000 square feet of total space, which would include aisle-ways and other areas where plants are not growing. The council indicates that they would rather raise the growing area limit to 3,000 square feet as opposed to trying to regulate 2,000 square feet of canopy space. Cynthia Matthews and Mike Rotkin stated it would be too difficult to have dispensaries submit their floor plans and then try to monitor their canopy space.

An amendment to the motion was made by Tony Madrigal, and passed 4-2, to allow for 3,000 square feet of grow space, which must be ADA compliant.

A motion was passed 6-0 to:
* Limit the number of dispensaries to two.
* Allow for 3,000 square feet of growing space to the two existing dispensaries
* Refund the fees already paid by the third applicant

http://bradleystuart.net
§Table Four by Santa Cruz City Staff
by ~Bradley Tuesday Mar 9th, 2010 10:19 PM
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Staff for the City of Santa Cruz prepared a slideshow to advocate for limiting the number of medical marijuana dispensaries in Santa Cruz to the two existing dispensaries located in the industrial Harvey West district.
§600 foot setback
by ~Bradley Tuesday Mar 9th, 2010 10:27 PM
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This is a map of the westside of Santa Cruz. An applicant for a third medical marijuana dispensary in Santa Cruz had proposed a location on Ingalls Street within the blue industrial area.
§Santa Cruz City Council and Staff
by ~Bradley Tuesday Mar 9th, 2010 10:38 PM
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Left to Right: The Staff member who presented the slideshow, Assistant City Manager Martin Bernal, City Manager Dick Wilson, City Councilmembers: Cynthia Matthews, Don Lane, Ryan Coonerty (who left the meeting early before a vote a taken, stating family obligations), Mayor Mike Rotkin, Lynn Robinson, Tony Madrigal, and Katherine Beiers (partially visible behind a staff member), and two more staff members, City Clerk Lorrie Brewer and Deputy City Clerk Tom Graves.
§Public Benefit
by ~Bradley Tuesday Mar 9th, 2010 10:40 PM
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§Performance Standards
by ~Bradley Tuesday Mar 9th, 2010 10:42 PM
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§Marijuana Policy Project
by ~Bradley Tuesday Mar 9th, 2010 10:44 PM
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§Santa Cruz City Council meeting
by ~Bradley Tuesday Mar 9th, 2010 10:44 PM
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§State Law
by ~Bradley Tuesday Mar 9th, 2010 10:45 PM
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§Annual Reports
by ~Bradley Tuesday Mar 9th, 2010 10:46 PM
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§Don Dibble: It's a Witch-Hunt
by ~Bradley Tuesday Mar 9th, 2010 10:52 PM
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Don stated that this discussion of limiting medical marijuana dispensaries is a witch-hunt. He further said that there should be more than two medical marijuana dispensaries, otherwise you end up with a situation of collusion and monopoly.
§Suzanne Pfeil
by ~Bradley Tuesday Mar 9th, 2010 10:59 PM
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On September 5th, 2002, Suzanne Pfeil was asleep in her assisted living hospice, the Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana (WAMM), when more than 20 armed federal agents stormed into the home and held an assault rifle to her head.

Pfeil suffers from post-polio syndrome and is paraplegic. The police officers ordered her to stand, despite the fact that her leg braces and crutches were in plain view. Pfeil tried to explain that she couldn't stand, but the agents handcuffed her behind her back and left her on the bed for several hours.

WAMM was, and is, well-known as a medical marijuana collective and hospice that strictly abides by California state laws regarding medical marijuana.
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§Valerie Corral, Co-founder and Executive Director of WAMM
by ~Bradley Tuesday Mar 9th, 2010 11:05 PM
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Valerie was a key-player in the crafting and passage of Proposition 215 (also known as the Compassionate Use Act of 1996), which allowed patients with a doctors recommendation to use marijuana medicinally.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valerie_Corral
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Greenway Compassionate Relief was Santa Cruz County's first medical cannabis dispensary and the first "licensed" dispensary in the state. Lisa raised a concern regarding section 6.9 of the proposed regulation. She feels that compliance records should be handled through a CPA, as opposed to the city. Lisa was also concerned about patient privacy and the extra cost burden maintaining more daily records, as proposed in the new ordinance. Lisa stated that Greenway is currently working towards, and hoping to become, a certified non-profit organization.

