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Santa Cruz City Council Votes to Ban Additional Medical Marijuana Dispensaries
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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'
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 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.
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'
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.
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.
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 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, 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 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 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.