Unsanctioned Farmers Market for Pot Draws Ire from Neighbors, City

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SACRAMENTO -- Hovering over a Midtown Sacramento community garden, you'll see the cozy neighborhood that surrounds it on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

But now take a closer look. Right next door is a farmers market -- not for the peas and pumpkins grown in the garden, it's got nothing to do with that. This is a farmers market for medicinal marijuana.

Liz Ayers is a satisfied customer, one of the dozens who’ve been showing up here, every weekend, for at least a month. In fact, it's so popular that a man has to direct traffic outside the gated yard and tell people where to park.

“He’s checking everybody’s medical recommendation. I showed mine, no problem," Ayers said.

But it's not exactly popular among neighbors.

"I don’t care what they do over there, it’s just the impact of the parking," neighbor Richard Borges said. "There was nowhere to park for blocks."

Several neighbors FOX40 spoke with said the same thing -- that they didn’t object to the idea, but their neighborhood just isn’t built to handle to the traffic.

“That’s the only problem. They start showing up with coolers and music instruments," neighbor Steve Perez said. "But I never did hear anything.”

Sacramento’s City Council has been hearing from industry lobbyists who say smoking lounges have to happen.

California's pot law prohibits smoking in public. It's only allowed in a person's home if they own or if their landlord doesn’t say no, at festivals like this weekend's Cannabis Cup, hosted at the State Fair Grounds, or at dispensaries that have smoking lounges.

But the City of Sacramento doesn’t permit smoking lounges, and after a thorough record search, FOX40 found this so-called farmers market doesn’t have any kind of permit at all.

So while the city and its police department tried to figure out what to do about it, FOX40 tried to speak with the man who organizes it.

He never answered our inquiries but then suddenly, he showed up in a very public place.

"We jump from property to property trying to congregate for a safe place to consume our medicine," Will Hennessee said.

Hennessee took advantage of the public comment period at the April 24 Sacramento City Council public comment period to talk about how the City has threatened, but so far hasn’t, shut him down.

“I’ve had to deal with code enforcement, I’ve had to deal with the police department, and nothing but threats of civil penalty of $25,000. But I’ve yet to be cited," Hennessee said that evening.

The question now is, will that continue, or when the smoke clears, will Hennessee find himself shut down?

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