The man in the foreground has a sticker on his wheelchair that says: 'Pain Relief Is Not A Crime. WAMM'
§Third Applicant
by ~Bradley Tuesday Mar 9th, 2010 11:27 PM
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The third applicant wanted to agree to the new ordinance and be allowed to operate a model dispensary. He said that the new restrictions are a slap in the face to the medical marijuana community likened them to Jim Crowism. The applicant already invested a significant amount of time and money preparing to open a medical marijuana dispensary and said he was an upstanding community member.
§Kenny
by ~Bradley Tuesday Mar 9th, 2010 11:53 PM
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Kenny is a Santa Cruz westsider against the limitation to two medical marijuana dispensaries. He pointed out that in economics, this situation is considered an oligopoly.

From Wikipedia:
In Economics, an oligopoly is a market form in which a market or industry is dominated by a small number of sellers (oligopolists). Because there are few sellers, each oligopolist is likely to be aware of the actions of the others. The decisions of one firm influence, and are influenced by, the decisions of other firms. Strategic planning by oligopolists needs to take into account the likely responses of the other market participants.

Kenny compared the situation of permitting just two dispensaries in Santa Cruz to a 'mini-marijuana OPEC'

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oligopoly
§Analicia
by ~Bradley Wednesday Mar 10th, 2010 12:10 AM
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Analicia began by stating that she was not against medical marijuana, or even marijuana legalization. Then Analicia went on to present a ramble of facts she which seemed to be made up, inconsistent and contradictory. She finished by saying that the two existing dispensaries were plenty because 'you can stroll or walk to Harvey West.'

It's curious that Analicia began her reefer madness screed by saying she was 'not against medical marijuana, or even legalization' while her group, Take Back Santa Cruz, "has one goal and one goal only: To make the streets of Santa Cruz safe and free from drugs, gangs and abusive behavior." And TBSC is officially against any additional medical marijuana dispensaries in Santa Cruz. Analicia makes a dubious claim when she states that she is not against medical marijuana, or marijuana legalization.
§Cheryl supports WAMM
by ~Bradley Wednesday Mar 10th, 2010 12:13 AM
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§Ken Sampson, owner of Santa Cruz Patients Collective (SCPC)
by ~Bradley Wednesday Mar 10th, 2010 12:17 AM
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Ken said that he was there to serve patients and that he was not making a lot of money. He says that he and Greenway have been the victims of disinformation which he does not have the time to rebut.

Ken says that it has always been the goal of SCPC to provide the highest quality medicine at the lowest possible price. He says that things have changed a lot in a short amount of time, with 30 medical marijuana dispensaries recently opening in San Jose. Ken said that laxer polices and enforcement have led to an overall drop in market prices, and that he's been able to pass the savings on to the patients (or customers) he serves.
§Dexter
by ~Bradley Wednesday Mar 10th, 2010 12:41 AM
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While Dexter stood next in line to speak, he teased, or perhaps 'joked with' Michael Tomasi by blowing a kiss at him and saying "I love you man." Then Dexter began his reefer madness rant by saying, "I was not expecting to speak."

At the January 26 city council meeting, Dexter, a leader of the group Take Back Santa Cruz, railed against the ravages that a third medical marijuana dispensary would cause in Santa Cruz.

