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DSA In the News

Peninsula pot club operator drops application

Published on 12/1/2010

REDWOOD CITY -- Citing a lack of support from local government and police, the operator of what would have been the Peninsula's first officially approved medical marijuana dispensary dropped Tuesday his request to open up in North Fair Oaks.
The surprise announcement came moments after the start of an appeal hearing before the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors that could have ended with the overturning of the approval Bradley Ehikian, 28, won in October for the Sans Souci Medical Collective.
"We withdraw this application with a heavy heart knowing of the long hours put forth to build the facility to provide care to our community," Ehikian, of Menlo Park, told the supervisors. "We know our commitment is not enough to overcome the lack of commitment of our law enforcement and county government."
The appeals that triggered the hearing were filed by District Attorney Jim Fox and Sheriff Greg Munks, who said the club, to be located at 2676 Bay Road, would have served too many members to be a real collective, as is required by the May 2009 medical marijuana ordinance adopted by the supervisors. The Sheriff's Office also questioned whether the club, which is supposed to be a nonprofit, would end up being a moneymaking business.
"The bottom line is what's the difference between this and Costco?" asked Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe after the meeting.
Ehikian maintained from the beginning that Sans Souci would be a nonprofit, but said money was necessary to create the high-tech location he envisioned. Plans for the roughly 14,000-square-foot site called for hydroponic marijuana and vegetable growing, as well as space for classes on nutrition and chiropractic services.
However, the county ordinance prohibits the exchange of medical marijuana for cash. The rule allows for a collective of people who get together, grow their own marijuana and distribute it among themselves. The ordinance rules out the possibility of storefront dispensaries of the type seen in San Francisco and Oakland.
Ehikian's withdrawal of his application comes about a month and a half after the San Mateo County License Board granted him its first-ever approval for a pot club. Though the Sheriff's Office, which provides one of the three members of the license board, opposed the plan, both the environmental health and planning departments approved it.
Before that decision, clubs in San Mateo County had either been raided by police or shut down because they didn't comply with the ordinance. There are no legally operating dispensaries on the Peninsula.
Ehikian said he has no plans to try to open elsewhere and referred to the experience in San Mateo County as frustrating.
"They take a perspective on one side of the spectrum, and we're on the other," he said outside the meeting.
Contact Joshua Melvin at 650-348-4335.
proposed medical marijuana collective
The Sans Souci Medical Collective originally won approval in October.

An artist's rendering shows a medical marijuana collective proposed for the North Fair Oaks neighborhood in San Mateo County that is now on hold.