Novato's last remaining medical marijuana facility — at least of the kind that operates out in the open for all to see — is shutting down by mid-June, its owner announced Tuesday.
Lawrence Pebbles kept his emotions in check and even said "I love Novato!" after he made a statement before the Novato City Council on Tuesday night about his decision to shut down the on North Redwood Boulevard at 8 p.m. June 15. It has been open since April 2010.
Although he was more upbeat than some expected about the closure of his business, Pebbles expressed his dissatisfaction with the lack of communication with city officials.
"We haven't heard anything from our council about (this). Why was there not a response?" he asked during the meeting's open time. "... Out of courtesy, we could have gotten, 'Hey, we're not interested anymore' or something. Have you asked your constituents? Have you spoken to them? Have you reached out?"
The medical marijuana topic was not on the agenda, and thus the council and city staff were not compelled to respond.
Novato has a moratorium on pot club operations, in line with federal laws that prohibit the sale of marijuana. in April and the Apela Collective in Ignacio opened and closed within 2009.
Green Door's pending closure will take place just more than seven weeks after federal agents forced Green Tiger to close right next door to Pebbles' Green Door facility. Pebbles said Tuesday that federal agents were busy "seizing our citizens' property" and that his attorney had been in communication with the U.S. Attorney's local office.
"I see this turn of events as a failure to our patients, their families and the community," Pebbles said.
He said the country has heard from President Barack Obama on the controversial subject of gay marriage and he was puzzled as to why he hasn't heard from Novato city leaders about the subject of medical marijuana collectives.
"It would have been wonderful if we as a community could have chatted about this and had some intelligent conversation and discussion and been able to invite some experts in in different areas to kind of like make a plan to overcome any of the fears and concerns we have about medical cannabis."
Pebbles said Green Door had several thousand club members who were upset to learn of this decision.
"It's a lot of sadness at our club right now," he said.
While Novato's elected officials kept quiet on the issue, some lawmakers have taken political stands. Sen. Mark Leno and Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, both Democrats from San Francisco, joined medical marijuana patients, dispensary operators and advocates in October 2011 for sweeping criminal prosecutions against pot dispensaries, threatening landlords with eviction, property seizures and imprisonment.
“I urge the federal government to stand down in its massive attack on medical marijuana dispensaries, which will have devastating impacts for the state of California,” Leno, who represents Novato in the state Legislature, said at the time. “At a time when resources are precious and few, federal officials have chosen to waste time and money in an ambush that will harm countless patients who will no longer be able to safely access doctor-recommended treatments.
“Our federal dollars, especially during a down economy, would be better spent on activities and programs that save jobs and help people in need. Instead, this ill-timed and ill-conceived offensive would have detrimental impacts on our state’s economy by forcing more Californians into unemployment.”
Pebbles said he believes something will work out in the future and another medical marijuana collective will be able to open and stay open.
"It's just a matter of time," he said.
Only one pot dispensary remains in Marin. For a story in the Marin Independent Journal about it, click here.