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  1. Alfa
    HEMPERY'S CLOSURE MEANS ANOTHER POT SUPPLIER STAYS

    Hayward's Remaining Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Already Busier Because
    of Reduced Number in Oakland

    HAYWARD -- Patients and employees at a downtown medical marijuana
    dispensary were elated Tuesday after learning that the city is allowing the
    facility to operate for an additional two years.

    "We're very excited," said Jane Weirick, owner of Hayward Patients'
    Resource Center. "Now we can start thinking about programs we want to offer
    long-term."

    The news came on the heels of the city's revocation of an agreement with
    the landmark Hayward Hempery, which would have allowed its medical
    marijuana dispensary to operate through December 2006 under specific
    circumstances.

    The decade-old Hempery, which was on the corner of B Street and Foothill
    Boulevard, violated the grandfathering agreement with the city by never
    getting a business license, said City Manager Jesus Armas.

    Hempery owner Cheryl Adams was evicted from her building and faces felony
    drug possession charges stemming from an arrest in Fremont late last year.

    Since the Hempery is no longer authorized to operate, the city gave its
    three-year grandfathering time limit to Weirick's HPRC. That was part of an
    agreement the City Council made with three dispensaries it sanctioned last
    year amid a public debate about how to handle a sprouting number of
    downtown dispensaries.

    The Hempery and Local Patients Cooperative - also downtown on Foothill
    Boulevard - were both grandfathered for three years, or until December
    2006, as long as they follow a list of regulations. HPRC, which was a
    newcomer to the scene, was grandfathered for only one year - until now.

    "I'm encouraged by (the news)," said a Hayward patient nicknamed "Quizmo,"
    who declined to give his real name. "Safe access is the point."

    Shane, 29, of Newark, who asked that his last name not be used, added that
    patients like him can now count on the HPRC being there. He has been using
    marijuana for his chronic gout for three years under a doctor's recommendation.

    Adams has been unavailable for comment -- none of her four business or
    cellular phone numbers is connected.

    In the meantime, Ron Ikebe, who owns the former Hempery building, said he's
    been fixing it up while it's in escrow. He intends to sell the building to
    the owner of the adjacent building -- where HPRC is located.

    The buyer's Realtor, Michael Tanzillo, said his c
    lient plans to fix up the
    building and lease it to a tenant who would feed off traffic from the
    planned Cinema Place movie theater complex across the street.

    A preliminary hearing in Adam's drug possession case is scheduled for June
    11 at the Fremont Hall of Justice.

    Two Dispensaries Remain

    The Hempery's closure leaves just two city-sanctioned downtown
    dispensaries, whose owners have agreed to a list of guidelines. Some of
    those include limiting the amount of pot on-site to 3 pounds per day,
    banning advertising and encouraging patients not to smoke on-site.

    Left out of that agreement was a dispensary downtown in Main Street coffee
    shop. It remains in operation despite earlier talk of plans to move to
    unincorporated Alameda County.

    Bob Swanson, an aide to Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley, said there
    seems to be some growing political support among a couple of City Council
    and Chamber of Commerce members to allow Main Street to stay.

    But that's not the read Armas has on the council, he said, adding that the
    city has no plans to revisit the grandfathering agreement.

    There are also now three known dispensaries operating in unincorporated
    Alameda County -- one on Lewelling Boulevard and two new ones on East 14th
    Street, Swanson said. They made it through a recent county code enforcement
    officer inspection, Swanson said, adding that Miley plans to work on some
    county regulations for medical marijuana dispensaries.

    Demand Up

    Like Hayward's, the dispensaries in the unincorporated area are likely to
    be even busier now that Oakland is closing all but four of its pot
    dispensaries, said Jeff Jones, executive director of the Oakland Cannabis
    Buyers Cooperative.

    "There is a runoff to Hayward," he said, adding that he has been sending
    South Bay residents to Hayward because there are no dispensaries in San
    Jose. "And for lack of a better term, there's a 'Haysterdam' zone -- three
    dispensaries in a couple-block area. And there's good parking and quality
    service."

    Weirick said she has already noticed an increase in patients since
    Oakland's June 1 ordinance limiting the number of permits to dispensaries
    took effect.

    "Oh, yeah. We've had three-or four-dozen new people I've never seen
    before," she said, adding that it's going to be challenging to meet the
    3-pound limit.

    Shon Squier, who owns Local Patients Cooperative, said he's had trouble
    with the 3-pound limit since the beginning, especially in light of business
    taxes. There's no sales tax on marijuana.

    "The business is always picking up," Squier said, adding that the limit
    makes it hard to keep all of the different marijuana strains on hand.

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