Santa Cruz-based pot facility eyes Ryan Ranch medical marijuana site.
Thursday, April 15, 2010
The fight to bring medical marijuana to Monterey County has pitted patient activists and entrepreneurs against Peninsula cities. But now that Monterey and P.G. are considering regulating medical pot, the battle lines are shifting, with co-ops competing for a chance to set up shop.
Local 800-pound gorilla, Greenway Compassionate Care of Santa Cruz, is eying Ryan Ranch for a Monterey expansion, says Scott Wade, Greenway’s security director. “It’s a medical community over there – off the beaten path. We want to be visible, but not like that other place that opened, the storefront. That doesn’t seem right to us.” Greenway reps – with high-priced attorneys in tow – are regulars at Monterey City Council meetings, offering assistance as the city crafts proposed rules for medical marijuana facilities.
Monterey officials are consulting other cities’ regulations on issues like the total number of co-ops allowed, security and distance from schools.
The city of Santa Cruz is considering a requirement that dispensaries provide proof they operate as nonprofits, as California law requires. Still, financial disclosures required of most nonprofits, like the compensation of top staffers, are unavailable – because medical marijuana is illegal under federal law, dispensaries can’t get federal nonprofit status and don’t file the same tax forms as other nonprofits.
Greenway’s Wade says he’s paid about $60,000 a year, but says he can’t reveal much else about the group’s finances. Still, he says, Greenway is already considering how it might operate post-November if voters approve an initiative that would legalize marijuana for recreational use. He says the dispensary might sell the recreational stuff to finance free and low-cost cannabis for medical patients.
My Caregiver, the embattled Lighthouse Avenue cannabis co-op, is still open pending appeal of a court order barring its operation. The co-op was already running last December when the city discovered it was a medical cannabis facility, and went to court to shut it down, arguing that it was not a permitted land use in the city. Its bylaws provide for three top officials to earn $10,000 per month. But co-op member Brenda Carr says that’s a cap – the men are now basically working for free.
Both groups have given the city rules of operation which provide for tight security and screening of would-be patients, and hosted city officials in their facilities. Greenway showed off its state-of-the-art lab where it sorts out moldy, mildewed or pesticide-laden products. And My Caregiver was pronounced neat and orderly by its municipal visitors.
As to how Monterey would choose which facilities might get the go-ahead, city planner Chip Rerig says, “We’re still hashing it out – no pun intended.”