Tracy weighs future of pot club

January 02, 2007

, Tri-Valley Herald (CA)

TRACY — While the national debate over the use of medical marijuana has yet to be settled, city officials hope to resolve the confusion over whether or not cannabis clubs that distribute the drug to patients are allowed under the city code.

The situation has come to a head after Tracys own cannabis club, The Valley Wellness Center at 130 W. 11th St., continued to operate after the owners were ordered to close it.

Although nothing in the city code specifically bans medical marijuana dispensaries, theres also nothing that allows them. In November, city code enforcement officers ordered the club to discontinue the nonlisted use of distributing medical marijuana.

The city also contends the group misrepresented itself on its business license, saying its activity would be retail sales conducted by a nonprofit corporation.

An attorney for the dispensary said it provides a benefit to the community on a nonprofit basis and called the citys legal position — anything not explicitly permitted is therefore prohibited — dubious andinfringes on constitutionally protected property rights.

A hearing is now set for Thursday, and according to city officials a local attorney has volunteered to serve as the hearing officer.

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 Attorneys Office interprets the retail sale of marijuana, even to those who have a doctors recommendation, as illegal.

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