Pubdate: Fri, 27 May 2011
Source: Record Searchlight (Redding, CA)
Copyright: 2011 Record Searchlight
Author: Alayna Shulman
Bookmark: (Cannabis - California)
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)


Hansen Says Medical Pot Being Sold Illegally

Despite recent data suggesting 40,000 people belong to Redding's 
medical marijuana collectives, Police Chief Peter Hansen says there's 
no way these groups have that many individual members, which means 
his department will have to start enforcing the city ordinance that 
forbids membership to more than one collective.

"I think that number is astronomical," he said. "Obviously, they're 
disobeying that" ordinance.

Redding Police Lt. Jeff Wallace compiled data from the city's 17 
collectives this month to use for a Women's Fund forum on drug abuse.

But what he found - that 40,000 people belong to these collectives - 
shows some Proposition 215 patients in the area must be abusing the 
system, Hansen said.

"It's shedding a light on what kind of scam this is," he said.

Clearly, Hansen said, there are members violating the city ordinance 
that's meant to prevent patients from using their prescriptions to 
purchase extra drugs with the intent to sell them illegally.

"This is a moneymaking business, and a lot of these so-called 
patients are misusing their recommendations to sell marijuana," he said.

Of course, Wallace said, people from out of the area can have 
membership at a Redding collective, so the number he tallied could 
include them - and it doesn't necessarily mean that nearly half the 
city's population is either a medical marijuana user or flouting the system.

But Erica Bond, an employee of the now-defunct Nature's 420 
collective on Hilltop Drive, said it was common to come across 
patients with memberships to numerous collectives in the year she 
worked there, though they had to sign an affidavit of exclusivity to 
become a member.

"Nobody really goes to one dispensary. Every time I saw someone come 
in, they'd be flipping through all their dispensary cards, looking 
for ours," she said. "They don't really enforce it (the ordinance) in any way."

Hansen said the Police Department doesn't currently keep track of 
collective members because it isn't fair for law-abiding users to 
have their medical information become a public record.

"I don't think that's fair for the legitimate patients, for me to 
have their names here," he said. "I don't want to have to turn them 
over to the newspaper."

Instead, Hansen said, he'll now have to ask for membership rosters 
from each collective to weed out duplicates.

Since the city's ordinance also says collective members can possess 
only a prescribed amount of marijuana at a time, Nature's 420 bought 
members' excess pot, Bond said.

And with a clientele that bloomed from around 1,800 to 4,000 in the 
year before it closed, Bond said she suspects some members were using 
their recommendations to grow and sell marijuana for profit.

"I think that because of the recession and the economy, a lot of 
people are starting to grow marijuana to make an extra buck," she said.

But, Hansen said, though he's not sure when it will happen, the 
Redding Police Department is going to make sure it's not so easy for 
patients to double-dip at different collectives.

"If you want to purchase your medicine conveniently through one of 
the Redding-licensed collectives, then you have to follow some 
rules," he said. "There's nothing that requires anyone in this town 
to be a collective member."
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom