Alameda County Board of Supervisors To Consider Proposal To Operate Cannabis Clinic in County Hospital
The Alameda County Board of Supervisors will consider a proposal by Supervisor Nate Miley for the county to open a medical marijuana dispensary at Fairmont Hospital in San Leandro as an alternative to private or not-for-profit cannabis clubs, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. If the proposal is approved, Alameda County would be the "first public entity in the nation" to operate such a clinic at a public hospital, according to the Chronicle (Hallissy, San Francisco Chronicle, 5/10).
Miley said the proposal would allow the county to help patients obtain marijuana for medical usage, while imposing regulations intended to keep people without a legitimate medical condition from purchasing marijuana from cannabis clubs, the Contra Costa Times reports. Miley also cited support for the proposal by Alameda County Sheriff Charles Plummer, who opposes medical marijuana, as an advantage.
Plummer previously said that he would cite federal law and order his deputies to close the seven dispensaries now doing business in the county if the board of supervisors did not enact a general ordinance governing medical marijuana dispensaries by June 17 (Ashley, Contra Costa Times, 5/9).
The board is expected to review the proposal May 24. However, the federal government could take action against the clinic if the board approves it (San Francisco Chronicle, 5/10).
Miley's proposal was a "last-minute" addition to a proposed county ordinance to regulate cannabis clubs. The proposed ordinance also includes provisions that would permit as many as five clinics to operate in unincorporated areas in the county, down from the current seven. The clinics would be licensed by the county through a process that includes a background check and a review by the sheriff's office, the county Health Department and the Community Development Agency.
Individual clinics would be required to be 1,000 feet apart, and each clinic would have to be at least 1,000 feet from schools, parks and playgrounds. Clinics near schools would have to close for an hour while school is let out, as well as during lunch hours if students are allowed to leave campus.
The dispensary at Fairmont Hospital, which is part of Alameda County Medical Center, would be a pilot program for the county, according to the Oakland Tribune. If the clinic opens in Fairmont Hospital, the county could revoke the licenses of the other clinics, according to Miley (Maitre, Oakland Tribune, 5/10).
Plummer said, "I hate the idea of selling marijuana, but on the other hand we have a state law that says some people should be able to get it." He added, "I think we should set up a program that would be a model for everyone else to see."
Miley said, "It would help bring legitimacy to the whole medical marijuana situation" (Contra Costa Times, 5/9). He added, "If we're saying it's medicine, let's put it in a medical setting" (Oakland Tribune, 5/10).
Supervisor Scott Haggerty said he would not support the proposal unless the federal government approves it. He said, "I would never, ever put county employees in a situation where they're incarcerated while doing county work."
Drug Enforcement Administration agent Richard Meyer said, "Marijuana is illegal to cultivate, to possess and to distribute," adding, "The Controlled Substances Act doesn't make any exceptions" for medical marijuana (San Francisco Chronicle, 5/10).