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
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
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
"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.