Pubdate: Fri, 16 Oct 2015
Source: Times-Herald, The (Vallejo, CA)
Copyright: 2015 The Times-Herald
Author: John Glidden


These days, Scott Foster may be holding on to the most important 
piece of paper in the city of Vallejo.

Earlier this month, Foster's medical marijuana dispensary, US Bloom 
Collective, was deemed to be in good standing under the city's 
recently adopted ordinance regulating dispensaries in Vallejo.

The letter allows the collective to conduct commercial cannabis 
activity with the city, and grants US Bloom limited immunity from 
local civil prosecution.

"It's a big honor," Foster said. "It's great to be the first 
dispensary allowed in Vallejo and operating in the county of Solano."

The city has argued that all dispensaries in Vallejo are operating 
illegally, since Vallejo's zoning law does not recognize MMDs as an 
appropriate land use.

Foster said the application process was "very rigourous."

In July, the council adopted an ordinance grandfathering in certain 
MMDs in the city. These dispensaries must have obtained a marijuana 
tax certificate before an April 2013 city moratorium stopped the 
issuance of the certificates.

Dispensaries must also have paid city, and state taxes on cannabis, 
submitted documentation for fire and building compliance, have owners 
and managers pass a criminal background check, and each MMD must have 
adopted security measures. While Foster was pleased with the letter 
of good standing, he expressed some frustration over what he sees as 
inconsistencies in the process so far.

In March, Vallejo City Attorney Claudia Quintana sent out cease and 
desist letters to all MMD owners in the city. Months prior, the 
Vallejo City Council, in a 5-2 vote - opposed by Councilmembers 
Robert McConnell and Katy Miessner - decided to shut down all MMDs in 
the city - even if they were compiling with the Measure C tax.

In 2011, city voters approved Measure C, which imposes a business 
license tax rate of 10 percent on the sales of medical marijuana 
products within the city.

Located at 1201 Springs Road, US Bloom closed to be in compliance 
with the city order, which "cost me a lot of money," Foster said.

He added that he lost patients, while other MMDs defied the order and 
remained open.

He suggested that any those dispensaries - which might also receive a 
letter of good standing and didn't follow the closure letter - should 
pay Measure C taxes retroactively to the time when the cease and 
desist order letter was issued.

US Bloom has the distinct honor of paying the first Measure C taxes, 
which are due on Oct. 20. The council in the same January 2015 
meeting voted 6-1 - with McConnell opposed - to stop issuing Measure 
C tax certificates to new applicants and stop renewing certificates 
to MMDs which hold a valid tax certificate. Advertisement

Foster said he is worried that MMDs seeking a letter of good standing 
have the ability to remain open, and not have to pay the Measure C 
tax until they are deemed compliant.

"It's unfair," he said.

During Tuesday's council meeting, Donna Mooney, chief assistant city 
attorney, said that more letters of good standing are "expected to go 
out soon."

She confirmed that there was a delay with fingerprinting or criminal 
background requirements. "It's taken a bit longer than anticipated," she said.

In the meantime, Foster said he wished to see members of the city 
council come to the dispensary and learn about cannabis.

"I challenge each and every one of them, show up to at least three 
dispensaries (in the city)," he said. "Don't watch a TV show for an 
hour (about cannabis) and (then) decide on millions of dollars of 
city tax money. Get educated about the medical cannabis industry to 
make legitimate decision about millions of dollars. This is not some 
fly-by-night industry - it's here to stay."

He said his employees go through rigorous education before they 
receive a pay increase and to better assist patients.

"We don't want them (the patients) to over-medicate," Foster added. 
"We do our research."
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom