Pubdate: Wed, 09 Feb 2011
Source: Times-Herald, The (Vallejo, CA)
Copyright: 2011 The Times-Herald
Author: Tony Burchyns


Four months after a judge ordered a Vallejo medical marijuana
dispensary to shut down, the city still is trying to collect about
$80,000 in fines from the establishment's operator and landlord.

The next court hearing was set for today in Vallejo.

Meanwhile, several other dispensaries continue to operate --
illegally, in the city's view -- within city limits.

So, why hasn't the city done anything about it?

A large-scale crackdown could require more police and administrative
resources during a budget crisis. Also, some policymakers say they
want to develop a long-term approach before encouraging more litigation.

On the other hand, the Vallejo City Council didn't hesitate to sue
Stan the Man's Collective marijuana dispensary more than a year ago
when the City Attorney's office raised the issue.

As a result, untold hours and resources have gone into litigating the
case. And the matter is likely to drag on. Today, a Solano Superior
Court judge may be asked to grant the defense more time because they
switched attorneys Tuesday.

Defendant Stan Eby operated the Stan the Man's Collective on Warren
Avenue in south Vallejo for more than a year. Eby said it's "unfair"
that the city is demanding he pay financial penalties while letting
other dispensaries continue operating. Eby, who's in his 90s and lives
in Vallejo on a fixed income, also said there's no way he could pay
tens of thousands of dollars in fines.

Eby's lawyer, San Francisco defense attorney Danny Schultz, said he's
still studying the case. He added that he doesn't know what legal
advice he'll give to his client at this point. However, Schultz
questioned why the city hasn't gone after other dispensaries and why
the case is being litigated absent a clear policy.

Vallejo Interim City Manager Phil Batchelor did not return a call
Tuesday asking why the city hasn't cracked down on all the other
cooperatives if the city believes they are operating illegally. City
zoning laws don't permit the establishments.

Mayor Osby Davis said there should be a crackdown. As to why there
hasn't been one, Davis said it is not a matter of "a lack of
resources, but a question of what the position of the city will be."

Davis, a local attorney, added if he had it his way "the city would be
going after all dispensaries." Davis added he is not in favor of
medical cannabis clubs. He said the drug might help sick people, but
it should be dispensed through pharmacies, if at all.

Davis says that allowing, or even tacitly condoning cooperatives,
could discourage businesses from coming to Vallejo at a time when the
city is seeking private sector investors to help the city recover from

Davis was one of four Vallejo elected officials who attended a
community meeting on medical pot dispensaries Monday night. Speakers
discussed the pros and cons of regulating pot clubs or banning them

The council has yet to hold any public hearings on the

Ken Estes, a friend of Eby's who helped start Stan the Man's in 2009,
said it's "outrageous" that the city only is targeting one dispensary.

"Stan's pretty upset about that," Estes said. "He wants to keep
fighting it. Now there are 14 dispensaries and there's talk about
coming up with an ordinance (to regulate cooperatives)? I feel sorry
for Stan."

Estes, who directs the GDP Collective in Richmond, said that city just
approved a permit and fee structure for dispensaries that could cost
him tens of thousands of dollars a year to stay in business there.
Still, he said he plans to apply for a Richmond permit to be in
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