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  1. Alfa
    2 MEDICINAL MARIJUANA SHOPS MAY SPROUT HERE

    Two separate entities are planning to bring medicinal marijuana
    distribution facilities to the unincorporated areas of Amador County.

    Speaking at Tuesday's board of supervisors meeting during the public
    comment portion of the agenda were Steven Alvidrez, speaking on behalf of
    Michael Koll, Ron Moede and Allen Toupe.

    Koll is seeking to operate a distribution facility somewhere in the county,
    as are Moede and Toupe.

    Alvidrez asked on June 1 that an ordinance be placed on the agenda to
    regulate the distribution of medicinal marijuana. He told the board that
    his client is in the process of opening up a business and needs the
    ordinance established to do so.

    Toupe and Moede made similar requests to the board as well. The pair are
    planning to operate a similar facility that would operate under non-profit
    status, Toupe said.

    The board chose to not list the request on the agenda.

    Toupe told the board that he had a form of rare cancer and had most of his
    "insides" removed. He showed the board a bag of medication he is currently
    taking, which includes methadone.

    "Medical marijuana brings me relief like no tomorrow," Toupe told the board.

    Moede also addressed the board and said he was a caregiver and patient
    under the Compassionate Use Act. The Compassionate Use Act, or Proposition
    215, was passed by California voters in 1996.

    "We are not interested in a business that will make money," Moede told the
    board. "We are interested in a non-profit cooperative to serve the people
    of the county as well as the other Sierra communities. We are looking for
    guidance from the board."

    Moede told the board that the nearest place to receive medicinal marijuana
    is in Oakland. He also told the board that medical marijuana benefits his
    neck injury and that "You could not consume more medical marijuana than I
    do and still be awake."

    Amador County, like many other communities across the state, does not have
    an ordinance in place to regulate medical marijuana distribution. The
    county has the obligation under state law, however, to provide regulations
    for a medical marijuana distribution facility. Common
    provisions throughout
    other counties include placing restrictions on where the facility can be
    located (i.e., not located closer than 100 yards from a school).

    As for possible locations, Moede said it was up to the county as to where
    his distribution center would be located. "I'd like to put it next to a
    police station or some sort of medical building because that is where it
    belongs," he said. "But I don't know if they will allow that. It should
    probably go somewhere in the unincorporated area where it won't ruffle any
    feathers."

    Koll said he would also put his facility wherever the county wanted it.
    Koll, who has applied to the cities of Plymouth and Jackson for medical
    marijuana dispensaries, said he would shelve those plans if the county
    allows him to open his business in the unincorporated part of the county.

    Although Proposition 215 allows for medical marijuana consumption if
    patients meet specific criteria, the act of consuming marijuana for any
    reason remains illegal under federal law. At the same time, the
    Compassionate Use Act prohibits any physician from being punished for
    having recommended marijuana to a patient for medical purposes. The act
    prohibits the provisions of law making unlawful the possession or
    cultivation of marijuana from applying to a patient, or to a patient's
    primary caregiver, who possesses or cultivates marijuana for the personal
    medical purposes of the patient upon the written or oral recommendation or
    approval of a physician.

    The act was so vague, however, that additional legislation was required to
    further pin down what could and could not be done.

    Additional legislation passed last year provides for some guidelines
    concerning the regulation of medicinal marijuana distribution facilities.
    The bill, SB 420, requires the state department of health services to
    establish and maintain a voluntary program for the issuance of
    identification cards to qualified patients. This requirement has been
    forwarded to the counties for implementation through each county's health
    and human services department.

    Several other regulations were spelled out in the bill as well, including
    the authorization for the state's Attorney General to set forth and clarify
    details concerning possession and cultivation limits.

    Thus far, however, that has not been done. This leaves law enforcement with
    no clear standard to gauge whether a person who has authorization to
    consume medical marijuana is in possession of too much for his own personal
    use or not, Amador County Undersheriff Karl Knobelauch said.

    "There is no statewide standard," Knobelauch said. "How much is too much?
    There are no guidelines in the law to show us that. Law enforcement has
    been begging Sacramento to put those limits down to a specific quantity,
    but they won't do that."

    Knobelauch said the issue remains decided county by county and that how
    much medical marijuana is too much largely depends on the politics of that
    county.

    "We've had juries in Amador County say that 40 plants are too much for
    medicinal use," Knobelauch said. "But a Sonoma County jury said 400 plants
    weren't. It's not fair to law enforcement who has the responsibility to
    enforce the law and its not fair to the person who has authorization to use
    medical marijuana because they don't know how much they are allowed since
    it varies county by county."

    Amador County Counsel John Hahn said Thursday that in conjunction with the
    county's planning department, his office was in the process of preparing an
    interim ordinance regarding medicinal marijuana distribution facilities.

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