Weed Wars

Dispatches from the California Marijuana Front

March 10, 2010
Proposed dispensary limit to stir Sacramento meeting, rally

PK_MONEY 0176.JPGDeliberations over how Sacramento will deal with its burgeoning dispensary trade are expected to heat up tomorrow evening at the old City Hall building.

Medical marijuana use advocates and dispensary officials were planning a pre-meeting rally Thursday at Cesar Chavez Park. Then, in a 6 p.m. session, city staff and representatives for pot stores are to discuss plans for an ordinance regulating local marijuana outlets.

The city imposed - and extended - a moratorium on new outlets after 39 dispensaries opened doors in town by last summer. The number of pot clubs that registered under the moratorium was twice what city officials originally thought were operating in town.

Though no decision is expected Thursday, a proposal being circulated could cap the number of dispensaries in the capital city at a dozen.

That concerns Sonny Kumar, co-founder of the El Camino Wellness Center, a dispenary that opened in 2008.

"The city was willing to admit our existence with a registration," said Kumar, who said his 6,000-patient marijuana collective was the 10th dispensary to open in Sacramento. "If they (dispensaries) were able to register with the city, they should be able to stay open."

Sacramento is grappling over how many dispensaries to allow and how to govern them as a major city to the south seeks to close as many 800 cannabis stores. Los Angeles' troubles have piqued interest in how the capital will handle the issue.

One local dispensary operator, Bryan Davies, who founded of the Canna Care dispensary in Sacramento five years ago, said he is already getting calls and drop-ins from people from L.A. wondering if it's worth trying to relocate to the capital city.

"The ones getting closed down in Los Angeles are coming up and feeling out the territory," Davies said. "They're asking: 'How is the climate?'"

It doesn't appear all too welcoming. A proposal being studied would both cap the number of dispensaries and set strict restrictions to keep pot shops from operating near schools, churches and youth facilities.

To view an interactive map on Sacramento medical marijuana facilities, click here.

Pictured: The medicine at a Sacramento dispensary. Paul Kitagaki Jr/pkitagaki@sacbee.com

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