County ponders licensing Peninsula pot club

| October 16, 2010

One after another, medical marijuana clubs on the Peninsula have gone up in smoke.

Though there are dozens of places to get medical cannabis in the counties to the north and south — and in recent years there were several on the Peninsula — there is no longer a single known outlet within San Mateo County.

The proponent of a new collective in unincorporated Redwood City is hoping to change that on Monday when he seeks approval from the county’s licensing board for a dispensary near Bay Road and Hurlingame Avenue.

It’s Bradley Ehikian’s second attempt to open a collective, after his first bid at 2991 El Camino Real on the border of Redwood City and Atherton was rejected by the board in May, Sheriff’s Office spokesman Tom Merson said.

If he succeeds, Ehikian would be the first person to open a dispensary under the county’s medical marijuana ordinance passed in April 2009, which sets a variety of restrictions on the clubs.

Among its provisions, the ordinance requires that the collectives be located at least 1,000 feet from a school, recreation center or youth center and have security measures like an alarm system and bars on windows.

The Peninsula’s most recent collective — Blue Heaven Coastside in Moss Beach — closed after the county board voted in April to deny its license.

At one point there were three medical marijuana operations in unincorporated Redwood City, but by December 2009, two had moved out and a third had its license denied by the county.

Before that, federal agents raided and shut down three medical marijuana outlets in the city of San Mateo in 2007.

With the lack of availability on the Peninsula, patients will have to either forego using cannabis, drive to another county or get it off the street illegally, said Kris Hermes, a spokesman with Americans for Safe Access — an Oakland-based medical marijuana advocacy group.

“It’s a serious problem and local officials ought to readdress this issue so facilities can locate more easily in the area and patients can be better served,” Hermes said.

Cities have taken a variety of approaches to regulation, with San Mateo and San Carlos adopting their own regulations and others declaring bans or temporary moratoriums on the clubs.

Hermes said he believes the 2007 raids in San Mateo, carried out with the cooperation of local law enforcement, had a chilling effect on future clubs.

He said his group is generally supportive of “fair and sensible” regulations on medical marijuana clubs, though officials should consider “rethinking and retooling their local laws so that some access can be made available for patients in their community.”

Weed whacked

Some of the Peninsula cities that have enacted bans, moratoriums or ordinances to deal with medical marijuana clubs:

Ordinances
- San Mateo
- San Carlos
- San Mateo County

Moratoriums

- Daly City
- Half Moon Bay
- Los Altos
- Mountain View
- Redwood City
- San Bruno
- South San Francisco
- Sunnyvale

Bans
- Millbrae

Source: Americans for Safe Access

sbishop@sfexaminer.com

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