Pot shop lights up the town: Medical users get Santa Cruz outlet

September 15, 2005

Shanna McCord , Santa Cruz Sentinel

SANTA CRUZ — Beginning Wednesday, local medical marijuana patients should be able to legally buy pot at an office in the Harvey West industrial area.

Boulder Creek resident Lisa Molyneux secured the necessary permits from the city to open Greenway Compassionate Relief Inc. on DuBois Street, a plan that was unanimously approved by the City Council on July 26.

Police Chief Howard Skerry and Dannettee Shoemaker, director of the city Parks and Recreation Department, recommended the council deny the project.

Skerry, refusing to comment Thursday, previously told the council that the proximity of Harvey West Park to the marijuana dispensary could exacerbate drug dealing, drinking and illegal camping in the area.

The Harvey West Area Association also wrote a letter opposing the special-use permit.

Despite the reservations, Molyneux’s final hurdle before opening Greenway is a walk-through inspection with city officials set for Monday to examine security measures and planned operations for the medical marijuana business.

If everything passes, she said, the shop will open 11 a.m. Wednesday.

"I’m ready. I want to get this thing open," Molyneux said. "Patients come by all the time when I’m there working on stuff. They’re all looking at me to open."

Molyneux’s dispensary will be the first legal business of its kind in Santa Cruz, a city sympathetic to the cause.

The dispensary could face an uncertain future as state and local laws allowing marijuana use for medicinal reasons defies a staunch federal law and a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June that declares the drug illegal.

City officials have made it clear that Molyneux would be responsible for whatever legal fights might be ahead.

The police and fire departments signed off on Molyneux’s building permit Wednesday, Mike Ferry of the city Planning Department said.

So far, Molyneux, who left her job as a broadcast engineer with Fox News Sports in Los Angeles after the council agreed to her plan, has spent $100,000 in getting the business ready to open.

Monthly rent on the 4,000-square-foot building is $5,000, she said. Molyneux will only use about 1,000 square feet initially.

Greenway will be limited to buying and selling the drug, and patients will not be allowed to consume marijuana at the site, nor will plants be sold.

Patients can purchase up to 2 ounces of marijuana at a time, depending on the recommendation from their doctor, Molyneux said. Her prices will range from $25-$55 for an eighth of an ounce.

Once the business gets going, Molyneux hopes to drop the prices.

Pot will be provided by patients who grow the plant, she said.

"This is about patients taking care of patients," Molyneux said.

A security guard will be stationed in the lobby, and a receptionist will verify medical marijuana cards and physician licenses, Molyneux said.

The council denied Molyneux from offering massage, education and support groups until it’s proven she can run the dispensary with few problems.

A city review is planned six months after Greenway opens.

"I can’t do anything but dispense for six months," she said.

The council also required Molyneux to write an operations manual for Greenway, which the city attorney approved Sept. 9, Ferry said.

She plans to be open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday.


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