Harvey West pot dispensary sells marijuana to first customers

September 21, 2005

Shanna McCord, Saanta Cruz Sentinel

SANTA CRUZ — The pungent odor of marijuana wafted through the office Wednesday as the city’s first medical marijuana dispensary opened.

"Finally," sighed owner Lisa Molyneux, a Boulder Creek resident who was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 1997.

Molyneux has worked 14 months for the necessary city permits and approvals to start Greenway Compassionate Relief Inc.

The City Council, faced with almost no public opposition, gave Molyneux its unanimous approval in July.

Molyneux said she’s spent about $100,000 to start the business, including monthly rent for the 5,000-square-foot office and arranging security.

The DuBois Street pot shop in the Harvey West industrial area is a place for the estimated 3,000 medical marijuana patients in Santa Cruz County to safely and legally access the drug, she said.

Having a place to buy medical marijuana in Santa Cruz means local patients don’t have to drive to San Francisco, Oakland or Hayward, Molyneux said.

Wednesday, clients lined up outside the office in the morning waiting for Molyneux to get started at 11 a.m.

Counterintuitive to Santa Cruz, no one protested the business.

Medical marijuana patients chose their pot Wednesday like someone picking out a cookie or muffin from a bakery.

Behind two large glass cases were a range of marijuana varieties with names such as "Haze Heaven," "Sativa Special," "Ron’s Rags" and "Morning Star."

Each eighth-ounce of marijuana was sealed in a clear, small plastic bag with a Ziploc-like top.

Patients walked out with their pot inside a small, white paper sack.

Brandon Brown, 42, an antique dealer in Corralitos, spent $90 on two-eighths of marijuana Wednesday at Greenway.

He suffers chronic stomach pain and said, "Something like this was desperately needed."

He said pot controls his nausea and it helps him sleep.

"This is very comparable to a San Francisco clinic," Brown said. "It’s packaged even better. It’s ethical and it’s very well done."

Molyneux’s shop operates based on state and local laws that allow the use of marijuana for serious medical reasons

The federal government, however, denies marijuana has any medical use, and a U.S. Supreme Court decision in June reaffirmed the drug is illegal.

"My hope is by following state and city laws strictly, the feds will overlook us," Molyneux said. "I’m sure they know we’re open."


Mike Corral, who founded Wo/Men’s Alliance for Medical Marijuana with his wife, Valerie, in 1993, enthusiastically supports Greenway.

WAMM, a cooperative with 200 medical marijuana patients, faces the same uncertain future as Greenway because of federal restrictions.

"I’d tell Lisa (Molyneux) to operate in the cleanest possible fashion," Corral said. "Because all of us in the medical marijuana industry are under scrutiny.

"We don’t know what the feds are going to do."

Despite recommendations from the Police and Parks and Recreation departments to deny Greenway from setting up near Harvey West Park, Mayor Mike Rotkin welcomes the business as an asset to the area.

"I’m feeling quite confident this isn’t going to cause problems in our community," Rotkin said. "I expect it’s going to be a very smooth-running operation."

As far as others duplicating what Molyneux started, Rotkin said they would have to meet the same stringent standards.

"They would have to be as responsible and organized as she is," he said.


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