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Santa Rosa pot dispensary can stay open – for now

Valley of the Moon Collective

By STEVE HART
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Sonoma County has lost a bid to shut down a medical marijuana dispensary on the eastern outskirts of Santa Rosa, where it has been operating for months without a permit.

A judge ruled earlier this month that Valley of the Moon Collective can stay open while it seeks a county permit.

But county planners are recommending against a permit for the pot club, saying it’s too close to homes and a martial arts studio that serves about 60 children. Under terms of a March 3 court order, the dispensary must shut its doors if it can’t get a permit.

A hearing is scheduled April 28 in Santa Rosa before the county Board of Zoning Adjustments.

Supporters are circulating a petition asking that the dispensary be allowed to stay. But some neighbors oppose the business, saying it doesn’t fit in the semi-rural location.

The nonprofit marijuana dispensary opened last September in Valley of the Moon Plaza, a small retail center at Highway 12 and Melita Road, between the Skyhawk and Oakmont subdivisions. It is located in county territory just outside Santa Rosa’s city limits.

The cooperative is made up of local patients, said Scot Candell, a San Rafael attorney who represents Valley of the Moon Collective.

Its website said the group “is committed to providing natural alternative medicines in a physically safe and socially responsible manner, following all state and local laws.”

Another online directory shows it offers different varieties of marijuana with names such as “Headband,” “Trainwreck,” “Purple Hammer,” “Mendo Madness,” “Twinkie” and “Grape Ape.”

Staff members who declined to give their names said Monday it serves many elderly patients, including people from the nearby Oakmont and Spring Lake Village retirement communities. They said there haven’t been any problems since it opened last fall.

But a medical marijuana dispensary doesn’t belong in the same building as a martial arts studio that caters to children, said Monica Miramontez, who owns Miramontez Family Taekwondo & Fitness Center, three doors down from the collective. About 60 children take her classes, she said.

“Parents aren’t comfortable letting their kids walk around here,” said Miramontez.

Miramontez, who has operated the studio for 8 years, said she can’t afford to move. The commercial center also has a dry cleaner, frame shop, gas station and convenience store.

Sonoma County filed suit against the dispensary in February, following a complaint and inspection by a code enforcement officer. The business doesn’t have a permit and is in violation of zoning laws, the county said.

The collective responded that it tried to obtain a use permit but was told none were available because the county’s medical marijuana ordinance had been struck down by the courts.

Candell said the dispensary was following state law and guidelines from the state Attorney General’s office.

The county’s medical marijuana ordinance has since been upheld and the collective applied for a permit.

Superior Court Judge Rene Chouteau ruled the collective can stay open until the county acts on its application.

In a letter last month to the collective, county planner Steve Padovan said his department will recommend denial because the location doesn’t meet county standards.

Under the rules, marijuana dispensaries can’t be within 100 feet of homes or within 1,000 feet of a facility that primarily serves people under age 18.





15 Responses to “Santa Rosa pot dispensary can stay open – for now”

  1. Joseph says:

    I wouldn’t care what people do in their own homes, However the armed home invasions are getting very old as well as very frequent. Not to mention the huge ecological damage being done by the growing operations. Plus the county is paying out millions to care for the people who are phycotic by drug use and the mental health and legal systems are overwhelmed by the patient load.
    As always it is a gateway drug every bit as bad as ethenol, a drug in the same class as barbituates, the substance in our alcoholic beverages that produce intoxication.
    The long and short, we all pay huge sums so a few can pollute themselves at our expense.

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  2. bats555 says:

    Legalize all drugs, we spend billions of dollars to stop the drugs coming into this country and we stop less than 2%. Check out this link where William F.Buckley (ultra conservative) on his reasons to legalize drugs:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3OH6SDGqcM

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  3. Sean says:

    To Hammer, MJ is Legal for personal use in Peru and Columbia. Here is a link with the breakdown. . . .http://matadornetwork.com/nights/guide-to-smoking-pot-around-the-world/
    People with medical MJ recommendations should not be treated any different than someone on Prozac or Lipitor.
    Sean

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  4. Steele says:

    My issue is less with the pot because I believe its a personal choice, my issue is with the regulation and taxation.

    The production and sale of alcohol is strictly regulated and heavily taxed. The same should apply with pot. I seriously doubt the growers are reporting their income honestly and paying income taxes, I also doubt sales tax is being collected.

