Council OKs smoking pot in WAMM tent – From The Santa Cruz Sentinel

SANTA CRUZ – Medical marijuana patients will once again be allowed to smoke dope in San Lorenzo Park this Saturday, after city leaders temporarily lifted a smoking ban to allow for a festival celebrating the medicinal herb.

The decision came after testimony from more than 20 patients who reasoned and pleaded with the Santa Cruz City Council to allow them to inhale their medication while partaking in Wo/Men’s Alliance for Medical Marijuana’s annual WAMMfest. Some accused council members of growing old and more conservative, while others said Santa Cruz was losing both its compassion and its weirdness.

“Do not Carmel-ize Santa Cruz,” said Valerie Corral, co-founder of WAMM.

The catch, however, is that the ban was not lifted for the entire park. Instead, those with a medical marijuana identification card only will be allowed to smoke inside a tent designated for that purpose.

“I think it’s good. I think it’s a good compromise,” said WAMM co-founder Mike Corral.

The arrangement is not much different from previous years, where a tent was provided for medical marijuana patients but recreational tokers still smoked up on the lawn.

However, Sean Wharton, a WAMM patient who will double as a security guard at the festival, said he will speak with anyone this year who lights up on the grass.

“I would really like this to happen in the way it has in the past, and I will look for people smoking outside the smoking tent,” Wharton said.

Council members approved the proposal on a 5-1 vote, with Councilwoman Lynn Robinson voting against the measure and Mayor Ryan Coonerty absent.

Robinson said she does not like making exceptions to rules that the city requires everyone else to follow.

“The onus is on the organizers to work within our parameters and not ask our staff to look the other way,” Robinson said.

The issue arose two weeks ago after WAMM requested an exception to the city’s ban on smoking in San Lorenzo Park so its 200 patients could attend WAMMfest and breathe in their drug of choice.

With Councilman Tony Madrigal sick, the City Council split the vote 3-3. All council members voiced their support for medical marijuana, but not all were crazy about granting an exception to city rules for a festival celebrating drugs that are illegal without a prescription, fearing it could draw recreational tokers.

The tie vote pushed the issue onto Tuesday’s agenda, but with Coonerty scheduled to be away, many assumed the vote would split again and no smoking would be allowed. Ed Porter, Cynthia Mathews and Robinson all had voted against lifting the ban.

Porter ended up proposing the compromise that lifted the smoking ban only in the patient tent.

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Thanks to Genevieve Bookwalter & The Santa Cruz Sentinel for this article which I have printed at length.

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