California, Richmond

Medical marijuana by city.

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California, Richmond

Postby palmspringsbum » Fri May 19, 2006 10:07 am

The Contra Costa Times wrote:Posted on Fri, May. 19, 2006

Marijuana clubs question ethics of city's order to close

RICHMOND: Both dispensaries told to shut their doors immediately

By Tom Lochner
CONTRA COSTA TIMES

With the crafting of a medical marijuana regulating ordinance stalled, the Richmond City Attorney's office has ordered the immediate closure of two cannabis clubs, the only ones known to operate in the city.

One, Natural Remedies Health Collective on Macdonald Avenue, promptly closed. The other, Holistic Solutions on Hilltop Mall Road, remained open Thursday. Owner Ken Estes said he hopes to persuade Richmond officials and council members that his business benefits both patients and the city at large.

In a cease-and-desist order dated May 16, Assistant City Attorney Trisha Aljoe told Natural Remedies owner Linda Jackson that failure to comply will result in the filing of criminal charges. Estes said he received a similar letter. With no land-use standards permitting medical marijuana dispensaries in the city, the letter reads, "your continued marijuana operation is in clear violation of the Richmond Municipal Code and constitutes both a public nuisance per se, as well as a criminal misdemeanor."

Jackson closed her shop Wednesday, but on Thursday, she questioned the legality and ethics of the city's order.

"This is taking away my livelihood and putting my patients in harm's way," said Jackson. She also questioned how the city could prosecute her, because no city law specifically addresses cannabis clubs, which are legal under California law -- unless the city decides to enforce the federal law.

In 1996, the state's voters approved marijuana for medical use on the recommendation of a doctor. The federal government, however, considers marijuana an illegal drug, with no medical use.

Aljoe did not return calls Thursday. The city's administrative chief, Janet Schneider, said the city attorney's office takes the stand that cannabis clubs are illegal since the city code does not explicitly permit them. Moreover, she said, the city's zoning ordinance rules out unlawful activities in general.

Richmond's legal stand differs from that of some other Contra Costa cities, which passed urgency moratoriums on the opening of cannabis clubs. Those cities, among them Antioch, Oakley, Pinole and San Pablo, reasoned that without a moratorium, their cities lacked the legal mechanism to keep cannabis clubs from opening absent any reference to them in their municipal codes.

Richmond, too, once had a moratorium; it lapsed in October. A draft ordinance that would limit cannabis clubs to certain commercial areas bounced among the Planning Commission, Public Safety Committee, City Council and city staff for months. On Thursday, the committee declined to adopt a recommendation by the city staff to declare cannabis clubs a "non-permitted use" and referred the matter to the city council to consider as part of a general plan overhaul.

Police Chief Chris Magnus said Thursday that cannabis clubs are a drain on police resources. But earlier this year, Richmond Police spokesman Lt. Mark Gagan quipped that things were so quiet at Natural remedies he had virtually forgotten it existed.

Magnus said there was a burglary at Natural Remedies in May 2005. But Jackson said that occurred under a previous owner. And at Holistic solutions, Magnus said, Richmond officers observed a steady stream of young people coming and going, causing him to doubt they were there for medical reasons. But Estes said many younger people use medical marijuana for pain resulting from injuries and that police should come inside to observe how he checks out his patients.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Reach Tom Lochner at 510-262-2760 or tlochner@cctimes.com.

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Police confiscate pot club owner's marijuana

Postby palmspringsbum » Wed Aug 30, 2006 10:18 am

The Contra Costa Times wrote:Posted on Wed, Aug. 30, 2006

Police confiscate pot club owner's marijuana
<blockquote>
<b>RICHMOND: Owner says city is harassing him to destroy his business; his four storefronts closed due to lack of supply</b>
</blockquote>

By Tom Lochner
CONTRA COSTA TIMES

Performing what they characterized as a routine traffic stop, Richmond police Tuesday arrested a man and impounded his truck, which they said carried some 30 pounds of high-quality marijuana.

The owner of Richmond's lone openly operating medical marijuana dispensary, where the truck was headed, immediately denounced the police's action as "harassment," part of a "mean-spirited" effort to interfere with his business and deny patients their medicine.

"It just shakes up everybody; that's why they're doing it," said Ken Estes, owner of Holistic Solutions on Hilltop Mall Road, about a half-mile from the intersection of Blume Drive and Klose Way, where police stopped the truck around 10:15 a.m.

In May, the Richmond city attorney's office issued "cease-and-desist" orders to Holistic Solutions and another dispensary, which promptly closed. But Estes, challenging the legality of the city's order, kept Holistic Solutions open.

Popularly known as cannabis clubs, dispensaries are legal under state law but are not addressed in the Richmond city code.

Holistic Solutions remained open Tuesday until mid-afternoon, when lack of supply related to the truck bust forced it to close, Estes said. The store likely will remain closed today, as will three other dispensaries he owns, he said.

"We're going to regroup," Estes said.

Holistic Solutions was supposed to be the first stop Tuesday in a round of deliveries to Estes' four similarly-named cannabis clubs in Richmond, San Francisco, Clear Lake and South Lake Tahoe, he said.

Police said the nature of the cargo and its destination was not the reason for Tuesday's traffic stop.

The truck ran a stop sign, said Richmond Police Sgt. Allwyn Brown. After the truck pulled over, "as soon as the officer reached the (driver's) window, he recognized the unique smell of cannabis."

Police found about 30 pounds of marijuana inside the truck and arrested the driver, Richard Barrett, 57, on suspicion of possessing illegal drugs for sale and confiscated the truck with its cargo.

