Cancer patient seeks to open S.C. pot shop

July 11, 2005

Shanna McCord, Santa Cruz Sentinel

Every time Lisa Molyneux makes the 150-mile round-trip to Oakland to buy medical marijuana, the Boulder Creek resident wonders why she can’t find a safe place to buy closer to home.

Molyneux, diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 1997, has relied on marijuana to ease nausea caused by radiation treatment, and to stimulate a diminished appetite. Even now, with her cancer in remission, Molyneux, 45, said she smokes pot a few nights a week to help her sleep.

All the driving she has done during the past three years has pushed Molyneux to pursue her own medical marijuana dispensary, an alternative pharmacy of sorts, to help Santa Cruz County residents facing the same dilemma.

'The facility we want to open I hope would be an example for the state to use,' she said. 'It’ll be a place to come and get marijuana without meeting someone on a street corner.'

People with a doctor’s prescription could buy marijuana as well as edibles that include the drug, such as lollipops, ice cream, brownies and peanut butter, Molyneux said.

Molyneux’s dispensary would be the first legal business of its kind in Santa Cruz, a city sympathetic to the cause.

Medical pot opponents say California’s legalization of the drug in 1996 for medical purposes was a deceptive initiative to exploit public compassion for the sick to legitimize its widespread use, and last month the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that federal drug laws supersede state medical marijuana laws.

A medical marijuana dispensary that opened in February on Pacific Avenue was quickly shut after city officials learned of its existence. Pacific Coast Cooperative was operating in a downtown location not zoned for that type of business. The owners have not pursued another site.

Molyneux, a broadcast engineer with Fox News Sports in Los Angeles, filed a formal application for a medical marijuana dispensary with the city Planning Department in November and has begun paying $5,000 monthly rent on a 4,000- square-foot building in the Harvey West industrial area.

She plans on using only half the space for the marijuana shop, but was forced to lease the entire area because another local medical marijuana organization had proposed taking it and she didn’t want to lose the opportunity, she said.

Ultimately, Molyneux’s plan needs City Council approval and hinges on a recommendation from the city Planning Commission because the building from which she plans to operate on DuBois Street is 40 feet too close to Harvey West Park — a violation of the city’s medical marijuana ordinance.

'We want to be a part of the community,' she said. 'We don’t want to be a burden.'

Ideally, Molyneux said, she’d like to discount the marijuana products for people on disability and Social Security or provide them for free.

'I really am longing to see a viable business that offers safe and affordable access to medical marijuana,' said Valerie Corral, founder of Wo/men’s Alliance for Medical Marijuana, a cooperative of about 200 seriously ill patients started in Santa Cruz in 1993. 'WAMM can’t produce the medicine to serve the whole community.

'She’s (Molyneux) doing the right thing and I’m glad she’s doing it.'

WAMM will stage a march downtown at noon Saturday, which Molyneux plans to join, to protest the federal government’s opposition to allowing medical use of the drug.

Councilman Tim Fitzmaurice, a medical marijuana supporter, said he’s waiting to form an opinion on Molyneux’s business plan until he hears what the public thinks.

'I’m hoping there’s ways we can provide help for people who need this medicine,' Fitzmaurice said Monday. 'There is anxiety in the way these things are operated. I want to make sure the location and the way they do business is appropriate.'

Contact Shanna McCord at

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