Medical pot group hires lawyer to fight closure

December 04, 2006

John Upton, San Joaquin News Service , Lodi News-Sentinel

Locals prescribed marijuana to fight pain and illness may soon be breathing cloudy sighs of relief, with a nonprofit group announcing Monday through a lawyer that it would fight city plans to close its downtown medical marijuana dispensary.

Tracy code enforcement officer Pat Zona told the Valley Wellness Center Collective in a Nov. 22 letter that it would expose itself to daily fines if it continued selling marijuana. The letter gave the wellness center until 5 p.m. today to appeal.

Zona said in the letter that the sale of marijuana is not listed in Tracy's zoning laws.

Wellness center attorney James Anthony said Tracy had given only vague reasons for closing the month-old dispensary, and he claimed the decision violated his client's property rights.

"It seems to me that they're saying that because it (the dispensary) is not permitted, it's therefore prohibited," said Anthony. "Do you have to trot along and ask their permission for every little thing? I'm not sure.

"They haven't regulated medical cannabis collectives. They haven't banned them. They haven't put a moratorium in place to see how they might regulate them."

City spokesman Matt Robinson said he was amazed to hear that the center would challenge its banishment.

"They just won't go away, will they?" Robinson said.

The city has received one complaint about the center from a neighboring restaurant, said Robinson.

A center employee estimated that 75 people visit the 11th Street dispensary every week. There are an estimated 150 dispensaries statewide.

The city closed a marijuana dispensary in the downtown Opera House earlier this year.

Contact reporter John Upton at jupton@tracypress.com.



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