Pubdate: Thu, 22 Jan 2009
Source: Alameda Times-Star, The (CA)
Copyright: 2009 ANG Newspapers
Author: Michele Ellson
Bookmark: (Marijuana - Medicinal)


The city of Alameda has issued an order revoking the  Purple Elephant
medical marijuana dispensary's business  license. But the dispensary
has appealed the decision  and remains open.

A date for the appeal, which will be heard by the city  manager, the
mayor and the city's finance director, has  not yet been set. If the
dispensary's owner were to  lose that appeal, he could appeal directly
to the City  Council.

Ann Marie Gallant, the city's interim finance director  and the person
responsible for making the decision,  said in a letter to the
dispensary's owner that he  failed to disclose the true nature of his
business on  his license application as required by city codes. She
also said he failed to get the required zoning  clearance for the
dispensary from the city's Planning  and Building Department.

"The business license application you submitted did not  set forth the
true and complete facts, and therefore  the document you received
purporting to be a business  license is invalid," Gallant wrote.

Gallant said Luke Coleman's listing of his business as  "miscellaneous
retail" on his license application was  untruthful.

"The phrase 'miscellaneous retail' suggests that a  variety of lawful,
noncontroversial items will be sold.  In contrast, the sale of
marijuana -- for any reason,  medical or otherwise - is a federal
crime," she wrote.

The dispensary's owner, Coleman, did not return a call  seeking
comment. But his attorney, Ed Higginbotham, said his client has done
nothing wrong.

"We deny that we have done any wrong, lied to anybody,  deceived
anybody, or done anything illegal or immoral,"  Higginbotham said.

Higginbotham accused the city of denying his client due  process
rights, because city employees asked for the  revocation, held the
hearing and were responsible for  the decision.

Gallant's letter said he argued that the city has no  law that
specifically applies to medical marijuana  dispensaries, allowing him
to list his business as  "miscellaneous retail." The letter said he
argued that  the state created the label "to avoid arousing  suspicion
under federal law" and that he was advised by  his attorney to use

According to the letter, Coleman claimed he told  business and
planning staff verbally that he planned to  open a marijuana
dispensary, which Gallant dismissed as  not credible.

Higginbotham said he did not wish to comment on the  contents of the
letter. But he contended the Purple  Elephant is the best-run
dispensary in the Bay Area and  that it provides the city badly needed
tax revenue.

Coleman's business license for the Webster Street  dispensary was
issued on July 11, 2008.

The City Council adopted a moratorium on additional  dispensaries so
it can create rules governing how, or  if, they can set up shop on the
Island. An ordinance is  not due to be completed until June 2010.
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake