County Pot Clubs Battle To Stay Open

October 11, 2005

Jeff Torres, Castro Valley Forum

After the Alameda County Board of Supervisors banned any more medical marijuana clubs permitted in the unincorporated area’s of the county, the future looks both golden and risky for those who remain in business. Of the seven original clubs, only six remain in business. Of those, only three clubs submitted their permit renewal by the August deadline. Complaints about the intrusiveness of the 29-page questionnaire have led to law suits and delays by the other three clubs to submit their applications.

A vote to revise and streamline the application process was approved by the supervisors, giving the three remaining clubs a chance to apply. A spokesman for the supervisors said the applications looked like the clubs took the application for being a sheriff’s deputy and attached it to the clubs’.

Alameda County Sheriff Charles Plummer has expressed his displeasure with the clubs’ existence and other department officials say they feel the clubs are a magnet for crime. Because the clubs hold cash and drugs, they have become targets for sometimes violent criminals.

Club owners say they want to stay open and that they are no more vulnerable than any other business that deals in cash.

The owner of “A Natural Source” on Foothill Blvd. feels his business is no different than a liquor store and the dangers still haven’t stopped the club owners from staying in business. Officials in the sheriff’s department say they have a back log of applications to open new clubs. The reason is because marijuana has such a high market value, costing as much or more than gold. One-eight ounce of marijuana sells for about $60.

Easy access to medical marijuana cards has created a big demand, so the limited number of clubs means thousands more in revenue for existing clubs. Regulating the issue of county-approved medical marijuana cards has been discussed, but to date no decision has been made.

Pot clubs are fighting a public relations game too. Every time a crime is committed in or around the clubs some believe the news stories are hyped. The supervisors’ spokesman said the sheriff is always “bad mouthing” the clubs, while club owners feel they are only providing a natural medicine that is a relief to those who suffer.

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