Medical pot dispensaries line up for Midway District
Published - 04/23/14 - 03:00 PM | 3989 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Medical marijuana and the possibility of cooperatives coming to the Midway District, where such businesses are now allowed under a new city ordinance, was the main topic of discussion at the Midway-Pacific Highway Community Planning Group’s meeting on April 16.

Thyme Curtis, chief of staff for interim District 2 City Councilman Ed Harris, answered planners’ questions about the particulars of the new ordinance.

The new ordinance allows cooperatives only to be based in industrial-zoned areas, removed from residential areas, youth-oriented businesses or institutions and each other.

“Medical marijuana establishments are not allowed within 1,000 feet of schools, churches, public parks, playgrounds or minor-oriented facilities,” said Curtis, who passed out a city information bulletin on how to apply for a conditional-use permit for a medical marijuana consumer cooperative.

“That means us,” said planning group chairwoman Melanie Nickel.

Curtis said the number of cooperatives allowed was capped at four dispensaries per council district and that new regulations prevent them from being closer than 1,000 feet from one another or within 100 feet of a residence.

“Do they (cooperatives) have to be nonprofits?” asked Nickel.

Curtis said some of the regulations are in a gray area.

“Are there any limits on who can own and run them?” quizzed Nickel.

Curtis responded that an owner cannot have a felony.

Asked why the new regulations on cooperatives restrict them to industrial zones, Curtis replied, “They picked the least offensive place they could put them where they wouldn’t be near residences.”

Kyle Castanon of GroCal said he and his family have been growing medical marijuana and intend to apply for a Midway District cooperative. Noting his science background, Castanon said growers like himself have been able to develop marijuana strains which are low in psychoactive tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) sought by recreational users, and high in medical properties benefiting patients.

“We want to be good neighbors and we would have to operate under stringent conditions, including having security on staff with specified operating hours from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.,” he said.

Joy Greenfield, who previously owned a cooperative, said she has already filed for an application for a new cooperative that she intends to locate in the building she owns at 3421 Hancock St.

“My paperwork is done,” Greenfield said. She added computer technology today allows cooperatives to closely track marijuana sold for medical purposes.

“There are many safeguards you can set up on how much and often patrons can buy,” she said.

The process for prospective dispensary applicants may take on a little urgency.

“It’s first-come, first-served,” said Midway planner Cathy Denton.

Commercial realtor Jeff Tate warned the group that he’s been getting up to 30 calls a week from cooperative owners who are being displaced by new city regulations. He said they are inquiring about available properties and wanting to relocate to the Midway District.

“It’s the Wild West out here,” Tate said, noting inquiries are being made by owners who’ve been operating cooperatives illegally until now.
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