And again with this opportunity, Dexter gave his best shot at stringing together sentences, that were for the most part incomprehensible, with any scary sounding words he could come up with.
§Michael Tomasi
by ~Bradley Wednesday Mar 10th, 2010 12:46 AM
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Michael Tomasi began by clarifying that he is not a supporter of medical marijuana because marijuana should legal for everyone. If this was thirty years ago, he said he would be growing pot and making a profit. Mr. Tomasi said that Valerie Corral and other people that cultivate and distribute marijuana work very hard and they deserve to be making a profit. Mr. Tomasi said that he does not care about their marijuana laws and that he smokes pot everyday on the steps of the police station.
§Michael Corral
by ~Bradley Wednesday Mar 10th, 2010 12:52 AM
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Michael Corral, an expert witness in medical marijuana cases, spoke a second time in response to a question from Tony Madrigal. Mr. Corral wanted to offer a source for further information in regards to expected yield per square foot of cultivation area. He suggested a 1992 study done by the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) that takes into account stem and leaf when determining the weight of consumable marijuana bud.

Cannabis Yields 1992: Drug Enforcement Administration:
§Scott Wade, Security Director for Greenway
by ~Bradley Wednesday Mar 10th, 2010 12:58 AM
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Scott says, as a former policeman, he used to be against the use of marijuana, but now sees the medicinal benefits it provides. He also states that Greenway is an outstanding organization.
§Gloria
by ~Bradley Wednesday Mar 10th, 2010 1:04 AM
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Gloria is now, at the recommendation of her doctor, a qualified medical marijuana patient. Her doctor recommended marijuana to get her off of three pharmaceutical drugs, and it worked. However, Gloria says she was outraged by the high prices charged for medical marijuana. Fortunately, Gloria has been accepted as a member of WAMM and she is able to obtain her medicine at a more affordable rate in a dignified manner. Gloria said that she is against an ordinance that may place restrictions on any current or future activity by WAMM.

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by Robert Norse
Wednesday Mar 10th, 2010 12:04 AM
Nice set of photos and commentary, Bradley.

For more commentary on this see http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2010/03/08/18640346.php?show_comments=1#18640446

As mentioned there, I hope to be playing some audio of the "done deal" on Thursday evening shortly after 6 PM, and on Sunday morning at 10 AM.
by Robert Norse
Wednesday Mar 10th, 2010 8:39 PM
A deleted commentor said they'd voted for Proposition 215, supported legalizing marijuana, etc. but were concerned about profiteering at marijuana clubs, including Stuart Kriege's prospective club banned by City Council action. I have no evidence whether any of the clubs are profiteering, including his, though I suspect they (like all other business, including--and especially medical businesses) are.

Yes, that's a real problem. No, that's no reason to single out and demonize marijuana clubs.

I don't have any stats or reassurance (not any brief for profiteer middlemen making megabucks (including gangster growers). I oppose profiteering generally. But I don't think the City Council has a primary concern about profiteering or it would have been keeping much closer track of Greenway and Limekiln over the last 4-5 years. And i don't think most support for this new dispensary ban comes from those who are eager to see marijuana made available. Quite the opposite.

The City Council's ban (or its restrictive 2000 ordinance, for that matter) addresses profiteering or making marijuana available to those who need it at a cost they can afford. The supposed still-not-open Office of Compassionate Use was supposed to be supplying cheap marijuana to the poor remains a fantasy (though law passed in 2005).

I know that many I respect (such as Anita Henri of Med-Ex) are adamantly opposed to for-profit operations. I fear that Prohibitionists are using these arguments to make marijuana less accessible generally.

The problem may be partially solved if voters pass some kind of legalization measure in November state-wide, at least for those who have money, though that law has its own problems.

A primary, misleading, and ultimately irrelevant argument used by the Rotkin-Coonerty Council in passing this Planning Department-created Ban was that Santa Cruz City has "its share" of dispensaries and is adequately serving people. In comparison with other cities, in terms of the numbers of dispensaries there. However Santa Cruz COUNTY has two dispensaries: 1 dispensary for every 126,000 people. Another irrelevant argument never applied to anything but marijuana sales is the % of people coming in from out of city to buy. This is the ludicrous claim that it's inappropriate to serve a large tourist population! All of this is thinly disguised marijuana demonization, which the City Council has swallowed hook, line, and stinker.

Craig Canada's comments on the Sentinel website are interesting (http://www.indybay.org/comment.php?top_id=18640441).
He notes, of the two existing clubs, "There is no bus service to Harvey West at night or on the weekends. How are patients who work 8-5 M-F supposed to get there?"