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  5. Dee Jay says:

    Does Monica Miramontez object to Alcohol being sold in the same shopping center?

    If she does not, or has never voiced her concern of Alcohol being sold near her business, than she is not only a hypocrite, but she is disingenuous.

    I will inform anyone I know who is looking for a martial Arts studio to avoid her business, and warn other parents in the area that the Martial Arts studio owner is fighting another citizens right to operate a legal and safe collective following States laws.

    Thousands of responsible law abiding citizens of Santa Rosa use Medicinal Marijuana, and have the legal right to do so, and have the right to safe access to their medicines.

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  6. Keith says:

    A history leson from Wikipedia.

    The use of cannabis, at least as fiber, has been shown to go back at least 10,000 years in Taiwan.[10] Má (Pinyin pronunciation), the Chinese expression for hemp, is a pictograph of two plants under a shelter.[11]Cannabis is indigenous to Central and South Asia.[12] Evidence of the inhalation of cannabis smoke can be found in the 3rd millennium B.C], as indicated by charred cannabis seeds found in a ritual brazier at an ancient burial site in present day Romania.[8] Cannabis is also known to have been used by the ancient Hindus and Nihang Sikhs of India and Nepal thousands of years ago. The herb was called ganjika in Sanskrit (गांजा/গাঁজা ganja in modern Indic languages).[13][14] The ancient drug soma, mentioned in the Vedas, was sometimes associated with cannabis.[15]

    Cannabis was also known to the ancient Assyrians, who discovered its psychoactive properties through the Aryans.[16] Using it in some religious ceremonies, they called it qunubu (meaning “way to produce smoke”), a probable origin of the modern word “cannabis”.[17] Cannabis was also introduced by the Aryans to the Scythians and Thracians/Dacians, whose shamans (the kapnobatai—”those who walk on smoke/clouds”) burned cannabis flowers to induce a state of trance.[18] Members of the cult of Dionysus, believed to have originated in Thrace (Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey), are also thought to have inhaled cannabis smoke. In 2003, a leather basket filled with cannabis leaf fragments and seeds was found next to a 2,500- to 2,800-year-old mummified shaman in the northwestern Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region of China.[19][20]

    Cannabis sativa from Vienna Dioscurides, 512 A.D.Cannabis has an ancient history of ritual use and is found in pharmacological cults around the world. Hemp seeds discovered by archaeologists at Pazyryk suggest early ceremonial practices like eating by the Scythians occurred during the 5th to 2nd century B.C., confirming previous historical reports by Herodotus.[21] One writer has claimed that cannabis was used as a religious sacrament by ancient Jews and early Christians[6][22] due to the similarity between the Hebrew word “qannabbos” (“cannabis”) and the Hebrew phrase “qené bósem” (“aromatic cane”). It was used by Muslims in various Sufi orders as early as the Mamluk period, for example by the Qalandars.[23]

    A study published in the South African Journal of Science showed that “pipes dug up from the garden of Shakespeare’s home in Stratford-upon-Avon contain traces of cannabis.”[24] The chemical analysis was carried out after researchers hypothesized that the “noted weed” mentioned in Sonnet 76 and the “journey in my head” from Sonnet 27 could be references to cannabis and the use thereof.[25]

    Cannabis was criminalized in various countries beginning in the early 20th century. It was outlawed in South Africa in 1911, in Jamaica (then a British colony) in 1913, and in the United Kingdom and New Zealand in the 1920s.[26] Canada criminalized marijuana in the Opium and Drug Act of 1923, before any reports of use of the drug in Canada. In 1925 a compromise was made at an international conference in The Hague about the International Opium Convention that banned exportation of “Indian hemp” to countries that had prohibited its use, and requiring importing countries to issue certificates approving the importation and stating that the shipment was required “exclusively for medical or scientific purposes”. It also required parties to “exercise an effective control of such a nature as to prevent the illicit international traffic in Indian hemp and especially in the resin”.[27][28]

