California, El Dorado

Medical marijuana by county.

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California, El Dorado

Postby palmspringsbum » Wed Dec 05, 2007 10:41 pm

Medical marijuana program begins in El Dorado County

Tahoe Daily Tribune
August 16th, 2007
by Jeff Munson

As of this week, adult pot smokers deemed to have "serious medical conditions" can apply for a county permit and pay an annual $114 fee to use the psychotropic drug legally with a doctor's prescription.

The El Dorado County Board of Supervisors recently authorized the Public Health Department to locally implement the California Medical Marijuana Program.

The MMP is voluntary and intended to provide patients with an identification card that could be used as evidence that they have a physician's recommendation to use marijuana for medicinal purposes. In El Dorado County, the identification card program began Wednesday.

The California Department of Health Services established the MMP in 2004 to facilitate the registration of qualified patients and their primary caregivers through a statewide identification system. The medical marijuana identification card can also assist law enforcement officials in determining whether individuals using marijuana meet the requirements of California's Compassionate Use Act, also known as Proposition 215.

The Compassionate Use Act exempts patients, their caregivers and physicians who recommend the use of marijuana for medical purposes from state criminal laws for the possession, use, transportation, delivery or cultivation of marijuana. However, the Act does not protect marijuana plants from seizure nor individuals from federal prosecution under the Controlled Substances Act.

To qualify for the MMP and apply for a medical marijuana identification card, an individual must be 18 years of age and older with a serious medical condition and certification from a physician indicating that medical marijuana is appropriate for their condition. Caregivers, whose patients meet the above criteria, are also eligible for the MMP. Identification cards are good for one year only. Applicants must re-apply, show proof of continued medical need, and pay the registration fee each year.

The cost of the medical marijuana identification card in El Dorado County is currently $114. Applicants with proof of current Medi-Cal/CMSP benefits will be charged $57. All fees are non-refundable, even if the application is denied. Applications for the MMP are available at the Emergency Medical Services Agency located at 415 Placerville Drive, Suite J in Placerville and may be picked up weekdays from 8 a.m. to noon and 1p.m. to 5 p.m. Completed applications will be accepted by appointment only.

For additional information on the MMP, please visit To schedule an appointment to return an application, or for further questions about the program or the ID cards in El Dorado County, please call (530) 621-6500. The Public Health Department plans to post additional information about the MMP, including downloadable application forms, on their Web site at by Sept. 1.

Identification cards may be issued to those with qualifying medical conditions

What is a "serious medical condition" that allows for medicinal use of marijuana?

"Serious medical condition" means all of the following medical conditions:
<ul class=postlist>
<li>Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) </li>

<li>Anorexia </li>




<li>Chronic pain</li>



<li>Persistent muscle spasms, including, but not limited to, spasms associated with multiple sclerosis</li>

<li>Seizures, including, but not limited to, seizures associated with epilepsy</li>

<li>Severe nausea</li>

<li>Any other chronic or persistent medical symptom that either: 1) Substantially limits the ability of the person to conduct one or more major life activities as defined in the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 2) If not alleviated, may cause serious harm to the patient's safety or physical or mental health.</li></ul>
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Cameron Park pot shop owner won't close without a fight

Postby palmspringsbum » Sun Jan 06, 2008 12:23 am

The Tahoe Daily Tribune wrote:West Slope: Cameron Park pot shop owner won't close without a fight

Ken Paglia, The Mountain Democrat
December 31, 2007

A Cameron Park medical marijuana dealer will be appealing El Dorado County's refusal to renew his business license.

Matt Vaughn, CEO of the Medical Marijuana Caregivers Association of El Dorado County, has been in business since 2004. MMCA, a non-profit, provides marijuana to patients eligible under Prop. 215, the 1996 voter initiative that allows Californians with a doctor's recommendation to possess the drug.

His first business license was approved in August 2004 under the business description "Public information and implementation of the California Health and Safety Code," said Cherie Raffety, El Dorado County treasurer and tax collector, and whose agency refused his request to renew his business license.

Vaughn then moved his business and applied for another license, which was approved under the description, "Patient support group." The county Planning Commission approved it on the condition that it was a medical referral business only, that there would be no medical purchasing and 'no dispensing of medical services, prescriptions or drugs on site,' said Raffety.

In a conversation with the Mountain Democrat, Vaughn said of the latter condition, "I kind of just ignored them saying that. That is not for them to legally say."

So for four years under Vaughn's direction the MMCA dispensed marijuana, although he said the business is different from a dispensary.

"The function of a 'dispensary' is as simple as it sounds, it is a sales outlet," Vaughn writes on the MMCA Web site. "The Medical Marijuana Caregivers Association of El Dorado County, MMCA, is a non-profit corporation founded by Matt Vaughn of Placerville, CA, to provide safe and anonymous patient support for all aspects of medical marijuana."

But in November his application to renew his business license was refused. In the letter informing Vaughn of the refusal a manager from the Treasurer and Tax Collector's Office cited as reasons for the refusal the condition that no dispensing take place, and that "dispensing marijuana is a violation of federal law."

