MEDICINAL MARIJUANA: Judge Orders San Francisco Club To Close
San Francisco Superior Court Judge David Garcia "ordered the immediate closure of San Francisco's Cannabis Cultivators Club" yesterday. In what the San Francisco Chronicle reports is a "huge blow to the medical marijuana movement," Garcia ruled that the club, "the nation's largest dispenser of medicinal pot," was illegally selling marijuana. The club's owner, Dennis Peron, contended Proposition 215 allowed him, as a "primary caregiver," to cultivate and provide marijuana to terminally ill patients (Martin, 4/16). The Los Angeles Times reports that the ruling is the "first order of its kind since voters approved an initiative to legalize the medical use of marijuana in 1996." The ruling "stunned the club's operators and San Francisco political leaders, who have supported the club for years." San Francisco County Supervisor Tom Ammiano said, "I find it shameful, and my hope is that there will be an appeal. ... The sentiment and the political will in San Francisco hasn't changed." But California Attorney General Dan Lungren, who first brought charges against the club, "welcomed the decision." Lungren said, "Today's decision is based on the club's own admission that they were selling to other cannabis buyers clubs, which is clearly against the law." But Lungren urged Californians to end the "the debate about cannabis buyers' club" and move on to focusing on "whether marijuana has any medicinal value" (Curtius/La Ganga, 4/16).
"The court finds uncontradicted evidence in this record that defendant Peron is currently engaging in the illegal sales of marijuana," Garcia wrote in his ruling ( Reuters/San Jose Mercury News, 4/15). Garcia reasoned that Peron was breaking the law because pot clubs are not primary caregivers and Peron was selling it to other caregivers, the Chronicle reports. The judge also "granted a nuisance abatement order that allows either the San Francisco County Sheriff's Department or the California Bureau of Narcotics to close the club and seize its contents," the Chronicle reports. But Peron, who said the ruling hinged on a "technicality," said the club would continue to operate despite the judge's ruling. "This isn't the greatest day in my life, but it gives me resolve to fight all the more," he said (4/16). Peron said, "We are not moving this club. We have 9,000 patients. How do you move 9,000 people? It's insane."
Peron's attorney, J. David Nick, said he would return to court for a more clear ruling. "The order seems a little quirky. On the one hand, (Garcia) says Peron can clearly provide medical marijuana to patients and receive reimbursements. On the other hand he says, however, because Peron's providing it to caregivers, he's a nuisance" (Times, 4/16). Reuters/San Jose Mercury News reports that "the club had already acted to comply with one element of Garcia's order and had stopped providing marijuana to caregivers, meaning that only the patients themselves would now be supplied" (4/15).