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Santa Cruz Medical Marijuana Advocate Urges City to Rule on Plan for New Dispensary


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SANTA CRUZ, CA - Advocates for establishing a third medical marijuana dispensary in Santa Cruz are urging city officials to rule soon on whether a cannabis club can open on the Westside.

Stuart Kriege, of Kriege Construction in Santa Cruz, told the City Council last week that he was "perplexed" by how long it has taken to decide whether he can open a dispensary on Ingalls Street. Kriege, who submitted his permit application before the council passed a moratorium on new pot shops last summer, said the famously marijuana-friendly city has enough demand to support more shops.

"It's like you're using a shotgun to kill a fly," Kriege said, noting that the two existing pot clubs have not generated a single call for police service - a fact verified by city officials.

Despite Kriege's plea, the City Council unanimously extended the ban for four months and 15 days so planners could verify whether there was a need for additional dispensaries. A city survey found that 25 percent of buyers at the existing clubs live outside Santa Cruz County.

Council members also want planners to ensure Kriege's proposed shop and the two local clubs meet state and local regulations, including operating like nonprofit organizations. Representatives of the city's two authorized clubs, Greenway Compassionate Relief Inc. and Santa Cruz Patients Collective, did not immediately return messages Friday. Kriege declined an interview request.

Santa Cruz is not the only city grappling with how to regulate pot clubs. A San Jose City Council committee suggested the full council take up an ordinance permitting and taxing the city's dispensaries, which now number 30.

But the Los Angeles City Council voted to limit cannabis clubs to 70, thus closing nearly 1,000 shops. Hollister leaders approved an all-out ban on dispensaries, and the Monterey City Council adopted a 45-day moratorium while new regulations are worked out. The various local rulings are likely to set up court challenges that could affect whatever new regulations Santa Cruz may pass.

Although Santa Cruz voters approved a measure in 2006 making pot enforcement the lowest public safety priority, the City Council has to weigh expanding legal access to pot at a time of increasing anxiety about drug- and gang-related violence. Recently, Take Back Santa Cruz and other community action groups have rallied against what they see as rampant drug dealing near downtown and in the Lower Ocean area.

"I don't want to deal with any more drug deans around town," resident Derek Verduzco told the council. He said more pot shops would make the city "very unsafe and environmentally unsound."

But Peter Wildberger, who supports Kriege, asked the council, "Is there any evidence that these are in fact nuisances or just unfounded fear?"

Police Lt. Rick Martinez said the two current clubs, in fact, do a good job of policing themselves.

"We're not seeing a lot of problems from them," he said.

Still, city planners said they need more time to make a recommendation about expanding regulations on dispensaries. The current ban was set to expire Feb. 8.

Planners first asked for a ban last June after receiving near daily inquiries about opening pot clubs - as interest sparked by an announcement from the Obama administration that California dispensaries would no longer be targeted by federal drug agents. Only Kriege has pursued a formal permit request.

Several council members said they agreed to give planners more time to ensure that dispensaries don't operate at a hefty profit, given that medical marijuana is supposed to be a low-cost enterprise.

"My primary concern is that our local ordinance and state law seemed to me to say a dispensary can only be a co-op or collective," Councilman Don Lane said. "Both models are democratically controlled and member-oriented."

News Hawk- Weedpipe http://www.420Magazine.com
Source: San Jose Mercury News
Author: J.M. BROWN - Santa Cruz Sentinel
Contact: Home - San Jose Mercury News
Copyright: 2010 - San Jose Mercury News
Website:Santa Cruz medical marijuana advocate urges city to rule on plan for new dispensary


Nug of the Month: Nov 2009
Re: Santa Cruz Medical Marijuana Advocate Urges City to Rule on Plan for New Dispensa

A city survey found that 25 percent of buyers at the existing clubs live outside Santa Cruz County.

And what do you think those 25% of buyers outside the county do when they travel to Santa Cruz for their meds? They spend money in town while they're there. They go to restaurants, tour shops, hit the beach and boardwalk, buy stuff. Isn't this something the city council wants to happen? Profits for local businesses? The tourist trade is crap in the winter, businesses struggle to keep alive from season to season. Having a business that draws customers from out of town during the slowest part of the year is a GOOD THING economically. Too bad they don't see this. :peace:
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