FIRST JOAQUIN POT CLUB CLOSES DAYS AFTER OPENING (CA)
Author: Mike Martinez, Staff Writer
Tue, 23 May 2006
Daily Review, The (Hayward, CA)
TRACY -- The first Cannabis Buyers Club in San Joaquin County was snuffed out before it ever got rolling.
And it is not because federal, local or state agents shut down the odorous operation on the third floor of the Opera House building in downtown Tracy.
Last Thursday -- three days after opening for business -- building manager Jim Ward said he asked the owners of the West Valley Resource Co-Op to move out, and they were gone the next day. He said they didn't have a problem with it.
"Whether they had a medical need for it or not, their clientele was a little younger than I had expected," Ward said. "I just told them things weren't working out."
He said the aroma of their product spilled out of the "club."
May 5 for the West Valley Resource Co-Op, city officials said. A phone number listed on the business license had a Los Angeles area code. A message left at the number was not returned.
Tracy police Capt. Mike Maciel said the operation may have been legal to operate, within state law.
"We would certainly want to ensure that they are meeting all the requirements of state law in the operation of the business and that the people acquiring marijuana are ( qualified patients )," Maciel said. "The fact they shut down is not our doing."
In 1996, California voters passed Proposition 215 -- the Compassionate Use Act -- providing the seriously ill with the right to obtain and use marijuana for medical purposes.
for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, therapeutic benefits from smoking the plant are well-documented. Marijuana provides relief from nausea, stimulates appetite and weight gain, and helps combat glaucoma, according the organization's Web site.
The issue has turned into a legal dogfight between states and the federal government. Last June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that federal laws prohibiting the use of medical marijuana remain in effect regardless of state laws that permit its use.
Phil Urie, deputy district attorney for San Joaquin County, said the dispensary, if it really was one, was the first to operate in San Joaquin County.
Even so, the way the county interprets the law, it may have been illegal.
"Our position has always been, and continues to be, that the retail sale of marijuana, even to those who have a ( doctor's ) recommendation, is not legal," Urie said.
"Grow your own, that's what 215 says. The whole ( issue ) with dispensaries was completely out of the realm of Prop. 215 ... Counties like Alameda, San Francisco and Marin, they don't have the political guts to apply the law."
According to the Tracy City Clerk's Office, nothing relating to cannabis clubs has come before the City Council in at least the last 13 years.