Thursday, January 14, 2010
Jhonrico Carrnshimba may prove the old adage that it’s better to ask forgiveness than permission—at least when it comes to medical marijuana.
In November, the Sand City Council said no to a pitch by would-be dispensary operator Daniel Maniscalco and adopted a one-year ban on pot shops in the city.
At about the same time, unbeknownst to city officials, the 29-year old Carrnshimba had quietly opened the county’s first medicinal marijuana co-op in a brightly painted yellow storefront on Lighthouse Avenue in Monterey.
When TV news reporters discovered the co-op the first week in January, Carrnshimba promptly tripled his membership. But a Jan. 11 letter from Assistant City Manager Fred Cohn ordered Carrnshimba to shut down immediately, saying it’s not a permitted use under city zoning laws.
Other city officials express qualified support. “I’m not going to say I’m 100 percent for it or against it,” says City Councilman Jeff Haferman. “But I’ve talked to people who are basically dying and they’ve told me that marijuana has provided them relief. I put a lot of weight into that.”
On a recent Friday afternoon, a somber-faced doorman stood guard as a parade of patients and would-be patients were ushered in and out.
A jowly sixtyish gentleman glanced nervously at bystanders as he emerged from the storefront, and a couple of 30-something men in jeans walked briskly out the door, while a woman with long gray hair clutching a worn doctor’s recommendation was turned away because she didn’t have California ID.
“I’m trying to be a patient,” said Kim Bissell of Marina, who was missing the proper documents, but vowed to return with paperwork in order. “I have severe back problems. It’s about the only thing that helps.”
Momentum seems to favor Carrnshimba. He reports thumbs-up and congratulatory handshakes from passersby, while drivers honk horns in support. Last month, a San Jose court refused to grant the city of Gilroy’s request to shut down a dispensary while the city fights it in court.
Carrnshimba, who operated a similar co-op in San Mateo, plans to invite Monterey’s police chief and City Council to see his operation.
Meanwhile, Maniscalco has approached the Pacific Grove City Council to ask support for medical marijuana. Councilman Alan Cohen says he welcomes a debate: “Supposedly, P.G. is a democratic liberal enclave, but I’m not sure what [P.G. residents] think when it comes to their backyard.”