Sylvia Earl, assistant treasurer tax collector, told the Democrat, "The application four years ago was not clear as to what his intentions were ... Recently we had some other applications for dispensaries and people kept saying 'There's one in Cameron Park.' We did an audit, found the MMCA Website and determined that they were dispensing marijuana."

Earl said the rules governing businesses in the county are different from in the city, which is why there is a dispensary in Placerville that is in business.

The county Board of Supervisors will hear Vaughn's appeal on Jan. 8 at 10 a.m. in the Board of Supervisors meeting chambers at 330 Fair Lane in Placerville.

Vaughn, who is still open for business at least through the 8th, said he is "getting the paperwork together to sue them if they go the wrong way on that.'"

In a letter to the county giving notice of his appeal, Vaughn wrote, "California's courts have consistently ruled that local governing agencies do not have the authority to interpret and enforce federal law. If MMCA were in violation of federal law, it would be the duty of federal authorities to enforce federal law and issue a notice of violation. At that point, the county has the right to deny a business license."

The MMCA can be found online at or reached by phone at 677-5362.

Ken Paglia can be reached at or at (530) 344-5071.
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Medicinal pot supplier turns to court to stay in business

Postby palmspringsbum » Wed Jan 09, 2008 4:34 pm

The Sacramento Bee wrote:Medicinal pot supplier turns to court to stay in business

The Sacramento Bee
By Cathy Locke -
Published 1:19 pm PST Wednesday, January 9, 2008

A medical marijuana advocate told El Dorado County officials that he will seek a court's permission to continue operating a dispensary for medical marijuana patients.

The county Board of Supervisors, on a 4-1 vote Tuesday, upheld the county treasurer-tax collector's decision not to renew a business license for the Medical Marijuana Caregivers Association of El Dorado County, which operates a medical marijuana dispensary on Alhambra Drive in Cameron Park. Matt Vaughn, the association's founder and chief executive officer, said he would sue the county, arguing that the county's action violates the Compassionate Use Act approved by California voters in 1996.

Cherie Raffety, county treasurer-tax collector, said the county ordinance allows refusal of a business license if a business violates state or federal laws. The refusal to renew Vaughn's license, she said, was based on a violation of federal drug law as well as a violation of the county zoning ordinance, which makes no provision for medical marijuana dispensaries.

But Vaughn said, "State law is quite clear with regard to the conflict between state and federal law." He cited a November opinion by California's 4th District Court of Appeal in a case involving the city of Garden Grove. The court declared that it is the responsibility of cities and counties to uphold state law and to leave it to federal authorities to enforce federal drug laws.

Deputy county counsel Michael Ciccozzi, said, "We are not here to dispute the validity of the Compassionate Use Act."

But Ciccozzi said the state law provides limited immunity against criminal prosecution for individuals who use marijuana for medical purposes and those who provide it. He said it allows cities and counties to regulate businesses that dispense it.

"No one is imposing criminal sanctions," Ciccozzi said, arguing that the treasurer-tax collector was upholding county ordinances in denying the business license. In addition to violating federal drug laws, he said the dispensary's location in a general commercial zone raises the issue of zoning code violations.

The Medical Marijuana Caregivers Association obtained its first business license in August 2004, and shortly afterward, the Board of Supervisors imposed a moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries. In September 2005, the board voted to strike all references to dispensaries in the zoning ordinance, arguing that doing so would effectively prohibit such operations in unincorporated areas.

Supervisor Norma Santiago, who voted against refusing the business license, said she wanted to understand how federal drug laws figured in the issue. "When it comes to healthcare issues, is it the responsibility of the state or federal government?" she asked.

With regard to laws such as the federal Americans With Disabilities Act, the state is required to enforce the federal law, Ciccozzi said. But when it comes to the bigger issue of health care, he said, "That's for the politicians. I don't know that it's a legal issue."

Santiago also asked whether striking references to dispensaries from the zoning ordinance prohibited all types of businesses that dispense medicines.

County Counsel Louis Green said pharmacies are allowed. "It was intended to preclude medical marijuana dispensaries," he said.

Don Kearney, describing himself as a former embassy guard in the Middle East and a 17-year resident of El Dorado County, urged the board to grant Vaughn's appeal and renew the dispensary's business license.

"Some people want this to be a fight. Not me," he said.

Kearney said he just wants to be able to obtain his medicine and to be left alone by law enforcement officers.

"If the federal government wants us," he said. "They know where we're at."

<hr class=postrule><center><small>This article is protected by copyright and should not be printed or distributed for anything except personal use.
The Sacramento Bee, 2100 Q St., P.O. Box 15779, Sacramento, CA 95852
Phone: (916) 321-1000

Copyright © The Sacramento Bee</small></center>
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Business-license refusal for med-pot shops upheld

Postby palmspringsbum » Sun Jan 20, 2008 7:57 pm

The El Dorado Hills Telegraph wrote:Last modified: Tuesday, January 15, 2008 12:00 PM PST

Business-license refusal for med-pot shops upheld

The El Dorado Hills Telegraph
By: Roger Phelps

County supervisors Jan. 8 denied an appeal of a business-license refusal for the Medical Marijuana Caregivers Association of El Dorado County.

