While it’s hard to condemn medical marijuana dispensary owners like Boulder Creek’s Marc Whitehill and potential Scotts Valley store owner Scott Gates, we think Scotts Valley is not the place for medical marijuana storefronts.
It’s easy to see that these two men are civil small-business owners who see an ever-growing niche selling medical marijuana to people who use the drug to relieve pain and nausea related to illness. They’ve busted stereotypes by being up-front and educated about their sales, and they are not “potheads” or “tweakers” looking for a quick buck.
But marijuana use is a sticky subject.
Despite the legality of selling medical marijuana, there is a bigger question at hand in our area: Does the community want a medical marijuana dispensary (or more than one) in its town or city?
We have two neighboring valleys that seem to have different mindsets on the issue. In much of the San Lorenzo Valley, people tend to tolerate marijuana smoking (and growing), more easily than folks inside Scotts Valley’s city limits. That’s not to say that all Scotts Valley residents dislike marijuana use or that all people in the Valley tolerate it, but generally speaking, there is a different attitude.
The numbers back up this assumption.
In 1996, California passed Proposition 215, which legalized marijuana for medical use. Voters passed the measure after learning how medical marijuana alleviates pain and symptoms for those with ongoing disease and illness.
In unincorporated Santa Cruz County — which includes the entire San Lorenzo Valley, the area that surrounds Scotts Valley’s city limits and Bonny Doon — 73 percent of voters passed Proposition 215. Inside the city, 61 percent voted yes.
Soon, that 1996 majority in Scotts Valley will be put to the test. In the upcoming months, the Scotts Valley City Council faces a proposal from Gates, a father and active community member, to open a medical marijuana dispensary in town.
In the past, Scotts Valley has leaned on federal law that outlaws marijuana, and there’s nothing to stop the council from dragging out this decision until after the November election, when a marijuana initiative of some form might be on California’s ballot.
There are several dispensaries along the Highway 9 corridor, and rarely are there complaints. However, Scotts Valley’s citizens were less inclined to legalize the drug for medical purposes and are perhaps less likely to allow a dispensary for the drug inside the city limits.
A large reason for that could be that Scotts Valley has a certain image it cultivates — child- and senior-friendly, community-minded, with low crime, oriented toward athletics and its schools, a Silicon Valley in miniature. Some of those goals are idealistic, and others are achievable.
Either way, a medical marijuana storefront doesn’t seem to fit Scotts Valley. Legal does not always mean right for a community.
It’s not unreasonable for those who need medical marijuana for pain relief to drive or ride the bus to SLV or Santa Cruz. Scotts Valley residents often travel to Watsonville to shop at Target and to Santa Cruz to visit Costco or one of the hospitals. The same should hold true for pot.