Palo Alto Weekly

News - October 7, 2011

News Digest

Pot measure heads for 2012 ballot in Palo Alto

Palo Alto voters will have a chance next year to overturn the city's 15-year-old ban on marijuana dispensaries and allow three facilities to set up shop in the city.

With little discussion and no dissent, the City Council voted early Tuesday morning, Oct. 4, to place on the November 2012 ballot an ordinance that would legalize up to three medical-marijuana dispensaries and impose a 4 percent tax on the gross receipts of the businesses. If voters approve it, they would effectively nix the ban on marijuana dispensaries that the council swiftly passed in 1996.

The council was forced to revisit the subject this week by a citizen initiative that received more than enough signatures to qualify for the ballot. Faced with the choice of adopting the ordinance outright, crafting its own version or forwarding it to the voters, the council voted 7-0, with Vice Mayor Yiaway Yeh and Councilwoman Gail Price absent, to go with the lattermost.

The vote means that in addition to voting for a U.S. president and for four council members in 2012, local residents could add Palo Alto to a list of Bay Area cities — including San Francisco, Berkeley, Oakland and San Jose — that allow sales of medical marijuana.

The proposed ordinance specifies that the new shops would be able to operate only between 9 a.m. and 10 p.m., and prohibits them from being located near schools, parks or day-care centers. Dispensaries would have to pay $10,000 for a permit.

According to Americans for Safe Access, a medical-marijuana advocacy group, 48 California cities currently regulate marijuana dispensaries while 168 have banned them. Another 81 have moratoriums on dispensaries in place.

Class-action lawsuit filed against Stanford

A class-action lawsuit for $20 million has been filed against Stanford Hospital & Clinics over a patient-information breach, the hospitals announced Monday, Oct. 3.

Shana Springer, a woman whose information ended up on a website after an oversight by a subcontractor, filed a class-action suit on Sept. 28 in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

Springer sought treatment at Stanford's emergency room around Aug. 31, 2009, and provided her personal information and hospital account number, according to the lawsuit.

The suit alleges that the information posted on the website included her name, medical record and hospital account numbers, admission/discharge dates, diagnoses codes and billing charges.

It asks for $1,000 per class member of the suit. The hospitals acknowledged on Sept. 8 that a data breach involving 20,000 patients' records had occurred. The patients were seen in the emergency room between March and August of 2009.

The patients' information was posted on a public website for nearly a year before being removed Aug. 22. Social Security numbers and credit-card information were not among the data, hospital officials said.

A subcontractor of an outside vendor, Multi-Specialty Collection Service, created the compromised data file, Stanford said. It has also been named in the suit. The data was posted on the Student of Fortune website, according to the New York Times. The site provides homework help and the data was used to show how to create a bar graph.

Stanford said in a statement that it has heard of the class-action lawsuit but did not provide details regarding the lawsuit.

— Sue Dremann

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