MEDICAL MARIJUANA: AG Says San Francisco Club Is Closed
Attorney General Dan Lungren said yesterday that the San Francisco Cannabis Cultivators Co-op "is out of business" after Superior Court Judge David Garcia issued a ruling "prohibiting the San Francisco pot emporium from "selling, furnishing, storing, administering or giving away marijuana," the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The ruling came the day after the California Supreme Court ruled that it would keep "intact a December state Court of Appeals decision that cannabis clubs cannot sell pot because they do not qualify as primary caregivers."
However, Dennis Peron, the founder of the San Francisco club, "insisted that yesterday's ruling ... allowed the club to stay open." According to Peron, the judge "specifically allowed [him] to distribute marijuana if he is a 'bona fide primary caregiver' as required by state law." Peron said that his club "qualifies as a primary caregiver for the sick and dying who enter his establishment because it provides continued care." He added that the club is now only receiving "reimbursement for providing marijuana as allowed by law," and is no longer selling the drug. Peron's attorney, J. David Nick, said, "This (Garcia's) decision does not say that clubs are illegal, period. It says you must have a consistent relationship ... with the patient" (Chiang, 2/27). Nick said, "He is their primary caregiver. He has that consistent relationship that the law requires and he can receive compensation for that service" (Delgado, San Francisco Examiner, 2/27)
Matt Ross, a spokesperson for Lungren, said that the attorney general would leave it up to individual sheriffs and prosecutors to determine "what actions they should take with regard to pot clubs." However, Ross said that the judge's decision closes Peron's San Francisco club, virtually ensuring future legal battles (Chronicle, 2/27). The judge has scheduled an April 3 hearing for a permanent injunction against the club. The Examiner reports, however, that should the club stay open, District Attorney Terrance Hallinan is resistant to "prosecuting Peron or club members if they remain in business." Hallinan said, "As long as they operate by the Health Department protocols, we consider them within the definition of Proposition 215" (2/27). The Los Angeles Times reports that area "law enforcement officials and political leaders have long supported Peron's club and are not expected to move against it" (La Ganga/ Curtis, 2/27). "Although Lungren said the court's ruling applies to all pot clubs around the state, Oakland Cannabis Club Executive Director Jeff Jones said that he and others "felt the ruling applied only to Peron's club and not their own" (San Francisco Examiner, 2/27).
Ventura County Debate
In related news, a judge is expected to decide Monday "whether to keep Ventura County's only medical cannabis center closed until a civil lawsuit is resolved," the Los Angeles Times reports. According to James Silva, an attorney for club operator Andrea Nagy, the club is "a patients' cooperative rather than a retail marijuana outlet, as prosecutors contend." Silva said, "The basic gist is that all members who belong to what was the Ventura County Medical Cannabis Center jointly own the cannabis that is cultivated on behalf of each of them individually and all of them as a whole." Prosecutors charge there "is no evidence to prove that the center is anything other than a sales operation" (Folmar, 2/27).