Pubdate: Wed, 18 Aug 2010
Source: Appeal-Democrat (Marysville, CA)
Copyright: 2010 Appeal-Democrat
Author: Nancy Pasternack, Appeal-Democrat


A vocal standing-room-only crowd at Marysville City Hall gave the
public comment microphone a rare workout Tuesday night, as one by one,
area residents supported a medical marijuana dispensary that has been
operating in the city since late 2009.

The comments varied from polite pleas that the city drop its lawsuit
against Norcal Health and Wellness Collective and allow the facility
to continue operating, to passionate accusations of corruption among
law enforcement and the Marysville City Council.

"Please allow Norcal to remain open," said one. "And as an
afterthought, could somebody please drain Ellis Lake?"

One woman angrily claimed that law enforcement supplies the area's

About 60 medical marijuana advocates in all were in attendance to
support an appeal to the city's lawsuit, which claims the facility has
operated without a business license or conditional use permit.

The council voted unanimously to deny the appeal.

Marysville's lawsuit, which names Norcal -- as well as the property
owner, a bank, a title company and a doctor -- seeks general and
punitive damages totaling more than $25,000 and an injunction to close
the facility.

The suit also alleges the defendants, "have threatened to, and will,
unless restrained ... continue to maintain the nuisance."

The conduct, it goes on to say, "is willful, oppressive, and

Joey Leon, one of Norcal's operators who also spoke on behalf of
property owner Carothers Investments, defended the company, which he
said is a nonprofit organization.

"We don't believe we are a nuisance," he said, in response to
accusations that Norcal violates a nuisance abatement code. "There's
nothing that we did that was illegal."

"We use all-natural herbs to heal our remedies and our maladies," Leon

When confronted with questions about whether he had represented the
nature of his business honestly when applying for a license, Leon
admitted he had not mentioned the marijuana part.

Norcal, when applying for a business license for its location at Ninth
and I streets -- across from the Yuba County Government Center -- had
initially been pitched as a counseling and self-help group, according
to city officials.

The Norcal advocates present Tuesday sat among motorsports business
owners and advocates who had come to attend a later agenda item, as
well as members of Citizens to Preserve Marysville's Parks, one Boy
Scout in uniform and one woman who opposed Norcal.

Karen Liggett of east Marysville said she was the mother of a
drug-addicted son who began smoking marijuana at age 13 and then moved
on to harder drugs.

His decline, she said, "was all because of marijuana."

Liggett answered repeated boos and heckling from the crowd during her
time at the podium.

The dispensary, she said, "is going to be by a school, and those kids
are going to see all this drug activity."

Norcal, Liggett said later, "is just trying to become a legal drug

Mike Kanada of Live Oak had a different take on things.

"I make a motion that you reinstate the license," he said. "You're
ignoring the voice of the people."

Marijuana, he said, "is an herb. An herb is many herbs. If you look it
up in the dictionary that we've had for years and years, it says, 'herbs.'"

Joey Mills of Colusa County said she had been diagnosed in May 2009
with cancer of the throat and lungs and given less than six months to

On Tuesday, the diminutive woman's breathing was aided by nasal tubes
and a device strapped to her back.

Medical marijuana, she said, "afforded me the opportunity not to have
to go on about 15 medications."

It also, Mills said, caused several large tumors that impeded her
breathing to disappear.

She traveled to a dispensary in Sacramento, she said, until she
learned about the new one in Marysville.

"They don't just want to turn everybody into potheads," she said.
"Please don't close this place down."

Marijuana's dispensary, argued Gregory Scott of Marysville, "will cut
down on the people who are selling it illegally."

"As a person in the community, I feel more comfortable when at least
we know where it is and who has access to it."

Several argued that the city is in desperate need of the tax revenues
generated by the facility.

"We're going to get it (marijuana) either way. Why not keep it (the
money) in the community?" said Tracie Quinn.

Quinn said marijuana has helped alleviate extreme pain from her
medical problems, and allowed her to be a functioning parent.

"You may not understand this," she said to the council, "until you're
in our shoes." 
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