Del Mar’s first medical marijuana cooperative opened on Friday, April 1, and city officials swiftly took the initial steps to shut the operation down.
Before the end of the day, Adam Birnbaum, the city’s planning manager, hand-delivered a letter to Patrick Kennedy, managing director of the 1105 Cooperative at 1105 Camino Del Mar, stating that his business license had been revoked and the cooperative does not comply with city zoning rules.
“The gentleman who applied for a business license has been advised that medical marijuana cooperatives or dispensaries are not an allowed use at that location or any location in the city of Del Mar,” said Birnbaum. “We’ve advised the property owner as well. The city attorney has been advised and will take the necessary enforcement actions.”
At issue is whether the city has the right to prohibit medical marijuana cooperatives. According to Kennedy, 55, a building and solar energy contractor who runs the 1105 Cooperative, the answer is “no.”
“State law gives us the right to administer medical marijuana,” said Kennedy. “You can’t have an outright ban. The courts will side with me.”
But according to a spokesman with the state Department of Justice, the issue remains unsettled. Cities can regulate where cooperatives are located, and how they operate, but, “until the courts address the issue, the validity of outright prohibitions remains an open question of law,” the spokesman said.
In any event, Kennedy insisted the 1105 Cooperative won’t create problems for nearby residents and businesses. The nonprofit cooperative will only provide medical marijuana to its members, who must possess a valid California ID card and a recommendation from a licensed medical doctor.
No signage on the exterior of the building will indicate that medical marijuana is dispensed on the premises, Kennedy said. The windows of the nondescript storefront are frosted so passersby cannot see inside.
The cooperative will dispense 20 varieties of marijuana to members for treatment of a variety of illness. The marijuana will also be grown by cooperative members. Patients will be asked to make a donation for the marijuana they receive, and also pay state sales tax and a 5 percent charitable contribution.
“My goal here is to run an operation, a not-for-profit cooperative in the true sense, bringing farmers that produce the medicine and patients that use the medicine together in a private club. The goal is 100 percent respect of the neighborhood,” Kennedy said. “It’s clean, it’s innocuous from the outside, it doesn’t bring attention to itself.”
Visitors who enter the front door of the cooperative find themselves in a vestibule with a counter. Past a security door, a glass display case contains neatly labeled jars of various varieties of cannabis. Kennedy said the marijuana is dispensed in plastic containers that look like prescription drug vials, and sealed inside a bag with instructions not to open the bag until the patient arrives at his or her destination. Loitering is also prohibited under the cooperative’s rules.
The doctors’ recommendations are verified through a statewide online database.