Estes said the dispensary's legal representatives got Barrett released from the Richmond City Jail later Tuesday on $15,000 bail. Police could not verify that Barrett had been released. He has not been charged.

Various Richmond administrative officials have made it clear they do not want cannabis clubs in their city. They say such clubs are illegal because the city code does not explicitly permit them. Other cities contend that without regulations there is no legal basis to control or ban cannabis clubs, and they have enacted moratoriums as temporary solutions.

But Richmond officials have not agreed on a draft ordinance to present to the City Council and have not enforced the cease-and-desist order against Holistic Solutions.

Police chief Chris Magnus has said cannabis clubs are a drain on police resources and that officers have observed a steady stream of young people entering and leaving Holistic Solutions, causing him to doubt they were there for medical reasons.

Estes said many younger people use medical marijuana for pain resulting from injuries and that his dispensary rigorously complies with state law.

The Compassionate Use Act, passed by the state's voters in 1996, allows people to cultivate, buy and possess marijuana for medicinal use on the recommendation of a doctor. State Senate Bill 420 set guidelines in 2003 for distribution of the drug.

The federal government, however, considers marijuana an illegal drug with no medical application.

Richmond administrative officials have also taken the stand that cannabis clubs are illegal under a section of the city's zoning ordinance that rules out unlawful activities in general.


<hr class=postrule>
<center><small>Staff writer Karl Fischer contributed to this report. Reach Tom Lochner at 510-262-2760 or tlochner@cctimes.com.</small></center>

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Pot club owner unable to retrieve seized items

Postby Midnight toker » Sat Sep 02, 2006 11:54 am

The Contra Costa Times wrote:Posted on Sat, Sep. 02, 2006

Pot club owner unable to retrieve seized items

By Tom Lochner
CONTRA COSTA TIMES


The owner of a cannabis club and his deliveryman have struck out at Richmond police headquarters trying to retrieve confiscated property: the club owner's 27 pounds of marijuana and the driver's personal effects, which include more than $23,000 in cash he called his life's savings.

"They're denying patients their medicine," said Ken Estes, who owns Holistic Solutions on Hilltop Mall Road and the marijuana that was in the truck.

The marijuana will be held as evidence, said Steve Ladeck, commander of WestNET, the West Contra Costa Narcotics Enforcement Team. On Thursday, a WestNET officer handed the deliveryman, Richard Barrett, a notice of intended forfeiture of the cash. Barrett said he has carried his savings with him since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Police returned his truck Wednesday and some personal effects Thursday.

Estes described as "pure harassment" a police action that began Tuesday with a traffic stop and culminated in Barrett's arrest on suspicion of illegally transporting narcotics and confiscation of the truck's cargo.

Barrett was released later Tuesday after the cannabis club's legal team posted $15,000 bail. Barrett has an Oct. 2 date to appear in court but has not been charged with any crime.

By then, Estes said, the marijuana, which he described as top-grade with the name "Ken's granddaddy," likely will be useless.

"The product can go bad," Estes said. "It's like any kind of perishable."

Late Friday afternoon, Holistic Solutions remained closed, with a handwritten sign taped to the door informing patrons it was out of medication.

Barrett and Estes say they are in full compliance with state medical-marijuana laws. Both are certified medical-marijuana patients and can carry 8 ounces of marijuana for themselves and each patient they serve under state law, they say.

Ladeck said he did not know initially that Barrett is a cannabis patient.

"I was told that Mr. Barrett has a marijuana card," Ladeck said. "I think I was told after he was arrested that there was some indication of medicinal marijuana."

But that does not mean Barrett was acting legally, Ladeck said.

"It's not as cut and dry as that," he said. "That's why we're taking our time and investigating.

"There was more than probable cause to arrest him."

Ladeck said he could not elaborate.

Richmond police said Barrett was pulled over in a "routine traffic stop" that happened to uncover marijuana.

"(The arresting officer) actually received information from a confidential source that the car may have been carrying narcotics," deputy chief Lori Ritter said. "He developed the probable cause to stop the car based upon the stop sign violation and then, you know, was able to notice the obvious odor of marijuana coming from it.

"Since it is an ongoing investigation at this time, we are not in a position to reveal the confidential source and where that information came from."

Barrett said he had just pulled out of a McDonald's restaurant on Klose Way and was approaching the stop sign at the intersection with Blume Drive when he saw four police cars and two police motorcycles on the next block.

"I came to a complete stop and counted: 'one, two,'" Barrett said; police vehicles pulled up behind him, warning lights flashing, he said.

When he returned to his Hayward house Tuesday, WestNET officers presented him with a search warrant. A police list of seized evidence includes marijuana and related packaging materials, a scale, literature and some ammunition but no gun.

Estes scoffed at the police version of what precipitated Tuesday's truck bust.

"Confidential tip? They could have asked me," Estes said. "We operate openly.

"That 'confidential tip' was from a police officer who sat across the street watching. I see them there all the time."

Estes said one or two police cars, sometimes marked, other times not, usually prowl around his store.

"Sometimes, they're in our parking lot," he said.

In 1996, the state's voters approved marijuana for medical use on the recommendation of a doctor. State Senate Bill 420 in 2003 set guidelines for distributing the drug. The federal government, however, considers marijuana an illegal drug with no medical application.

Richmond has no cannabis club-regulating ordinance. Administrative officials have said the clubs are therefore illegal, but they have not enforced a cease-and-desist order against Holistic Solutions issued May 16.

Other cities have held that without an ordinance, there is no legal basis to control or ban the clubs. Estes said he considers Richmond's cease-and-desist order illegal.


<hr class=postrule>
<small>Reach Tom Lochner at 510-262-2760 or tlochner@cctimes.com. </small>

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