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DSA In the News

Medical pot co-op drops plans

Published on 12/1/2010

The operator of an already approved medical marijuana dispensary withdrew his business license application yesterday just before the Board of Supervisors was set to discuss reversing an earlier decision to grant it.

Bradley Ehikian, who was poised to operate the Peninsula’s first permitted dispensary, said San Mateo County’s commitment to providing legal medical marijuana does not match his own.

“The county simply does not have the will to allow any facility in the county,” Ehikian said.

In October, Ehikian was granted a business license for the Sans Souci Medical Collective in a 14,000-square-foot building at 2676 Bay Road in the unincorporated area near Redwood City’s Fair Oaks neighborhood. But Sheriff Greg Munks, District Attorney Jim Fox and 39 residents who were worried about the size and location appealed the license board decision to the Board of Supervisors.

After hours of waiting for other items — the 10 a.m. appeal wasn’t heard until close to 1 p.m. — Ehikian made the matter moot by ending an effort he said has taken 17 months and hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Ehikian wanted to honor the memory of his mother and grandmother with what he said would be a high-standard medical clinic with a research aspect. Although he and lawyer Ted Hannig said they believe the county’s position flies in the face of state law, he didn’t want to spend further time in vain. 

“We do this because we are committed to the cause but we also know our commitment is not enough to overcome the lack of commitment on the part of law enforcement,” Ehikian said.

Munks, speaking after Ehikian’s withdrawal, said the Ehikian family’s intentions were honorable but was concerned future operators may not be as honorable.

Prior to Tuesday’s meeting, Munks and Fox argued that the large-scale scope of the operation made it unlikely to fit the definition of a legal collective. 

Munks calculated the operation could dispense 11.4 tons annually based on a maximum of two ounces per day for up to 500 members.

While there are few hard and fast rules about the definition of a collective in a May 2009 county ordinance, it is widely assumed members will participate in the growing and harvesting in return for use. Sans Souci anticipated so many members it was unlikely all or even most would do anything other than collect and use its product, Munks and Fox argued.

Ehikian said he understood the county’s desire to limit “fly by night” dispensaries but insisted his plan was to offer a vital service to those with medical, not recreational, need. 

Hannig also said the county would be better off with one large high-quality clinic rather than smaller facilities possibly run by less scrupulous operators. 

Aside from the dispensary itself, Hannig told the board it should consider a systemic conflict of interest by having Munks weigh in on the license board vote, act as an appellant and ultimately as a law enforcement official charged with safety at the dispensary.

San Mateo County and its cities have a mixed approach to medical marijuana dispensaries. While some jurisdictions such as the county and the cities of San Mateo and San Carlos regulate them, others banned them outright.