Tracy pot club facing closure
January 30, 2007
Mike Martinez, The Daily Review (CA)TRACY — An arbitrator has ordered a medical marijuana dispensary that opened more than two months ago to close by Feb. 9.
Jeanne Schechter, Merced's assistant city attorney, found that the dispensary does not fall within the permitted uses allowed in the downtown area.
After being open for about two weeks, the Valley Wellness Cannabis Collective was ordered in November by city code enforcement officers to "discontinue the nonlisted use of distributing medical marijuana" in Tracy by Dec. 5.
In her ruling released this week, Schechter also ruled the dispensary could appeal the order. The center, she found, was not a pharmacy and doesn't fall under miscellaneous retail uses allowed in the city code.
In her seven-page ruling, Shechter said the collective "is considered a public nuisance" under city codes.
"(The) Tracy Municipal Code ... provides that unauthorized uses are prohibited," Schechter wrote. "The (collective) does not fall within any unconditionally permitted uses within the (Central Business District) Zone and as such, is an unauthorized use in violation of the Tracy Municipal Code."
Although there is nothing in the city code specifically banning medical marijuana dispensaries, there's also nothing that allows for it.
Matt Robinson, a spokesman for the city of Tracy, said the ruling was good news for the city, which has seen two marijuana dispensaries open in the past two years, the first two ever to open in San Joaquin County.
"The city is pleased with the arbitrator's ruling," Robinson said."If the cannabis club wishes to appeal, the city will defend its position. We feel we are right in doing so."
Attorneys for the collective were unavailable for comment Tuesday morning.
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 to those who have a doctor's recommendation, as illegal.
Mike Martinez can be reached at (209) 832-3947 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.