By Alfa · Jun 21, 2004 ·
  1. Alfa

    All but One Facility in 'Oaksterdam' Denied City Permits for Distribution

    OAKLAND - New city rules have effectively snuffed out "Oaksterdam" -
    the uptown area's thriving mecca for thousands of medical marijuana

    The triangle between 17th and 19th streets and Broadway and Telegraph
    Avenue was, until recently, home to five busy cannabis clubs. Under
    new regulations that took effect June 1, it appeared three of the
    dispensaries -- along with a fourth one on West Grand -- would
    continue to operate.

    But now just one Oakster dam dispensary will keep its doors open. Two
    others a few blocks outside the district will also get permits.

    City Administrator Deborah Edgerly decided to enforce a provision in
    the new ordinance that prohibits pot clubs from operating within 1,000
    feet of schools, churches, youth-oriented facilities and other

    She denied a permit for the area's largest club, Compassionate
    Caregivers on Telegraph, which had been told it would receive one. And
    she told one owner who operates two clubs that he must close the
    established Bulldog Cafe on Broad-

    way and only run the newer SR71 on 17th Street between Webster and
    Franklin streets.

    California Advocate Relief Exchange at 1900 Telegraph -- next door to
    a charter elementary school that plans to relocate -- will hold the
    sole Oaksterdam permit. CARE is one of the oldest clubs in the
    district and operates on a holistic model, offering massage and free
    meals to needy clients, as well as marijuana.

    "CARE was the first one we gave a permit to, and I was told they were
    the best one and that they were the facility everyone else wanted to
    be like," Edgerly said. "So none of the others could be within 1,000
    feet of them. I was told the school is mov ing, so that is not an issue."

    In addition to SR71, the other permitted club is Compassionate Healing
    Center on West Grand -- better known to clients as "Parking in Rear,"
    because of its only signage.

    The fourth permit allowed by the City Council is up for grabs, and
    confusion and rumors abound as to how it will be granted. One club
    operator said he received a letter stating if he finds an acceptable
    location by July 15, his club will be included in a lottery for the
    fourth permit.

    But Edgerly said that is not true, and she will consider applications
    using the same criteria used all along.

    "I have most of the information I need on
    the clubs, so we would look
    at whether the new building is up to code and meets ADA requirements,"
    she said.

    Jeff Jones, executive director of the Oakland Cannabis Buyers
    Cooperative, said he agrees with the city's attempts at regulation but
    not with how they have been carried out. He is lobbying to raise the
    four-club limit.

    "They are dispersing what I consider a rightful service that was
    bringing good things to the city," he said of the Oaksterdam cannabis
    clubs. "I consider this to be haphazard enforcement. But I think the
    city will work out the bugs."

    Jones, whose co-op no longer dispenses marijuana but issues
    identification cards to patients with prescriptions and works closely
    with the city on cannabis issues, said he thinks the city will work
    out the glitches. He plans to stay in the neighborhood, which will
    soon undergo dramatic change.

    "All this is to be expected given the redevelopment money coming into
    my neighborhood," Jones said, referring to the massive Forest City
    housing development as well as plans to renovate the Fox Theater and
    move Mayor Jerry Brown's charter arts high school there.

    Sparky Rose, operator of Compassionate Caregivers on Telegraph -- also
    known as "Third Floor" because of its location -- said he is trying to
    follow the city's process and apply for the fourth permit. He said he
    was surprised to find out the club 7,000 patients and has 150
    employees, had been denied. It has been tough to find a new location
    that is not within 1,000 feet of youth-oriented activities, churches
    or other dispensaries, Rose said.

    "We are working as hard as we can to get this fourth permit," Rose
    said. "We will close at 8 p.m. Tuesday, and we will not reopen."

    Two other clubs denied permits -- the Lemon Drop Coffeeshop on
    Telegraph and The Green Door on Webster -- have already stopped
    dispensing. A couple of dispensaries that never applied for permits
    may still be open.

    The one dispensary that defied the city's order to shut down finally
    closed its doors Friday, but may have opened sporadically since then.
    Ken Estes, owner of Dragonfly Holistic Solutions -- formerly called
    the 420 Cafe -- said he's convinced he will get the fourth permit.

    "I think this time they are gong to factor into the equation what the
    patients want," he said. "I will close for a little while until they
    resolve this, but if they don't work it out in a couple of days I'll

    Estes posted a sign on the door of his Telegraph Avenue shop urging
    customers to contact city officials to complain.

    Jane Weirick, owner of one of two cannabis dispensaries sanctioned by
    the city of Hayward, said she's seen an influx of new clients to her
    Hayward Patients' Resource Center since Oakland's new ordinance took

    "I've seen three or four dozen new people that I've never seen
    before," Weirick said. "With the (Oakland) clubs closing, it's going
    to get worse."

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