The decision has been criticized as part of an unfair county targeting of med-pot patients.

Supervisor Ron Briggs's motion passed 4-1 upholding the Treasurer-Tax Collector's Office non-renewal of the Cameron Park non-profit's business license. The department cited a county ordinance specifying licenses can be denied if a business commits a violation of federal law.

"The dispensing of marijuana is a violation of federal law," wrote Treasurer-Tax Collector C.L. Raffety in a report to supervisors.

Matt Vaughn, chief executive officer of the caregivers' association, wrote Dec. 3 to Supervisor Rusty Dupray, "California's courts have consistently ruled that local governing agencies do not have the authority to interpret and enforce federal law."

Use of medical pot is legal in California under the state's 1996 Compassionate Use Act. However, county sheriff's deputies have arrested several licensed pot growers and then turned the cases over to federal authorities for prosecution, a controversial move.

Sheriff Jeff Neves has said he backs his deputies but acknowledges the mismatch between state and federal laws is putting pressure on his department. Neves has said the mismatch needs to be resolved.

Briggs said after the meeting his motion was based simply on what he saw as a correct adminstrative move by the Treasurer-Tax Collector's Office. However, he acknowledged that the idea of legal medical pot use in conservative El Dorado County took some getting used to for him.

"I believe the county has accepted quite a bit in terms of leniency and compassion," Briggs said.

After the decision, Vaughn posted the following statement on the group's Web site.<blockquote>"El Dorado County has made it clear at today's hearing on the appeal of the Treasurer-Tax Collector's refusal to renew MMCA's business license that it wasn't just about renewing our business license. Rather, they showed that they were systematically denying the voters of California due process and fairness and that they intend to continue to deny due process to the sick people of this county by not allowing 'dispensaries' anywhere in the county."</blockquote>
Cami Roberts, the county's accounting division manager, earlier had informed Vaughn that an audit showed original approval of a license for the group carried a condition of no dispensing of prescription drugs.

Vaughn has vowed to fight the county's move.

"If the county wants to turn this into a criminal issue, they know where to find me," Vaughn wrote in the Web posting.

The Telegraph's Roger Phelps can be reached at, or post a comment at

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1 arrested, 93 plants seized during pot raid

Postby palmspringsbum » Thu Jan 24, 2008 2:33 pm

The Tahoe Daily Tribune wrote:1 arrested, 93 plants seized during pot raid

<span class=postbigbold>House in Christmas Valley is condemned after operation</span>

<table class=posttable align=right width=300><tr><td class=postcell><img class=postimg width=300 src=bin/balestrero_alexander-home.jpg></td></tr><tr><td class=postcell><span class=postbold>This home on Beaver Brae in Christmas Valley has a notice posted in its front window showing it was condemned after a pot bust for having a hazardous electrical installation or modification.</span></td></tr></table>

The Tahoe Daily Tribune
By Elaine Goodman
January 24, 2008

A 30-year-old Christmas Valley man was arrested, and a woman described by authorities as his common-law wife was being sought after the alleged discovery Tuesday of 93 marijuana plants in their home.

Alexander Balestrero was booked on suspicion of cultivation of marijuana, felony child endangerment and a felony warrant involving firearm possession, said Jeff Catchings, task force commander for the South Lake El Dorado Narcotics Enforcement Team. The arrest came after SLEDNET agents served a search warrant at the home on Beaver Brae, Catchings said.

The allegation of child endangerment arises from the unsafe living conditions in the home resulting from the marijuana grow, Catchings said. Wiring in the house was unsafe, and in addition, carbon dioxide used for the alleged grow operation created a health hazard, he said.

The Lake Valley Fire Protection District condemned the house after the raid because of the fire hazard, Catchings said.

Authorities were searching Wednesday for Balestrero's common-law wife, Cynthia Norris, who also lived at the Beaver Brae home and was suspected to be on the run with the couple's 12-year-old son, Catchings said.

Balestrero remained jailed Wednesday afternoon with bail set at $92,500, according to a sheriff's department Web site.

The marijuana plants allegedly were being grown in the garage and one of the bedrooms of the three-bedroom home. Catchings estimated the value of the grow at between $35,000 and $40,000.

Catchings said the operation came to the attention of authorities when a deputy driving past with his window open smelled it.

In fact, many raids of marijuana-growing operations result from tips from members of the public, who can smell the plants, Catchings said.

Property owners and managers also are getting into the act, prompted by concerns about the damage the marijuana-growing operations cause to buildings. The damp conditions used for the plants also fosters the growth of black mold, Catchings said.

"The damage to these houses is extraordinary," Catchings said.

Balestrero told authorities that he had a prescription for medical marijuana, Catchings said, but the number of plants far exceeded that allowed under medical marijuana rules.

Catchings said SLEDNET is not going after legitimate medical-marijuana users.

"We're not targeting people with a prescription," he said.

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