Pot Clinic Cleared for Move to Former Candy Company

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Proposition 215, also known as the Compassionate Use Act of 1996, gives California residents with a doctor's recommendation the right to possess, smoke and grow marijuana for medical purposes.

    The smell of chocolate that once wafted from the old factory at 914 Heinz Avenue will soon be replaced by another distinctive odor.

    The Berkeley City Council held a closed-door session Monday night and gave the okay for a medical marijuana dispensary to move from their existing location into the building that was once the home of Scharffen Berger chocolates.

    The Berkeley Patients Group has been trying for five years to find a place to settle.

    But the green light isn't sitting well with some of the surrounding businesses and a nearby private school.

    A spokesman for the Wareham Development company, which owns the building across the street from the proposed pot clinic, says the group is not against medical marijuana, just the location the massive dispensary would be opening it's doors.

    Officials from nearby private school Ecole Bilingue de Berkeley also object because it is just a block away from the building. Measure JJ, which allows for medical marijuana dispensaries in the city, bans them from being 1,000 feet from public schools but does not mention private schools, according to the paper.

    Several tenants of Wareham's 22 properties in the area have similar concerns about what kind of crowd the dispensary could draw. If there's a legal fight, Wareham will push to overturn the rules laid out by Measure JJ.

    "Everyone in Berkeley says they believe in medical marijuana," Debby Goldsberry, attorney for Berkeley Patients Group told the Oakland Tribune, "but not in their neighborhood."

    Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates is certain all sides can come to agreement on the issue. The President of the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce is also optimistic the city can agree on a solution.

    "Berkeley Patients Group and Wareham Development are both good corporate citizens and they're good members of the chamber," Mark Berson, President of the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce, told the paper. "I think we can work something out."

    The bigger issue in this case seems to be Measure JJ, the rule that makes the dispensary possible. The measure, which Berkeley voters passed in 2008, allows for medical marijuana dispensaries to exist anywhere the city (except within 1,000 feet of public schools) without public hearing.