Steve Klassen, applicant for a Medical Marijuana Cooperative in Mammoth Lakes, told the Planning Commission
Wednesday that it’s “more acceptable to be a gay man than a marijuana smoker in this town.” The lid was at least partly blown off the pot taboo in Mammoth when the Commission voted to approve use permits for two Medical Marijuana Cooperative applications.
After more than four hours of discussion, the Commission approved Klassen’s proposal (Green Mammoth) and one submitted by Robert Calvert of Mammoth (Mammoth Lakes Wellness). This was a first for Mammoth Lakes and the Eastern Sierra, and as Commission Chair Tony Barrett said, eyes all over the state and here in the Eastern Sierra are on us. Those opposed to marijuana from Inyo and Mono counties had watched the Mammoth vote for the co-ops and waited nervously for the next step.
Mammoth Police Chief Dan Watson and his staff had reviewed the three applicants – Klassen, Calvert and Dagmar Zila. Planner Sandra Moberly said the Zila application was at first rejected by the police department because one of the officers of the company had been arrested on drug charges. That company officer was removed and the application went forward.
Although the planning commissioners only had the charge to examine the conditions of the use and not building codes, they were still tempted to peer into the unfamiliar world of medical marijuana and how co-ops work.
Discussion revealed that the applicants submitted records of their non-profit corporation status, floor plans, business plans, security plans and background checks. Commissioners decided they did not want locked front doors with buzzers and wanted co-op members to be able to weigh in on operational matters. Some commissioners felt that Mr. Calvert’s location in the Luxury Outlet Mall should establish the entrance on the back side. Others argued that the entrance is concealed behind the stairway.
Some debate followed on public expectations about the profile of the co-ops. Steve Klassen’s location is 94 Laurel Mt. Road with a less obvious entrance. Chairman Barrett said that the Medical Marijuana community “deserves more than the backdoor.”
No one stood up to oppose the cooperatives. Former Mammoth Mayor Neil McCarroll supported Calvert and Klassen. A Bishop woman, Carol Turner, said she has experienced chronic pain for 25 years and became a medical marijuana patient. She supported Klassen. Paul Rudder, landlord of Robert Calvert, supported him. There were several others for all applicants.
Philosophies on health care, business and marijuana ran through the bureaucratic discussions. The vote on Klassen was 4 to 1 with Commissioner Jay Deinken concerned about spelling out the purpose of the co-op and other details. He voted no. The vote for Calvert was 3 to 2. Commissioners Deinken and Tenney voted no. Tenney was not in favor of Calvert’s entrance from the mall just off Main St.