In the end, Steve Klassen and Robert Calvert stood like blood brothers in the hallway outside Mammoth Lakes Town Council Chambers, joined by their commitment to medical marijuana.
Both had won licenses to open cooperatives in Mammoth, courtesy of the Mammoth Lakes Planning Commission, which on Wednesday voted to award them the licenses, turning down a bid by Dagmar Zila of the Range of Light Wellness Center.
It was a short but convivial tête-a-tête, with hand shaking and a mutual pledge to help each other in the myriad issues facing them as Mammoth moves into the medical marijuana age.
Klassen, owner of Wave Rave Snowboards, and Calvert, owner of Mammoth Lakes Wellness, Inc., will open their cooperatives soon, over the objections of Planning Commissioner Jay Deinken, who said he was unhappy with the vague terms by which the cooperatives will operate.
Calvert also won a license over the objections of Deinken and of commissioner Elizabeth Tenney, who expressed concerns over the actual physical space, tucked into the Mammoth Luxury Suites, technically with an entrance on Main Street.
Klassen, whose business is to be called “Green Mountain,” will open in a second-story space in the KMMT building on Laurel Mountain Road.
“I’m pleased that I live in a progressive town that has compassion,” Klassen said. “I think the process was lengthy, but everybody from the town government and the Mammoth Police Department did an exemplary job. They really did what they needed to do.”
Calvert iterated Klassen’s reaction to the votes, but said the real work now begins.
“We’re all here to work together,” he said. “Nothing’s going to happen overnight.”
Calvert and Klassen won the licenses fair and square. Last June, voters approved a measure to open two medical marijuana cooperatives, so the Planning Commission did not concern itself with ethical, medical or political issues. Commission chair Tony Barrett made that clear in his opening remarks.
Rather, the commission concerned itself strictly with use-permit issues: things like lighting, parking, hours of business and so on.
What rankled Deinken more than anything was the structure of the cooperatives themselves; that is, if the co-ops were to be in line with California state laws regarding not-for-profit outfits.
As for Klassen, Deinken said, “Mr. Klassen seems to make politics about 90 percent of his purpose.”
Earlier, in his presentation, Klassen did indeed touch on the politics of medical marijuana as well as the upcoming votes on Proposition 19 and the race for California Attorney General.
His was a theatrical – and, apparently persuasive – argument that also emphasized his success as an athlete at the University of Southern California as well as his business savoir faire.
Calvert’s presentation was more subdued and dealt mostly with his reputation as a businessman in Mammoth.
The presentation by Ed Soule, representing Dagmar Zila of Range of Light Wellness, also in the Luxury Suites complex, was the very definition of brevity, giving the commission not much more than what was contained in his application.
However Klassen and Calvert plan their co-ops, the landscape will surely change, and very soon.
First up is Proposition 19, also known as the Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010.
The proposition is a California ballot initiative that will be on the Nov. 2 California statewide ballot.
It legalizes various marijuana-related activities, allows local governments to regulate these activities, permits local governments to impose and collect marijuana-related fees and taxes, and authorizes various criminal and civil penalties.
The second influence on both Mammoth co-ops is the state attorney general’s race, pitting Kamala Harris, the district attorney of San Francisco, who supports medical marijuana initiatives, and Steve Cooley, the Los Angeles County district attorney, who is a staunch opponent.
Both Klassen and Calvert said they will await the election results before putting their plans for Mammoth in motion.
As a parting shot, Klassen said, “Cooley is not cool.”