Medical marijuana map swiftly redrawn

March 16, 2006

Karen Holzmeister, ANG Newspapers

For nearly two years, Alameda County supervisors have debated, questioned, praised, criticized and agonized over medical marijuana clinics.

Not on Tuesday.

Instead, they took only five minutes to redraw the map identifying where three dispensaries can operate in unincorporated areas.

No muss, no fuss, no public testimony, no supervisors' comments, and just a brief staff report.

Then, Nate Miley, one of two supervisors whose districts include cannabis clubs, made the motion to stretch the east Ashland-Castro Valley area slightly south into Cherryland.

What's the practical effect of the change?

-The Garden of Eden dispensary on Foothill Boulevard in south Cherryland was added to east Ashland-Castro Valley, known as Area Three.

The Garden of Eden is practically guaranteed the permit for this area. Earlier this month, supervisors denied A Natural Source on Foothill Boulevard in Ashland a chance to compete for a permit. It's closing by the end of the month.

-The Garden of Eden's move to Area Three leaves the Alameda County Resource Center and Compassionate Caregivers of Alameda County to compete for the operating permit in Area Two, northwest Ashland and the rest of south Cherryland.

-We Are Hemp on Lewelling Boulevard in San Lorenzo already has the permit for Area One, San Lorenzo and north-central Cherryland.

The revised boundaries for areas two and three won't be effective for more than a month, after supervisors vote to formally adopt the changes.

The decision inches the county closer to regulating these businesses, some of which have been lightning rods for criminal activity and loitering.

About three years ago, after Oakland imposed tighter regulations on its outlets, several clubs relocated to Ashland and Cherryland.

By 2004, three of seven clubs were clustered near each other on East 14th Street in Ashland. In October 2004, supervisors banned additional clinics and began preparing new regulations to govern existing ones.

Supervisors last year limited the number of clinics to three, and set up a permit application process. Customers of the various outlets protested the reduction in locations; in addition to local residents, many people testified that they traveled to Alameda County cannabis clubs from throughout the Bay Area.

Thus far, one club closed voluntarily, another closed after having its permit application denied, and a Natural Source is close to shutting its doors.

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