Tracy pot club's hearing set for Jan. 4

December 18, 2006

, Inside Bay Area

TRACY — A hearing date to decide whether a local medical marijuana club can legally operate under the current city code has been set for 2 p.m., Jan. 4 at City Hall.

A local attorney has volunteered to serve as the hearing officer, according to city officials.

The Valley Wellness Center, 130 W. 11th St., has continued to operate, under the threat of fines and citations, after being ordered to close before Dec. 5 by the city.

City officials contend the sale of medical marijuana isn't a listed use under the city's code. The group also misrepresented themselves on their business license, saying their activity would be "retail sales conducted by a nonprofit corporation," according to the city.

Although there is nothing in the city code specifically banning medical marijuana dispensaries, there's also nothing that allows for it. Last month, the collective was ordered by city code enforcement officers to "discontinue the non-listed use of distributing medical marijuana" in Tracy by Dec. 5.

An attorney for the dispensary said they provide a benefit to the community on a non-profit basis and called the city's legal position — anything not explicitly permitted is therefore prohibited — "dubious and infringes on constitutionally protected property rights."

In 1996, California voters passed Proposition 215 — the Compassionate Use Act — providing the seriously ill with the right to obtain and use marijuana for medical purposes.

 The San Joaquin County District Attorney's office interprets the retail sale of marijuana, even those who have a doctor's recommendation, as illegal.

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