Canada counters claims that Santa Cruz's new Ban is proportionate to what is being done elsewhere: "...Oakland has 4 dispensaries. San Francisco has 23. There are 30 dispensaries in Santa Clara County. West Hollywood, with a population of 34,675, has a "cap" of 7."

Another writer on the Sentinel topix claims "Oakland has 11, Berkeley has 4, Richmond has 5... "

In any case the point is, as a third writer notes,
"Santa Cruz should be a place where we as a community are striving to normalize how cannabis is treated in society. The more fuss, the harder it is to make cannabis production and distribution no more problematic than Walgreens selling Oxycontin.
"Santa Cruz should allow at least as many dispensaries as pharmacies. Even as many as off sale liquor licenses. The quality of the management and product will allow consuming patients to decide which dispensaries survive the competition.
"The fears expressed here are unfounded. Gangs do not have turf wars over cannabis distribution. Dispensaries don't sell imported cannabis. Who cares how many dispensaries per person there are? The market will work it out.

There is a second vote required on this bogus "emergency" Ban, coming up on March 25th probably. Those who want to can circulate petitions for a referendum on the Council vote and require an election. It would take about 6000 signatures (to get 4000 valid ones) of registered City Voters. Anyone interested?
by Watcher
Thursday Mar 11th, 2010 9:05 AM
Not sure why I was deleted, as I was merely asking questions, and made it clear I supported legal pot, but thanks for looking at my post before it was axed.

"A deleted commentor said they'd voted for Proposition 215, supported legalizing marijuana, etc. but were concerned about profiteering at marijuana clubs, including Stuart Kriege's prospective club banned by City Council action. I have no evidence whether any of the clubs are profiteering, including his, though I suspect they (like all other business, including--and especially medical businesses) are."

-That's the question I had. Craig Canada addressed the issue in the Sentinel threads by posting a link to the State Board of Equalization's policy on this. Sounds like they at least don't care about profit-making, but isn't that against Prop 215? Sounds like a grey area of government miscommunication between agencies.

Robert, you've probably read 215 (I would right now, but am very busy!), does it allow profit-making and those who are saying it doesn't just spreading disinfo? Like I said, I have QUESTIONS, and not assuming I know the answers to them!

"Yes, that's a real problem. No, that's no reason to single out and demonize marijuana clubs."

-I would agree. Like I said, I want it all legal. I just don't like the situation where certain people are making huge profits LEGALLY while others are rotting in prison. It's a disgrace. But if there is no clear mechanism for monitoring these clubs to make sure that they are in line with 215, it's hard to support them! Personally, I want the bill in November to pass so this whole argument becomes moot.

"But I don't think the City Council has a primary concern about profiteering or it would have been keeping much closer track of Greenway and Limekiln over the last 4-5 years. And i don't think most support for this new dispensary ban comes from those who are eager to see marijuana made available. Quite the opposite."

-Agreed.

"I know that many I respect (such as Anita Henri of Med-Ex) are adamantly opposed to for-profit operations. I fear that Prohibitionists are using these arguments to make marijuana less accessible generally."

-Also true. But they wouldn't be able to score points with that if there was something in place to make sure these clubs weren't ripping people off. For example, I've heard many bad things about Greenway, like that they skim all the crystals off the buds, and sell that as kif, while still selling the original buds at high rates. I've also heard that they only give away ditchweed to the poorest medical applicants.


"A primary, misleading, and ultimately irrelevant argument used by the Rotkin-Coonerty Council in passing this Planning Department-created Ban was that Santa Cruz City has "its share" of dispensaries and is adequately serving people. In comparison with other cities, in terms of the numbers of dispensaries there. However Santa Cruz COUNTY has two dispensaries: 1 dispensary for every 126,000 people. "

-That is one way to cook the stats, but c'mon, Robert, the City is not responsible for meeting the needs of the whole county. You've spend enough time around government and these kinds of debates to be able to do better than THAT!


