By Peter Hecht
In 1996, a few months before California voters passed Proposition 215, America’s first medical cannabis law, a blues singer named Lynnette Shaw opened the Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana dispensary. “It was not legal, not even a little bit,” Shaw acknowledges today. Even so, the place just seemed so quintessentially Marin County. Her cannabis shop opened beneath verdant hills, situated next to a yoga wellness studio and a hot tub, sauna, and sundeck in Fairfax, a tiny town with an Art Deco movie theater and decidedly progressive politics.
Marin County, located just across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco, was the home of the Grateful Dead and cannabis-fragrant, clothing-optional music fests in the 1960s. Three decades later, 73 percent of local voters supported Proposition 215. After its passage, the five Green Party members on the Fairfax Town Council in 1997 heartily approved a business license for the Marin Alliance.
And yet today, after another lopsided pro-cannabis vote in Marin, the Marin Alliance remains the only licensed marijuana store in the county of 260,000 residents.
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