New Pot Club Set To Open Monday

New Pot Club Set To Open Monday
Posted by CN Staff on May 11, 2005 at 21:42:37 PT
By Paul Payne,  The Press Democrat
Source: Press Democrat
California -- Santa Rosa may have a moratorium on pot clubs, but that isn't stopping one from opening on Santa Rosa Avenue, just outside city limits. On Monday, a group will open Sonoma County's fourth medical marijuana dispensary in the former Cork 'n' Bottle liquor store.Kenneth Beyries, a lawyer for the new Northbay Wellness Center, said he hopes the club will be a shining example in a region that has had its share of pot club problems.
"It will be strikingly different than any other club around," Beyries said. "We're attempting to operate in a manner as inoffensive as possible."Word of the opening surprised neighbors, the landowner and county officials, who vowed immediate action to prevent more clubs from opening in unincorporated areas of the county.Tim Smith, chairman of the county Board of Supervisors, said he would propose an emergency moratorium Tuesday to give the county time to devise regulations. The county has no policies prohibiting pot clubs, but Santa Rosa, Rohnert Park and Sebastopol have temporarily banned new pot clubs while they draft permanent laws regulating their operations."I have no problem with the use of marijuana to ease pain and suffering," Smith said. "The issue is how it is it done. It's a matter of where it fits in."Sheriff Bill Cogbill said deputies would not try to shut the dispensary, but he would launch a investigation to ensure no laws are broken."The law is not real clear whether cannabis clubs are legal," Cogbill said. "My opinion is they are not."District Attorney Stephan Passalacqua said his office would not prosecute medical marijuana dispensaries.Several marijuana clubs have come and gone in the county in the nine years since California voters approved Proposition 215, which legalized marijuana for medical use. The businesses sell marijuana to people who have obtained a doctor's recommendation to use it for medical purposes.Of the current pot clubs, one is in unincorporated Guerneville and three are in Santa Rosa.Complaints this spring about a Sonoma Avenue club prompted the Santa Rosa City Council to impose its moratorium while it writes a law that governs where and when the dispensaries may operate.Neighbors to Resource Green Caregivers pot club said patrons smoked marijuana around children, divided pot illegally and urinated in bushes.All three Santa Rosa clubs have been targeted by thieves. Last month, robbers stole marijuana from a West Steele Lane cooperative at gunpoint, police said.Operators of the new club said they did their planning with all of that in mind.Beyries said they are opening in a commercial area that is far from schools and parks and will be closely supervised.No one under 21 will be allowed to buy pot. Smoking on the premises will be banned and all patrons will be required to show proof of county residency, Beyries said.Northbay Wellness Cooperative is a nonprofit California corporation that is run by a board of directors and is not connected to existing clubs, Beyries said."We simply want to be judged for ourselves, not the reputation of others," Beyries said.Santa Rosa Avenue neighbors, including a family living next door, were skeptical about the club's ability to run trouble-free.And the club's landlord, used car dealer Ruben Luna, said he leased the property for three years after the tenants said they wanted to open a video store."It's the first time I heard about this," Luna said. "I don't want it to be on my property."George Creamier, a barber across the street, said he's afraid people will loiter at the club late at night and scare people away from his business."Personally, I don't like it," Creamier said.Gina Porterfield, who lives in a house next to the club with her husband and three children, said mixing drugs and children is unwise."Look at how close they are," Porterfield said Tuesday, pointing across her yard. "Our swing-set is right there."Source: Press Democrat, The (CA)Author: Paul Payne, The Press DemocratPublished: Wednesday, May 11, 2005Copyright: 2005 The Press DemocratContact: letters pressdemo.comWebsite: Medical Marijuana Archives
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