Pubdate: Mon, 31 Dec 2007
Source: Tahoe Daily Tribune (South Lake Tahoe, CA)
Copyright: 2007 Tahoe Daily Tribune
Author: Ken Paglia, The Mountain Democrat
Bookmark: (Cannabis - California)
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)


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 

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.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom