California, Stanislaus

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California, Stanislaus

Postby palmspringsbum » Thu May 04, 2006 10:51 am

The Modesto Bee wrote:County will issue pot cards
Health agency obeys medical use ID law; board opposes sales


Last Updated: May 3, 2006, 09:36:24 AM PDT

Stanislaus County residents will be able to get county-issued medical marijuana identification cards in the future.

But they won't be able to buy the drug legally here, if county Board of Supervisors Chairman Ray Simon has anything to do with it.

Deputy County Counsel Dean Wright told the board Tuesday that state law mandates medical marijuana cards be issued by the county public health department.

The cards would be issued to people who have prescriptions from their doctors to alleviate medical symptoms, Wright said.

Patients could show the cards to police officers to prove they are entitled to possess up to 8 ounces of dried marijuana or 12 plants, Wright said.

The officer could check the information against a state database to verify that the person is entitled to have the drug.

Cleopathia Moore, associate director of the county Health Services Agency, said the agency is working on issuing cards. A request for bids to make the cards drew only one bidder that didn't meet the qualifications, Moore said.

There is no clear deadline for the county to have the cards, she said. About 23 of California's 58counties are issuing them.

The issue of whether the county should allow businesses to sell marijuana for medical purposes is a separate issue, and not mandated by the state, Wright said.

While California voters legalized the use of marijuana for medical purposes almost 10 years ago, the sale and possession of marijuana violates federal law, putting local jurisdictions in a quandary.

Wright said he is working with county Planning Commission Director Ron Freitas on how to deal with people who want to set up stores to sell marijuana.

Simon left no doubt about how he feels about the issue.

"If they choose to have a card and go to a county that allows the sale of it, that's their problem," Simon said.

"I will not be supporting sales of marijuana by any individual as long as I'm here," Simon said. "I suspect in the future you will find they will be trying to add mushrooms, heroin and other things to this. They will follow the president of Mexico. You will find they will push to add that to the cards in the future."

The Mexican legislature recently voted to legalize the possession of small amounts of previously illegal drugs, including marijuana, cocaine and heroin. Mexican President Vicente Fox indicated he would sign the legislation.

Medical marijuana stores have been banned in several cities in Stanislaus County, including Modesto, Patterson, Ceres and Turlock.

Modesto still has a medical marijuana dispensing business, California Healthcare Collective. It must close in July because of the city ban. A representative of the store declined to comment Tuesday.

Freitas said the county hasn't received any applications for a medical marijuana store. He said his department would try to put together a proposal for the board to have an ordinance on the books before someone tries to open a shop.

Other supervisors indicated Tuesday that they agreed with Simon.

Supervisor Bill O'Brien said he probably would oppose marijuana stores in the county.

"I think we all pretty much think alike on that issue. We do have to comply with the cards, but nothing in the law says we have to zone for marijuana stores," O'Brien said. "My guess is that they would have a tough time getting that passed."

Supervisor Jim DeMartini said he didn't think state law could supercede federal law on the matter.

"We don't have to and we won't allow it to be sold in this county," DeMartini said.

On the Net: ... Corr07.pdf.

Bee staff writer Tim Morancan be reached at 578-2349or



THE ISSUE: Counties are required by state law to issue medical marijuana identification cards for patients with prescriptions. But counties are not obligated to allow stores to sell the drug. Possession and sale are prohibited by federal law.

WHAT IT MEANS: Medical marijuana users will be able to get a card to show police they are entitled to have up to 8 ounces of the drug, or 12 plants. But to buy it. And they remain at risk of federal arrest and prosecution.

WHAT'S NEXT: The county Health Services Agency is working toward issuing the ID cards but doesn't have a deadline. The county Planning Department probably will send an ordinance on marijuana stores to the Board of Supervisors. Legal challenges are working through the court system to resolve the conflict between state and federal law.

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Stanislaus County Passes on Medicinal Marijuana ID Cards

Postby palmspringsbum » Sat Nov 04, 2006 9:15 pm

KXTV News 10 wrote:Stanislaus County Passes on Medicinal Marijuana ID Cards

Written for the web by Tim Daly, Reporter

KXTV 10 News
October 25, 2006

<img src=/bin/icon_video.gif> Video: <a href= target=_blank> Tim Daly's Report</a>

<table class=posttable align=right width=185><tr><td class=postcell><img class=postimg src=bin/california_county-id-card.jpg></td></tr></table>About half the counties in the state have approved programs that offer identification cards for users of medicinal marijuana. Stanislaus County is one that still has not.

A few years ago the state lawmakers passed legislation that requires counties to work with the state to develop those cards. They're to be used by people who have shown they need marijuana to ease a serious medical condition.

But while voters in California approved the use of marijuana for medicinal reasons, that use is still considered illegal by the federal government. That's a big reason why so many counties have not yet issued the cards -- that conflict of laws.

It's an especially hot topic in Stanislaus County, where the city of Modesto recently shut down a medicinal marijuana operation. Police accused the operators of distributing marijuana to those who weren't truly in need.

Modesto Police Chief Roy Wasden opposes the creation of a card program because he feels there's too much potential for fraud and abuse.

But supporters of the card program say the paperwork would make it easier for police to identify legitimate uses of medicinal marijuana.

Stanislaus supervisors voted to delay their vote because the issue could soon be settled in court. Three California counties are suing the state, claiming it forces those agencies to break federal law. The Stanislaus board is waiting to see how the courts rule before taking a final vote on the card program.

Among the spectators in Modesto listening to the board, police chief, and others; a Ceres man who's been wheelchair-bound for 30 years. Several discs in Robert Blanchard's back have ruptured and he says he's in pain from head to toe, 24 hours a day.

Blanchard's been smoking marijuana for medical reasons for the last three years. He says that has eased much of his pain, while allowing him to stop taking four other medications.

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Soap Store Dispensary Operators Will Come Out Clean

Postby palmspringsbum » Wed Feb 27, 2008 5:14 pm

Medical Marijuana of America wrote:
Soap Store Dispensary Operators Will Come Out Clean

Medical Marijuana of America
Written by Vanessa Nelson
Wednesday, February 20 2008

MODESTO, CA – Patience appears to have paid off for Shannon and Michael O’Leary.

<table class=posttable align=right width=250><tr><td class=postcell><img class=postimg src=bin/oleary_michael.gif alt="Michael O'Leary stands outside the Stanislaus County Courthouse"></td></tr></table>The two brothers have been prosecuted in Stanislaus County Superior Court ever since the June 2006 raid of their medical marijuana dispensary, The Healthy Choice. Nevertheless, both O’Learys will be walking away from the case with no jail time.

To be precise, Michael will be walking away with an electronic monitor and a guilty plea on one count of maintaining a place for the manufacture or distribution of a controlled substance. This charge, defense attorney Omar Figueroa explained, is “reducible to a misdemeanor,” while the case against Shannon will be dropped entirely. In addition, the brothers will be given back all of the funds and the property seized, with the exception of the marijuana itself. The return of property provision was the final detail Figueroa mentioned while explaining the plea deal after court yesterday. “I almost forgot about that,” he said, smiling. “I get so focused on the freedom part that I forget about the money.”

But the chunk of change from the dispensary is no trifle. At the time of the raid, law enforcement agents inventoried the seizure of approximately $20,000 in cash.

Still, the O’Learys won’t exactly be living the fat life once they get the money returned. “I’ll need it to pay for the ankle bracelet,” Michael pointed out.

Not only is the electronic monitoring expensive, but the O’Learys must also contend with the costs of legal fees, failed investments and lost income. The bail set on Michael alone, for example, easily exceeded the amount of cash seized from the dispensary.

The Healthy Choice was located in a small business center on Modesto’s busy McHenry Avenue. The reception area of the facility contained commonplace hygiene items that were offered for sale, inspiring law enforcement officers to claim that the O’Leary brothers were using a soap store as a front for a drug dealing operation. Such allegations contradict the brothers’ contention that The Healthy Choice was a legitimate dispensary that operated in compliance with the state’s medical marijuana laws.

California voters passed Proposition 215 in 1996, allowing patients with a physician’s approval to legally possess and cultivate marijuana. The initiative also made a provision for legal protections to apply to people who act as caregivers for these patients, thereby creating the basis of legitimacy for medical marijuana dispensaries. However, Senate Bill 420, which came into effect five years ago, put a great deal of regulatory power into the hands of each individual county. Stanislaus County, in which The Healthy Choice was located, has been notoriously hostile towards facilities that dispense medical marijuana.

The Stanislaus Drug Enforcement Agency, a local narcotics task force, tried to bolster evidence of illicit activity by interrogating the patients who arrived at The Healthy Choice during the raid. Agent Kelly Rea of the SDEA reported that about thirty people came to the dispensary at that time, but during questioning only half of these individuals showed officers evidence of a medical marijuana recommendation. This led Rea to assume that The Healthy Choice sold marijuana “to anyone and everyone.”

As for more conclusive proof of this accusation, it was left up to the courts to determine. The O’Leary brothers were arrested after the raid and held briefly at the county jail before release on bail. They have watched their case crawl through the legal system for nearly two years now, sometimes sitting for hours in a dreary, dilapidated courtroom amongst a cattle call of arraignments.

But patience has paid off for the defendants, as has their choice of counsel. Hiring San Francisco lawyers Omar Figueroa and James Clark gave the O’Leary brothers a sense of hope, and the defense attorneys seem to have delivered on the expectations.

Though essentially resolved, the case must still go through the formal change of plea and sentencing proceedings. These hearings have been put off for several weeks so Figueroa can find a private electronic monitoring company that will be approved by the court to provide Michael’s ankle bracelet surveillance. The defense attorney is reluctant to subject his client to the monitoring program offered by the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department, and is confident that he can find an acceptable alternative in the private sector. Nevertheless, certain conditions will likely be the same amongst all the companies, Figueroa says, including the requirement that Michael maintain a curfew, provide proof of employment and conform to defined work hours.

These details will be formalized during the final hearings, which will begin next month for the defendants. They have been scheduled to be back in court on March 25th, 2008, at 8:30am. Both brothers will appear in front of Judge Thomas Zeff in Department 5 of Stanislaus County Superior Court at 800 11th Street in Modesto, CA.

In general, the O’Learys’ attitude is one of overwhelming relief and optimism. Taking a plea deal can mean a compromise of principle for those who believe their actions were legally and morally right, but the alternatives can also be harrowing. There are plenty of cases for comparison, but one example seems particularly resonant and instructive. The Healthy Choice was raided nearly in tandem with another medical marijuana dispensary that was located on the very same busy Modesto Street. The operators charged in that bust, Luke Scarmazzo and Ricardo Montes, are currently being prosecuted in federal court. There, California’s medical marijuana laws will provide no defense, leaving the defendants facing life in prison if convicted.

After balancing the risks and benefits of the decision to plea, the O’Leary brothers are secure in their choice. And they are eager to start living the rest of their lives, out from under the shadow of prosecution.

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