Pubdate: Tue, 20 Dec 2011
Source: Marin Independent Journal (CA)
Copyright: 2011 Marin Independent Journal
Author: Richard Halstead


The Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana, the oldest dispensary of 
its kind in the state, quietly shut down over the weekend, the victim 
of a federal crackdown.

"They moved out of the premises just before 2 a.m. on Sunday 
morning," said Peter Goldstone, a Santa Rosa attorney who has 
represented the Alliance, and its operator, Lynnette Shaw, in an 
eviction proceeding that was brought by the Alliance's landlord. Shaw 
could not be reached for comment.

The landlord, Farshid Ezazi of Orinda, initiated the eviction 
proceeding after Melinda Haag, the San Francisco-based U.S. attorney 
for the Northern District of California, threatened to confiscate the 
building in which the Alliance operated at 6 School St. in Fairfax. 
The Fairfax dispensary is among dozens statewide that federal 
prosecutors say they have targeted due to the dispensaries' proximity 
to parks, schools and other facilities used by children.

The Marin Wellness Center, a medical marijuana dispensary at 1100 Sir 
Francis Drake Blvd. in Kentfield, is also being forced to close by 
Jan. 1 due to pressure applied to its landlord by federal 
authorities. A third dispensary, the Green Door Wellness Education 
Center at 7586 Redwood Blvd. Suite C in Novato, is battling an 
eviction proceeding brought by its landlord and is awaiting a Marin 
Superior Court judge's decision after a one-day trial on the eviction 
last week.

Shaw had previously said that she would seek to continue storing 
thousands of patients' medical records at the School Street site. She 
said she had nowhere else to put them. But Goldstone said the records 
have been removed.

"My understanding is that it is what they call broom-clean, and 
they've turned over the keys," Goldstone said.

The federal government began the process of confiscating the School 
Street building on Nov. 18, even though Ezazi had already initiated 
court action to evict the Marin Alliance. Robert Weems, Ezazi's 
attorney, said his client filed court papers last week formally 
acknowledging ownership of the 6 School St. property, a step he had 
to take if he hopes to retain ownership. Weems said the Marin 
Alliance's closure should strengthen Ezazi's case.

"We think it is significant that possession has been returned to us," 
Weems said. Ezazi can now file a motion to dismiss the forfeiture 
proceeding or opt for a trial, Weems said.

Shaw, who has always shared information freely about the Alliance's 
long-standing legal battles, stopped responding to questions from the 
press earlier this month, saying that she was "in great danger" and 
had to end her relationship with the Alliance, which she helped found.

A message on the Alliance's website announcing the closure states, 
"We are very sorry to announce that we have shut our doors until we 
can resolve certain legal issues. The battle is not over, but we must 
await further court action that will allow us to reopen, hopefully 
within a month or two. Unfortunately, our owner and director, 
Lynnette Shaw, finds it best to sever her relationship with Marin Alliance."

It was not entirely clear why Shaw believes she can no longer be 
associated with the Alliance. It may be significant, however, that 
the complaint for forfeiture filed by federal prosecutors against the 
6 School St. site mentions that in 2002 "the District Court issued an 
order permanently enjoining the Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana 
and Lynette Shaw from engaging in the distribution of marijuana... ."

It was also uncertain where patients who were obtaining their medical 
marijuana from the Marin Alliance will go now.

Fairfax Town Manager Michael Rock said no one from the Alliance has 
contacted the town about seeking an alternative site. Rock has said 
the Alliance cannot legally operate a delivery service under its use 
permit without an approved office in town.

Barbara Summers of Mill Valley, who uses medical marijuana to treat 
sciatica, anxiety and to help her sleep, said she is "very 
disappointed" that the Fairfax club closed.

"I had discovered it fairly recently, and it was saving me a trip 
into San Francisco," Summers said.

Summers said the federal crackdown is "bogus."

"When Obama took office, he said he wasn't going to go after anything 
like this. That wasn't how he was going to spend our tax dollars," 
Summers said. "I feel like it's a campaign move and nothing else."
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom