Pubdate: Wed, 8 Jul 2009
Source: Nevada Appeal (Carson City, NV)
Copyright: 2009 Nevada Appeal
Author: Adam Jensen, Nevada Appeal News Service
Bookmark: (Marijuana - Medicinal)


South Lake Tahoe -- Dozens of medical marijuana advocates showed up 
at the South Lake Tahoe City Council meeting on Tuesday, but the 
council did not discuss what action to take against the city's three 
medical marijuana collectives.

In a memorandum to the City Council dated July 7, city attorneys 
Jacqueline Mittelstadt and Patrick Enright asked for direction on how 
the city should proceed regarding police action against the three 
medical marijuana providers that have opened in the city during the past year.

Notice of when police would begin actions against the collectives 
wasn't necessary, but would ensure fairness, according to the memo.

An item on how the city should move forward with enforcement measures 
against the three collectives was put on the agenda following the memorandum.

On Tuesday, the item was pulled from the agenda by council members, 
who did not discuss or take action on the item.

It's unclear how the council's action will effect potential police 
action against the collectives, which received an outpouring of 
support from attendees at Tuesday's meeting.

"We're not criminals. We're patients, and we want to work with the 
cities," said Ken Estes, the founder of Patient to Patient Collective 
in South Lake Tahoe.

Estes has started numerous medical marijuana dispensaries throughout 
California and said he doesn't understand the resistance from the 
city at a time when the Obama administration has signaled it would no 
longer bust dispensaries that are in compliance with state laws.

"It's not a fluke, it's real," Estes told the council. "Please help 
us obtain our medicine."

Outside the meeting, South Shore resident Brian Spencer said 
marijuana has been the only treatment that's eased the anxiety 
attacks and persistent pain he has suffered in his face following a 
vicious assault in 2004.

Getting robbed is one of several threats medical marijuana users 
encounter when their chosen treatment isn't available legally, Spencer said.

"We have to have this," Spencer said. "They can't take this away."

The memo from the city attorneys does not include specific 
allegations against the South Lake Tahoe collectives, but cited 
numerous legal precedents for potential police action against the 
medical marijuana providers and noted most storefront dispensaries 
fail to meet the requirements of California law, according to the 
Police Officer's Association White Paper.

Tahoe Wellness Collective spokesman Cody Bass blasted the memo on 
Tuesday, contending the legal claims from the attorneys are 
"completely misleading."

The White Paper was written by a "cynical anti-medical marijuana 
lobbyist," Bass added.

Action against the collectives would result in an "unwinnable 
lawsuit," Bass said, setting off a loud round of applause from much 
of the packed house on Tuesday.

The audience was scolded by Mayor Jerry Birdwell for the ovation.

"No further outbreaks or we will call this to an end," Birdwell said.

Representatives of each of the city's three collectives said they are 
within the bounds of state law and will stick together if enforcement 
actions come down against the collectives.

But to many at the meeting, the medical marijuana issue in South Lake 
Tahoe is more than a battle over interpreting legal statutes.

Marijuana has been healthier and more effective than the combination 
of 17 daily pills doctors prescribed to treat South Shore resident 
Eric Gordon's epilepsy, said Ellen Gordon, Eric's wife and caretaker. 
Marijuana works faster and more effectively than the pills and could 
prevent the seizure that could one day take Eric's life, Gordon said 
outside Tuesday's meeting.

"There is a human side to this," Ellen Gordon said.
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