Source: Sacramento Bee (CA)
Author: Art Campos -- Bee Staff Writer
Published: Monday, May 3, 2004
Copyright: 2004 The Sacramento Bee
Contact: [email protected]
A second medical marijuana store has opened in Placer County.
Located next to a pizza parlor on Highway 174 in Colfax, the Golden State Patient Care Collective began selling marijuana about a month ago.
Co-owner Jim Henry said his dispensary provides a needed service to foothills residents and others with health problems.
"People come in every day and thank us for opening here," said Henry, who is also an emergency medical technician.
As with the medicinal "pot shop" that opened in Roseville in January, the Colfax store finds itself in some controversy.
At least one City Council member is unhappy that the issue of a medicinal marijuana shop was never publicly discussed by the council and says the store's presence is bad for the town's image.
"I don't think this type of business adds anything to the city," said Councilwoman Sherrie Blackmun. "I don't want Colfax to be known for this."
City administrators said the cannabis club went through all legal channels to obtain a business license, and adheres to Proposition 215, which was approved by state voters in 1996 and permits medicinal marijuana for qualified patients.
In addition, a new state law that went into effect this year allows qualified patients and caregivers to cultivate the plant.
However, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration refuses to recognize the legality of California's medicinal marijuana laws and cautions the Colfax store owner not to be surprised if agents pound on his door with an arrest warrant.
"Marijuana is not a medicine," said Richard Meyer, special agent for the DEA office in San Francisco. "We take issue with the term 'medical marijuana.' "
The threat from the federal agency worries Henry, 55, a Nevada County resident who along with co-owner Cheryle Reindeau, opened the Colfax store April 2.
"But outweighing that fear is the opportunity I have to provide cannabis to people who need it," Henry said.
Henry said he tried to open his store in Nevada County but encountered opposition from District Attorney Michael Ferguson, who said he interprets Proposition 215 to mean that only someone seriously ill can possess and grow marijuana for medicinal purposes.
"To me, that means you can't open a shop and sell it," Ferguson said.
Henry eventually chose Colfax after talking to Mayor Sharon Gieras, who isn't opposed to the idea of a dispensary.
"It is supposed to be used medicinally." said Gieras, former owner of a health food store.
Gieras said she began telling residents in March that a medicinal marijuana store wanted to operate in town.
"Most people were shocked. They didn't think it was a good idea," she said. "I told them that sometimes a sick person is unable to eat and that medicinal marijuana allows the person to eat and to get his appetite back. It can also be good for easing the person's pain."
City Councilman Joshua Alpine also supported the business.
"As long as they are doing it responsibly and have good control over it, I don't see it as a problem," he said. "Anything that helps (a sick person), I'm all for it."
City Manager Bob Perrault said his staff reviewed the business application and "made the determination that there was no legal way for the city to deny the use," he said.
Perrault said the store is viewed as a pharmaceutical use, which is permitted in a commercial zone.
However, Councilwoman Blackmun felt the issue should have been discussed in a public meeting.
Henry said his customers, who come to his shop from as far away as Fresno and Bakersfield, include those coping with cancer, AIDS, hepatitis, chronic pain, chemotherapy treatments or glaucoma.
The buyers need a doctor's written recommendation for the cannabis, he said.
"The patient must have the original recommendation from the doctor and a California identification," Henry said. " And I call the doctor to make sure."
"So far, we have a steady flow of patients - about 45," said Henry's daughter, Wendy, 23, who helps her father with the business.
Prices depend on the marijuana's quality, Jim Henry said. "The best quality is $400 an ounce," he said.
Vendors and customers provide him the cannabis, he said.
Stores like Henry's are not a DEA priority, officials say. Many cannabis clubs have operated in the Bay Area without being raided. "All over California, our number one priority is methamphetamine," said Meyer.
Gordon Taylor, DEA agent in Sacramento, said there is a "statewide misperception" that nearly every person who claimed to use marijuana for a medical reason is suffering from a terminal illness.
"It's becoming increasingly apparent to us that many people who are utilizing (Proposition 215) laws are doing it to justify their chronic use of marijuana," Taylor said.
Meyer said his agency raided a home that had marijuana plants and the occupant claimed he needed them to treat dyslexia, a learning disorder.
In Old Roseville, Richard Marino, who opened a medical marijuana center called Capital Compassionate Care on Lincoln Street, said a second business in Placer County is fine with him.
"Competition is always good," he said. "People who are sick won't have to drive a long way."
But Marino wasn't pleased that a similar business is scheduled to open in Citrus Heights this month.
"It doesn't make sense to have our center in Roseville and then another in Citrus Heights just four miles away," he said. "I don't think you need to open them on every street corner."
Marino is looking to open a medical marijuana dispensary in Elk Grove. The City Council there has voted to place restrictions on such businesses, partially to discourage them from setting up shop in the community.
Marino's staff wouldn't give an estimate on how many patients they serve daily, saying only that business is "consistent."
Related Articles & Web Site:
Medical Marijuana Information Links
The Pot Shop - Roseville Press-Tribune
Store for Medical Pot Opens in Roseville