Medical Marijuana Advocate Chadd McKeen Seeks to Shake Up Costa Mesa City Council

Chadd McKeen, the man with the plan.
Chadd McKeen, the man with the plan.
Photo by Keith May

Chadd McKeen, the Weekly's current cover boy ("Growing Pains at Otherside Farms"), is not only working to change people's perception of medical marijuana providers through his Costa Mesa business that helps patients grow their own. He's also working to change the Costa Mesa City Council. "I am the man with the plan!" McKeen says.

Since 2005, Costa Mesa has banned medical marijuana dispensaries. City police and code enforcement officers have served cease and desist orders on clinics. In at least a couple cases, operators were arrested and property was removed as evidence. This has led to a legal tug-of-war between the city and some patients and providers.

In this week's story, McKeen explains his own problems with some dispensers and the safety and quality of meds they provide. Having sought to work with the city to operate safely and legally, he also has a problem with the legal strategy some have taken to fight Costa Mesa's ban.

But he is also no fan of the ban nor efforts to deny patients medical marijuana. So, he is leading a charge to get Christoper Bunyan elected to one of two open Costa Mesa City Council seats. Bunyan, a surfer, volunteer police officer*and activist in the effort to preserve as open space the old Banning Ranch property in town, came in eighth place (out of nine candidates) for three open seats in the November 2008 council race. (*Bunyan: "I did, however, attend and graduate [from] the 13-week Costa Mesa Citizens Police Academy.) 

McKeen says supporters have discussed what went wrong in that election and they "have made adjustments and believe we can get him elected in a city that had only half of the registered voters show up and vote last election. We need another Chris Bunyan!"

The Cal State Long Beach graduate is an author, political commentator and former Manic magazine editor who was a speaker on one of the Lollapalooza tours. He also serves on Costa Mesa's Cultural Arts Committee.

Asked about his getting backing from a medical marijuana advocate, Bunyan answers, "I am not a marijuana user. However, I am supportive of those who use for medical purposes."

He says he would favor an approach like that in Palm Springs, which allows two dispensaries, which cannot be located near schools and must comply with all city laws.

"The permitting of one dispensary could serve as a test model, and if so much as one rule is broken then the city could shut down the dispensary," he said.

He notes that the city's 2005 ban argued that the ordinance "promotes health, safety and morals," using as its basis the federal government's designation of marijuana as an addictive drug like heroin and cocaine, with no medical benefits.

"There needs to be another review that would further detail just what the health, safety and morals are that the ordinance refers to," Bunyan said. "Until the ordinance is overturned, then the Costa Mesa Police Department will continue to shut down and cite those who operate within the city limits."

In a city struggling financially, he notes there is also "great tax potential for Costa Mesa to realize from the sales of the medicinal product."

Sounds like another man with a plan.


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