    In the United States the first restrictions for sale of cannabis came in 1906 (in District of Columbia).[29] In 1937, the Marijuana Transfer Tax Act was passed, and prohibited the production of hemp in addition to marijuana. The reasons that hemp was also included in this law are disputed. The Federal Bureau of Narcotics agents reported that fields with hemp were also used as a source for marijuana dealers[citation needed]. Several scholars have claimed that the Act was passed in order to destroy the hemp industry,[30][31][32] largely as an effort of businessmen Andrew Mellon, Randolph Hearst, and the Du Pont family.[30][32] With the invention of the decorticator, hemp became a very cheap substitute for the paper pulp that was used in the newspaper industry.[30][33] Hearst felt that this was a threat to his extensive timber holdings. Mellon, Secretary of the Treasury and the wealthiest man in America, had invested heavily in the DuPont’s new synthetic fiber, nylon, and considered its success to depend on its replacement of the traditional resource, hemp

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  7. Kevin says:

    What hypocrisy! Where are such restrictions for alcohol sales? Anyone who cares about the truth knows that alcohol is incalculably more destructive than marijuana. It has destroyed countless lives and families, but it can be purchased, without a license, practically anywhere.
    The need of one part of society to control another part is called bigotry and bigotry is the real problem here.
    This argument is unworthy of a society that dares to call itself free.
    I’m not sure that a business which teaches young children to beat each other up has such impeccable moral standing anyway.

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  8. Pat says:

    Hey lets keep popping pills like tylenol it’s safer right…wait what happen in the 80′s again twice. We should not have to trust companys like johnson and johnson. O and another fact i bet that convenience store sells cigs and alochol lots of drunks driving in and out of there.

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  9. Beef King says:

    I’ve used marijuana daily for over 40 years.
    I’m well known in the community, have raised 4 children to be productive citizens and good people and have been loyal to my country by paying taxes and being a good neighbor.
    Why should I be considered a criminal? Because my government cut a deal with Joe Kennedy 80 years ago? BS.
    Our society is dysfunctional on this issue, and great damage is done making criminals from otherwise good citizens.
    Having dispensaries available for medicinal patients is essential for the person whose body cannot take the side effects of pharmaceutical painkillers, and the pharma equivalent of marijuana is ineffective. Without a dispensary people are forced to put themselves in the company of shady drug dealers to get their pot. This is the real crime.
    Keep the dispensary open and regulate it without the typical corruption by local governments and it will be a benefit to our society.

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  10. B. Davis says:

    I have watched that co-op from the day they opened, not once have i seen any problems at that place , I can see the place from my front yard, funny thing was how many people complained how much riff raff it would bring to the neighborhood after they open , when i informed them that it had been open for two months already they just looked dumbstruck .Let them stay and quit your bitching when you don’t know what the hell your talking about.

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  11. The Hammer says:

    I am sure my following fact will get a lot of disagreement, but here goes.

    Marijuana is not legal anywhere or anyplace on this planet. Before you complain to me please research this fact first. Thanks.

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  12. James Bennett says:

    Marijuana and the internet.The two final frontiers the government has’nt figured out how to control/tax/monopolize.If you really read Prop.19,like everything else in our political landscape-not what it appears.

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  13. Karma says:

    to clarify my post as to why i would bring my child to a place that discriminates against others..that was a typo, why breed hate ? become informed, not blinded . if your mother or family member were dying, and in severe pain, unable to eat, Drs. prescribed pills were no longer working, and if medical marijuana could ease their nausea, enabling them to eat again, would you deny your family member that??

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  14. Karma says:

    the world is changing, medical needs are changing. Pharm companies are ripping off people, drs. getting kickbacks for pushing the pharms.
    why dont you go after your family drs. for prescribing unneeded pills just because it lines the money in their pockets???
    we are not all alike in this great big world, we all have different needs.
    Next will you go after vegetarians because they dont believe in eating meat and in your minds that is different and hence should not be allowed?
    for the martial arts place its publicity to make a big deal out of not wanting it there, would i bring my child to a business that the owners were so close minded and selfish not to think of the medical needs or even the rights of others to do and live as they wish? Yes i would, because we all a right to live freely and make our own choices, without the threat of losing ones livilihood, an for a patient with ALS or cancer to have some relief living with a term. disease, does anyone have the right to deny them that ??
    Think before you start condemning!! Medical Marijuana is not just the picture of a bunch of “hippies” sitting around getting wasted! Its for the elderly, they sick and dying to make their lives a little more bearable.

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  15. Bill Parkhurst says:

    One complaint is not a quorum of existing tenants and constitutes county harassment when the county has failed to offer a legitimate avenue for its demands. Clearly, that area does not have a history of drug abuse. It does have a large population of elderly who would benefit from a pot dispensary medically.

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