Fairfax residents unable to travel to a medical marijuana dispensary can now legally receive home delivery.The town Planning Commission approved the move and also granted the Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana permission to serve minor patients who enter its School Street dispensary, and to sell cloned marijuana plants.
But the commission refused to allow the club to grow plants of its own, because founding director Lynnette Shaw has not yet said where the group would do so.
The decision marked a victory for Shaw, who has labored since February to change 40 of the 84 conditions the Planning Commission imposed on her business in 1997, when it became the first legally sanctioned medical marijuana dispensary to operate under California’s Compassionate Use Act of 1996.
“I am proud of Fairfax,” Shaw said in a statement. “I feel honored by all the support we have.”
The town removed 12 of Shaw’s conditions in 2001 and deleted nine more on June 17, agreeing to modify an additional 31. Under the new conditions, the Marin Alliance can make deliveries to customers in Fairfax in one of two trucks. A licensed, bonded driver must accompany a dispensary employee while making deliveries, and the dispensary must carry insurance that indemnifies the town from liability. Drivers can carry up to $2,500 in marijuana products and $2,500 in cash.
Shaw had sought the delivery service to allow the Marin Alliance to compete with unlicensed clubs from Marin County and licensed
clubs from San Francisco, both of which had begun delivering marijuana to Fairfax residents.That’s a problem Kevin Reed can understand. For the past three years, Reed has operated The Green Cross, a medical marijuana delivery service based in his San Francisco home.
“Mine was the first dispensary in the city of San Francisco to get a permit to sell cannabis with the stipulation that it be delivery only – and they wanted it to be ‘delivery only’ because it was out of my home,” Reed said. “All clubs (in San Francisco) that have a permit to sell medical cannabis can deliver, but most choose not to do so, because there’s absolutely no money in it. It’s easier to open a storefront and have people come to them.”
During the past year, however, Reed has faced competition from illegal delivery services taking advantage of the shifting legal climate surrounding marijuana use.
After one attempted robbery early in its operation, The Green Cross developed a code of conduct for its employees and patients. “We drive unmarked cars,” Reed said. “All of our drivers have panic buttons on their cars. And there are a couple of neighborhoods we just don’t go into after dark.”
Concerns about delivery safety led Fairfax Police Chief Ken Hughes to oppose the delivery provision, and Planning Commissioner Pamela Meigs to abstain from the commission’s vote.
“The other (changes to the) use permit I felt OK with, but I could not agree with the delivery system,” Meigs said. “I feel safety is a priority for the community.”
The Planning Commission agreed to the changes on a vote of 5-1-1, following four consecutive meetings on the issue. While Meigs abstained, commissioner Peter Lacques cast the sole dissenting vote, objecting to the provision that allows minors to enter the dispensary.
“I feel very strongly there’s absolutely no rational reason why minors should be allowed into the dispensary,” Lacques said.
Aware that they were potentially blazing new legal ground, members of the commission spent many hours researching and debating the many aspects of the Marin Alliance’s permit, with assistant town attorney Inder Khasla spending more than 20 hours on the case, at $195 an hour.
Yet town officials say it’s unlikely the permit will serve as an effective blueprint for two other medical marijuana dispensaries that have applied to set up shop in Fairfax in recent months – or others who could apply in the future.
“We do not have an ordinance relative to this use,” said Fairfax Planning Director Jim Moore. “We have to evaluate these requests on an applicant to applicant basis.”