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East Bay Pot Dispensary To Close

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HAYWARD -- This year will mark both the 10th anniversary of The
Hayward Hempery and the likely closure of its pot dispensary as a
result of a surprise City Council decision Tuesday.

The council was scheduled to consider the grandfathering of The
Hempery and the Local Patients' Cooperative -- both on Foothill
Boulevard near B Street -- as part of a compromise agreement that
evolved from a city task force on medical marijuana. The dispensaries,
including a third one that recently opened in the same vicinity on
Foothill, have been operating in violation of Hayward's zoning law.

The council instead voted 7-0 to sanction Local Patients' Cooperative
and the new Hayward Patients' Resource Center, a revival of the former
B Street Helping Hands Patients' Center.

That means The Hempery -- one of Alameda County's best-known and
oldest medical marijuana suppliers -- will have to close its
dispensary. The Hempery also sells hemp clothing and products, said
owner Cheryl Adams, who was floored by the news Wednesday morning.

"I was never notified of any of this," she said, adding that she
planned to talk to Mayor Roberta Cooper about what she views as the
unfairness of the decision.

Adams disputes The Hempery's reputation in some quarters that hard
drugs and other unsavory activities take place there.

Adams didn't go to Tuesday's meeting because someone had called the
dispensary to say it was postponed until Dec. 2, she said. That
postponement was true for the city of Oakland's deliberations on the
issue, but not Hayward's.

Twenty-three medical marijuana advocates testified Tuesday to try to
convince the council to grandfather three, not two dispensaries. Many
were there to support HPRC owner Jane Weirick, who opened the
dispensary in her dress shop to serve the patients and employees of
Helping Hands.

"If I had known, I would have had (my patients) come out, too," Adams

The dispensaries aren't new, but their profiles were raised earlier
this year after an ANG Newspapers story about a proposed new
dispensary. The city turned down the proposed new owner and notified
the existing dispensary owners that they were violating the law.

That led Cooper to form an ad hoc committee, with the hope of coming
up with a way to allow the dispensaries to continue serving patients
despite conflicting federal and state law.

Councilman Kevin Dowling's motion Tuesday to leave out The Hempery
followed 11/2 hours of testimony and debate about whether to
grandfather in two or three dispensaries.

The grandfathering would last three years. At that point, if laws
aren't reconciled, the dispensaries will have to close. Despite
instructions from Cooper, the debate also ended up being about whether
to let Weirick, heralded by her supporters as a champion of medical
marijuana patients, keep her dispensary open.

"This is not about Jane," Cooper said, in an attempt to limit
rehashing of testimonials given on her behalf at a work session last

At the work session, the council made no decision about whether it
would sanction two or three dispensaries. But most members appeared
supportive of Weirick and her dispensary.

Some medical marijuana advocates interpreted that support as a done
deal. So did Weirick, who was shocked to read a report from City
Manager Jesus Armas last week recommending the council grandfather in
the original two included in the task force recommendation and not

"I'm as confused as I can be. I left the last work session believing
the issues had been settled," she said, in tears, adding that she had
already planned a Thanksgiving dinner and bought Christmas
decorations. "Please don't deprive our patients of their

Others faulted the council, stating that it hadn't listened to the

The testimony started to offend council members who pride themselves
on Hayward's status as the compassionate "Heart of the Bay."

Cooper did respond to medical marijuana activist Ed Rosenthal, who
said limiting the dispensaries is unconstitutional under state law and
not fair to consumers.

"You're treating these dispensaries as if they're nuisances,"
Rosenthal said, adding that the ACLU could challenge that limitation.
"Basically, this is an herb shop. I don't think you can close them

Cooper replied that "telling this council that we don't know what
we're doing doesn't bode well."

After pointing out that the majority of those who testified were not
Hayward residents, Cooper said it was "disingenuous" for Weirick, who
served on the medical marijuana task force as president of the Medical
Cannabis Association, to later try to change the recommendation to
which she was a party.

That sent Weirick and a group of her supporters storming out of the

Although he wanted to grandfather all three dispensaries, Dowling
realized he didn't have the votes for that and offered the compromise

If not all three, he said, why not choose the two that have the best
reputations? Councilman Olden Henson agreed, adding that The Hempery
has had some "police action issues."

Police raided The Hempery in 2000, when it was owned by founder Bob
Wilson. Although officers found a marijuana-growing operation inside,
no charges were filed. Before that, the Hempery was held up at gunpoint.

More recently, Adams said The Hempery was robbed on Nov. 7 of$30,000
worth of marijuana. She didn't report it to the police, however, at
the urging of Weirick. Weirick said she was concerned the news could
interfere with council deliberations.

The council also voted unanimously on an ordinance that recognizes
medical marijuana identification cards issued by other cities and
counties. That will have to go back to the council for a second reading.

The decision about grandfathering the dispensaries, including a list
of conditions by which they will have to abide, is final, unless a
council member asks to reconsider it.

Pubdate: Fri, 21 Nov 2003
Source: Argus, The (CA)
Copyright: 2003, ANG Newspapers
Contact: arguslet@angnewspapers.com
Website: Fremont – East Bay Times