Commentary: City's treatment of marijuana clinics uneven

I was amazed to hear a car recently crashed into a medical marijuana dispensary on 19th Street ("Driver held after SUV crashes into dispensary," July 4). The amazing part of this story is that in October 2011 the City Council of Costa Mesa called in the U.S. Department of Justice, resulting in the closing of all collectives in the city by Jan. 31, 2012, even though their actions may have been in violation of state opening meetings laws known as the Brown Act.

All were closed except for Newport Mesa Health Center on West 19th Street.

Reports about this location have been reported to city officials, as well as law enforcement. Many are wondering why this collective remains open even after all of the closures in the city, Orange County and throughout the state.

Our collective, Nutritional Concepts, was operating in compliance with all state laws, and was run by myself, a retired registered nurse. We received referrals from Palliative care physicians at Hoag Hospital, UC Irvine Medical Center and St. Joseph Hospital, as well as other patient care facilities. It was run with the best interests of our patients in mind, yet was ordered to close or be subject to federal prosecution.

I was told I could not hold grow classes, education classes or have anything to do with cannabis or its accessories.

I petitioned the city to allow a limited number of collectives to exist in the city to serve its citizens and respect the Compassionate Use Act. My letters and requests remain unresolved.

Many city personnel acknowledged that our collective ran properly. I was recently told in meetings one of the problems is that if they allowed me to open they could be subject to litigation from others that might want to follow. They stated at one time they were concerned about violating federal law and being subject to federal penalties and did not know how to remedy that problem.

Recently, the state courts ruled that cities now have the right to outright ban or regulate and control cannabis distribution. Costa Mesa has sent out an unclear message. Is there a ban in the city? Why is the city not afraid of violating federal law when it comes to this collective? Why is the city not fearing litigation from other club owners for discriminating against them?

I, and others, would really like to know who has a private interest in this collective that has been the only one permitted in Costa Mesa for more than one and a half years. So far, no one from the city has been able to answer any questions pertaining to the operation of this collective. Perhaps now the city will be held accountable, or is all they respond to is litigation? The city needs to explain why this collective has been allowed to continue when all others have not.

I believe that a conditional use permit should be created in this city to allow three or four properly run collectives to operate professionally and properly to serve the needs of our residents. We should progress in that direction.

Costa Mesa resident JOYCE WEITZBERG is a retired nurse and the former operator of a marijuana collective.

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