Second Hayward marijuana club may blow out of town

December 18, 2006

Matt O\'Brien, Daily Review (CA)

HAYWARD — A week after federal agents put a quick end to one downtown Hayward medical marijuana clinic, the Hayward City Council will decide today what to do about the only other pot club in town.

The council is scheduled to vote on whether to extend its three-year operating agreement with the Hayward Patients Resource Center.

The agreement with the Foothill Boulevard dispensary expires Dec. 31, and the club would be forced to close if the council does not extend the agreement.

City staffers are recommending that the council authorize a "limited" extension lasting 90 days. Tom Lemos, owner of the club, said that's because the city wants him to use that time to find a new home.

"I have 90 days to move, basically, because otherwise I have to close," Lemos said. "It has to be in Hayward. We're doing our best. I can't say I'm totally optimistic."

City Manager Jesus Armas has said the construction of the new 12-screen cinema complex at the corner of B Street and Foothill Boulevard is one "compelling reason" why having pot clubs nearby is not a good idea.

"This is just to keep everybody focused," Armas said of tonight's meeting. "They want to be able to continue to do what they do while searching for another location."

Armas said that having pot clubs downtown "is not appropriate" anymore, given the expected increase of pedestrian traffic in coming years. However, he also said the council hasn't really decided whether anywhere else in the city would be appropriate.

Many council members have expressed general support for the club, saying it has been following the city's rules while the neighboring Local Patients Cooperative apparently was not.

Agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration and Internal Revenue Service raided the Local Patients Cooperative last Tuesday and arrested its owners on charges of conspiracy to distribute marijuana and the distribution of marijuana. The raided club was directly across the street from where the cinema is being built.

Lemos' club is a block away.

Lemos has distanced himself from his embattled neighbor, saying his own clinic has been following the letter of local law by keeping only a minimal amount of marijuana on the premises at any given time.

Today's meeting begins at 8 p.m. at Hayward City Hall, Council Chambers, 777 B St.

Matt O'Brien can be reached at (510) 293-2473 or mattobrien@dailyreviewonline.com.



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