Pubdate: Mon, 29 Nov 2010
Source: Marin Independent Journal (CA)
Copyright: 2010 Marin Independent Journal


Corte Madera has signed a settlement agreement allowing a Tamal Plaza
medical marijuana dispensary to stay open until June 2014, so long as
it hands over a portion of gross sales and doesn't accept new patients
under 21, among other requirements.

Marin Superior Court Judge James Ritchie on Monday approved the
agreement among Corte Madera, Marin Holistic Solutions operator
Verdance Inc. and landlord Francisco Properties, officials said.

"Given the rapidly escalating costs of this litigation, the Town
Council believed its fiscal obligations compelled re-assessing the
wisdom of further prosecuting its case to remove (Marin Holistic
Solutions) from the town, when ... it could achieve the same result --
albeit later than the town had initially envisioned," Town Manager
David Bracken said in a statement.

Under the agreement, Marin Holistic can continue operating in an
office complex at 200 Tamal Plaza until May 31, 2014, when its lease
expires. But it must label all marijuana products with warnings and
install video cameras and a burglar alarm system. It cannot accept any
new members under age 21 or put up signs outside the building.

The collective, which opened in 2009, previously allowed patients over
18 to buy medical marijuana with a doctor's approval, managers have

Beginning in January 2013, Marin Holistic also must hand over 1.4
percent of its gross receipts to Corte Madera, with 25 percent going
to drug and alcohol education.

The town will use the remaining 75 percent for general fund

Bracken noted he isn't sure how much that sum will come to, saying,
"it's not a tremendous amount, but it does add to the coffers."

Dorji Roberts, an attorney representing Marin Holistic, said he also
is unsure how much money will go to Corte Madera.

"Certainly, we're pleased that they'll be able to stay open for
three-and-a-half years, (although) we would have preferred that the
town not initiate the litigation," Roberts said. "We hope that the
town takes a hard look at this issue and comes to the conclusion that
they should be allowed to remain and continue to serve their patients
after the (agreement) ends."

Margaret Weems, the landlord's attorney, said her client is also
pleased with the settlement, which dismisses him as a defendant.

"It seems like all of the stakeholders here -- commercial landlords,
the town's 'silent majority' who support safe access, patients and
concerned parents all came away with something that they can point to
and say 'this is good,'" Weems said in an e-mail.

Corte Madera already receives one cent of every taxable dollar from
Marin Holistic through the state Board of Equalization -- "the same
sales tax that everyone else is paying," Town Treasurer George Warman

Should the Corte Madera Town Council decide to permit and regulate
medical marijuana dispensaries, Marin Holistic may apply for
permission to operate beyond June 2014, the agreement states.

In May, Corte Madera's Planning Commission began considering an
ordinance regulating medical marijuana dispensaries that would have
allowed Marin Holistic and Going Green, a second dispensary that
opened in the same complex, to apply for licensing. However, the Town
Council later voted in closed session to authorize cease-and-desist
letters that warned the clubs to stop operating by June 25, Town
Attorney Jeffrey Walter said at the time.

On July 16, Walter filed a complaint in Marin Superior Court to stop
Marin Holistic from storing, cultivating or distributing medical
marijuana, which the town says are not permitted uses under current
zoning code. Going Green wasn't sued because it had already moved out
of the complex.

Both supporters and opponents of Marin Holistic said they were happy
with Monday's settlement agreement.

Laurie Dubin, who works on drug and alcohol education for the Redwood
High School Parent-Teacher-Student Association and has been a vocal
opponent of the dispensary, said she is pleased about the new 21-plus
age requirement and the money going to substance-abuse prevention.

"Given the cost of litigation, I think that the town made the best
that they could out of this situation," Dubin said. "I'm thrilled at
the 21 years of age requirement."

Meanwhile, Mill Valley resident Barbara Summers, 64, said she's
relieved she will still be able to buy edible medical marijuana
products for her sciatica, anxiety and sleep problems at Marin Holistic.

"It's the most convenient (dispensary) in Marin," Summers said. "It's
totally clean, professional. ... As far as I'm concerned, it's a pharmacy."

Earlier this month, the Corte Madera passed a moratorium on new
medical marijuana dispensaries.

Fairfax, home to the 13-year-old dispensary Marin Alliance for Medical
Marijuana, passed a similar moratorium on new pot clubs in October.

Fairfax receives the standard 1 percent of Marin Alliance's sales tax
and doesn't get any extra money from the club, Town Manager Michael
Rock said, noting that the dispensary is among the town's "top 10"
sales tax producers.

"We do receive their fair share of the state sales tax," Rock said.
"It's a significant (number), relatively speaking. We're a small town."

Warman noted that Marin Holistic is not one of the top sales tax
producers in Corte Madera, which is home to the Town Center Corte
Madera and the Village at Corte Madera shopping centers.
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake