Pot club licensing process to change

October 03, 2005

Karen Holzmeister, The Daily Review

A key vote today may give owners of medical marijuana dispensaries in unincorporated Alameda County the proverbial pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, or at least a lucky four-leaf clover.

But vocal residents still are insisting the six clubs in Ashland and Cherryland must go because of crimes ranging from murder to robbery to assault.

And without specifying locations, Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley told them last week that "a good number (of the clubs) are going to be closed down. We do know which ones."

This morning Miley and his four fellow supervisors must make two important decisions that could delay actions on the dispensaries for months.

Should operators of the six current dispensaries have 125 days to apply for three prized dispensary operating permits? Should the applications themselves require less detailed information than forms distributed this summer by Sheriff Charles Plummer's department?

If the answer is yes, three of the six cannabis clubs — which faced permanent closure after not submitting applications by the original Aug. 30 deadline — will win a reprieve and a chance to enter the permit lottery.

Additionally, the streamlined applications up for supervisors' review this morning don't ask detailed questions about relatives or associates.

Some club operators described requests for this information on permit application forms, distributed by the sheriff's department this summer, as intrusive.In June, county supervisors approved an ordinance that would halve the number of current dispensaries from six to three, but added Castro Valley as one of the communities where marijuana could be sold.

Supervisors also decided that sales should be limited to three locations with county permits and supervision.

Now supervisors will be asked to revise the application and permit process, which resulted from their June vote, in part because of objections raised by Oakland attorney Dennis Roberts, who represents the Garden of Eden dispensary on Foothill Boulevard in unincorporated Cherryland.

Invasion of privacy and the relevance of relationships — including former spouses and child-support questions — were among his concerns.

It's not clear whether the three clinic operators that submitted the original applications on time would be required to turn in new ones.

San Lorenzo resident Peter Hagberg circulated a petition to close the clinics at his community's 60th anniversary celebration last month. He said the county needs more stringent regulations to avoid "gangland-style shootings."

He referred to recent robberies at several clinics, including one on Aug. 19 at a dispensary on Foothill Boulevard in unincorporated Ashland, which resulted in one robber's death.

He said he's observed "healthy young men," with "little or no need for marijuana," going in and out of clinics."


Alameda County supervisors meet at 10:30 a.m. today at the county administration building, 1221 Oak St., fifth floor, Oakland.


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