'Craig Canada's comments on the Sentinel website are interesting (http://www.indybay.org/comment.php?top_id=18640441)."

-Yes, but if you read further in that thread, you will see that his numbers really didn't support his claim. Bottom line: two dispensaries, 52,000 people= 26,000 per dispensary. Leave the county out of it, or go after the supervisors for their own "Reefer Madness" which I would agree they have. But you can't blame the city for County policy and you know that.

"Gangs do not have turf wars over cannabis distribution. "

-Wrong. Yes, they do. However, I see this as another argument for FULL legalization, rather than wasting so much time on this whole medical "is it legal, is it not?" dance.

"Dispensaries don't sell imported cannabis. "

-If it is true that Greenways gives mexican ditchweed to poor patients, then they are at least BUYING from the Mexican cartels. Don't know many American growers growing ditchweed to sell to dispensaries.

Thank you for this debate, it doesn't have to be a harsh argument. We are basically on the same side.
by Robert Norse
Friday Mar 12th, 2010 1:48 PM
Watcher:

I'd appreciate it too if Indybay stopped simply deleting comments they don't like without explanation. For a fuller discussion see the (buried but not deleted) stories at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2008/06/07/18504977.php ("Dealing with "Trolls" on Indybay") and http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2008/01/18/18473304.php ("Deleted Comments Discussion")

I don't have the text of Proposition 215 before me. So the answer to your question is "I don't know how far-profit sales are banned, though I believe some compensation is allowed." Frankly, I'm more concerned with the broadest possible access to marijuana (medical or otherwise) and the undoing of years of sustained abuse against marijuana users, sellers, buyers, and growers. Restitution would be a nice thing too.

I would hope legalization (in a stronger form, even than the current Oaksterdam November initiative) passes as well. Perhaps even most of the City Council does (or so one would hope--it would be nice if this gutless gang actually DID something locally instead of cutting back access).

A prohibition against profiteering isn't necessarily something I'd oppose. But why a ban on new medical marijuana clubs?

I too have heard complaints from low-income folks (like Craig Canada) about shitty quality weed being given or peddled. I don't think limiting dispensaries helps that problem.

It's not that City Council is responsible for the supplying the County, but why should they be preventing city people from opening dispensaries that serve both the city, the county, and surrounding areas? There have also been no stats showing that the population here is adequately served (quoting repressive stats from other jurisdictions that have cut back clubs is not only irrelevant but deceptive).

The Supes of the County are a harder bunch to lobby, frankly. But whatever they do, it doesn't mean Santa Cruz should be declaring the new marijuana clubs are an emergency, a health and safety hazard, the one business that should be limited. That is simply hogwash. And dangerous familiar Reefer Madness stuff, as I've already emphasized.

I didn't comment on whether gangs have turf wars, dispensaries sell imported cannabis, or the quality of marijuana sold by the different growers. Frankly I don't have much good info to contribute here. Still I agree with you that legalization is the answer. Until that time, however, we need to provide as much access and protection as possible--both because it changes the climate and because it allows (potentially) for more competition.

I admit I don't have stats that prove or disprove the arrival of more dispensaries in L.A. and S.F. lowered prices. But then neither has the stonewalling staff that presented this latest Ban done any research on this issue that they've cared to reveal--over nine months of "emergency moratorium".

Some real research might actually give us insight. Instead we get prefabricated Prohibitionism masquering as anti-profiteering or "reasonable regulation".

Hope that answers your questions, Watcher.

The way is still open for some well-heeled advocates to organize a referendum.

Does anyone know whether WAMM, Greenway, and Limekiln meaningfully opposed this resolution?

I may be playing more audio from the hearing on Sunday's 9:30 AM to 1 PM radio show at 101.1 FM and http://www.freakradio.org.
by Johnny
Thursday Mar 18th, 2010 8:43 AM
I'm very surprised at the poor attendance for the council meeting. Judging from the pictures it looks as if only 25-30 people showed up. Considering this is such a hotbed issue for certain local groups I would have thought more people would have shown up. It's not like no one knew about it.