San Mateo County's only medical marijuana dispensary denied business license
May 20, 2010, 3:00 am
By Joshua Melvin
San Mateo County Times

Posted: 05/17/2010 06:23:08 PM PDT
Updated: 05/17/2010 11:22:09 PM PDT

REDWOOD CITY — The only known medical-marijuana dispensary operating in San
Mateo County was denied a business license Monday, a decision that could
lead the Coastside collective to shut down.

The San Mateo County License Board voted 3-0 not to give a permit to the
Blue Heaven Collective, which opened last summer before a county ordinance
regulating pot clubs took effect. Blue Heaven was still obligated to go
through the licensing process, but it stayed open while its application was

The operator of the collective, Rubin Muniz, said after the hearing that he
plans to appeal the denial to the board of supervisors.

If Muniz loses his fight to stay open, his club will meet the same end as a
string of other dispensaries in the county that have popped up since voters
legalized medical marijuana in 1996 with Proposition 215.

Some were shut down in the wake of a 2007 San Mateo police and Drug
Enforcement Agency
raid, including one formerly run by Muniz. Others have
closed because they were within 1,000 feet of a school or community center,
which violates the county ordinance.

Several Peninsula cities, including Redwood City and South San Francisco,
have set up temporary bans on pot clubs while they research the topic.

Blue Heaven is the first to go through a full San Mateo County licensing
hearing and to be denied.

The board's reasoning for turning down the application centered on questions
of whether the
club is really a collective, its proximity to a playground and Muniz's
refusal to turn over certain information to a county investigator.

Because Muniz grows the majority of the marijuana sold at Blue Heaven in his
Pescadero home, deputy county counsel David Silberman argued the club
doesn't meet the definition of a collective. He said members should be doing
some work.

However, state laws don't define what a collective is. Muniz's attorney,
Zach Wasserman, said members support a collective by making purchases and
there is nothing in the law that says they have to do more.

Silberman also took aim at the club's closeness to a playground, saying it
would be naive to think people who buy pot at Blue Heaven won't go there to
smoke their purchases. People who go to the collective aren't allowed to
consume the marijuana inside the building.

However, there haven't been any reports of smoking at the playground,
officials said. And Wasserman said there is no indication that the club has
had any impact on the playground.

Wasserman added that Muniz would consider turning over certain information,
such as patient names, if the county agreed not to target those people for
investigation or prosecution.

Even if Blue Heaven is eventually forced to shut down, it likely won't be
the last collective to try to set up shop in the county. On Monday, the
License Board also listened to arguments for and against the opening of a
new collective in North Fair Oaks.

Brad Ehikian wants to set up a collective at 2991 El Camino Real and a grow
site at 2676 Bay Road. A group of neighbors showed up at the meeting, most
of whom opposed the club. The board put off a decision until its June 21
meeting while Ehikian tries to work with the neighbors on car traffic and
safety worries.

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