Tuesday, September 22, 2009

No Medical Marijuana Smoking at This Year's WAMM Festival in Santa Cruz

No smoking allowed at WAMMfest due to planning oversight

Posted: 09/21/2009 05:22:17 PM PDT
Updated: 09/21/2009 05:22:56 PM PDT

SANTA CRUZ - No smoking will be allowed at WAMMfest this year, after a
planning mix-up has answered the question of whether to allow medical
marijuana use during the San Lorenzo Park celebration on Saturday.

Leaders of Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana said last week that
they planned to go before the City Council today to ask for their annual
exemption to the city's no-smoking rules for WAMMfest, the group's
autumn celebration of the medicinal herb.

WAMM sent a letter to the council asking for support of the group's
festivities last month. But no one asked a specific council member to
put the no-smoking exemption request on the agenda, a necessary step
before council members can consider allowing patients to inhale medical
pot in the park.

As a result, the item is not on Tuesday's agenda and WAMM will not be
allowed to erect the two smoking tents the group planned for Saturday.
The tents were to accommodate members of the nonprofit medical marijuana
collective - many of whom are terminally ill - and medicinal smokers
with proper identification.

"They have an event permit, but they can't get an exemption to the
smoking ban," said Mayor Cynthia Mathews on Monday.

Santa Cruz Police spokesman Zach Friend said his department will not
increase the number of officers on duty Saturday afternoon for WAMMfest.
However, those on duty will issue citations if the park's no-smoking
rules are not followed, he said.

The oversight relieves council members of a potentially awkward
decision, which could have involved allowing smoking in a no-smoking
park two weeks after unanimously approving sweeping no-smoking rules
around town. The City Council nearly denied last year's request, at
first splitting the vote with one member absent. The exemption was
approved 4-3 at the next meeting.

Councilman Mike Rotkin said the oversight was not purposeful. Had he
known the item was not sponsored for the agenda, Rotkin said, he would
have done it himself.

WAMMfest "has never been violent or rowdy or out of control," Rotkin
said. "As you might imagine, it's a very mellow event."

Because the city's new smoking rules don't take effect until next month,
medicinal marijuana users cannot smoke in the park on Saturday but could
legally smoke on adjacent sidewalks, Rotkin said.

WAMM leaders did not return calls seeking comment Monday.

WAMMfest pits two of Santa Cruz's competing values against each other,
as Council members two weeks ago unanimously approved expanding
no-smoking rules to overwhelming public approval. But seven years ago
Santa Cruz allowed WAMM to hand out medical marijuana on City Hall steps
after federal drug enforcement agents raided their North Coast farm, and
voters in 2006 directed police to make marijuana enforcement their
lowest priority.

http://www.contraco statimes. com/california/ ci_13387985

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