Pubdate: Tue, 11 Jun 2013
Source: Calaveras Enterprise (CA)
Copyright: 2013 Calaveras Enterprise
Author: Joel Metzger


San Andreas pot dispensary owner protests

With the opening of Little Trees Wellness Collective in Arnold,
Calaveras County now has three medical marijuana storefronts in
operation. What may be a problem is only one of them is properly
permitted with the county.

The new medical marijuana dispensary at 2641 Highway 4, Suite 7A,
opened its doors Thursday, giving eastern Highway 4 patients easy
access to various types of marijuana buds, edibles and concentrated
cannabis blends.

The store's owner, Jeremy Carlson, has been running a medical
marijuana delivery service throughout the county since January. He
incorporated his collective in December of last year as a nonprofit.

Carlson said he wanted to open a collective in early 2012 but wasn't
comfortable doing so until he saw strong momentum toward marijuana-law
reform. He decided to begin with a "small delivery service" to gauge
the community's needs.

"It was clear from the beginning that there was demand for a
brick-and-mortar collective in the upper Highway 4 corridor," he said.
"I studied the county ordinances regarding storefronts and also read
the Board of Supervisors meeting minutes when storefronts were discussed."

After analyzing the ordinance and discussions, Carlson concluded
county officials knew the ordinance governing medical marijuana was
out of date, and he believed they intended to rewrite it.

"Considering there is another storefront operating, with no issues,
out of compliance with this dated ordinance for three years, it
appeared the county respected the need for safe access to cannabis and
understood that the ordinance was obsolete."

To read the county ordinance, click here Chapter 17.91 - MEDICAL

The dispensary to which Carlson referred is called Forgotten
Knowledge. It is in Valley Springs and owned by Guy Meyers. County
records indicate Meyers' shop is not permitted by the county, and yet
it has not been shut down.

One dispensary owner, who owns a shop in San Andreas that is
officially permitted with the county is not thrilled with the news of
Little Trees opening its doors.

Gretchen Seagraves, owner of Blue Mountain Collective in San Andreas,
claims Carlson's operation isn't on the up and up.

"Little Trees Wellness Collective has been running an illegal delivery
service around the tri-county area for the last couple of months, and
now they are opening an illegal collective," she said. "They have no
business license, no county permit and no Board of Equalization resale

Seagraves said the delivery service alone has sliced her business in
half -- a percentage that could get even worse now that the storefront
is open.

"Their illegal delivery service has significantly affected my
business, which I have worked very hard to try to establish with a
significant financial investment," she said. "I can honestly say that
I believe my business has dropped off nearly 50 percent. An honest
business cannot compete with the black market, due to wages and overhead."

The burr under Seagraves' saddle is that she put a lot of effort into
jumping through all the hoops the county required to be what she calls
"legitimate." Seeing Carlson set up shop without jumping through any
hoops seems downright unfair.

"At a minimum, I hope the county can send their agent a cease and
desist letter," she said of Little Trees Collective.

That letter is exactly what Calaveras County Planner 4 Andrew Mogensen
said may be on its way to the new collective.

"We do not have a permit in for Little Trees Wellness, they have not
applied for an administrative use permit, they have not contacted the
county and they are not permitted at this time," Mogensen said. He
said dispensaries can only open in areas zoned CP, which is intended
for professional offices.

"Even if you have the right zoning, you still have to get approval
from planning," he said.

If Calaveras County Code Compliance finds the collective is operating
without a permit and in the wrong zoning, it would typically issue a
cease and desist letter, Mogensen continued.

"That's a big deal," he said. "It means you can't operate. You shut
down immediately."

Why Forgotton Knowledge, which is operating without a permit, hasn't
been sent a cease and desist letter was not made clear by planning
officials during conversations Monday.

But before a business can be issued an order to shut down, Code
Compliance has to find it, and neither planning nor Code Compliance
knew where Little Trees was located as of Monday morning.

"It's hard to go after somebody when you don't know where they are,"
Mogensen said. "I'm sure Code Compliance is out looking for them."

One thing is clear. Carlson isn't trying to hide.

Sgt. Chris Hewitt with the Calaveras County Sheriff's Office said
Carlson has already met with law enforcement.

"All I know is our narcotics investigators did meet with this person,"
Hewitt said. "Right now they are not sure where the process is at. As
far as business licenses, permits and everything -- that would be
through the county. We may at some point get involved if there is a
drug violation."

Carlson didn't seem overly concerned about being shut down by the
county, because he feels the county has become more understanding of
medical marijuana patients' needs and he believes the political
landscape is changing rapidly.

The approach Carlson is using, paired with his interest in helping
terminally ill patients attracted the attention of Collective Patient
Resources, a community organization that advocates for medical
marijuana patients, providers and their families. One of its functions
is to provide medical marijuana at no charge to terminally ill patients.

Tom Liberty, CPR director, announced the organization would officially
endorse Little Trees. It has not endorsed either of the other
dispensaries operating in the county.

"He's willing to refer the terminally and chronically ill people to
us, so we can provide them with free medicine," Liberty said. "We
endorsed him because he is as interested in the community service
aspect of patient care. The bottom line was he's willing to refer
terminally ill and chronically disabled patients to our organization
so they can get free medicine, rather than continuing to sell them

When looking at his business future, Carlson is optimistic.

"In recent years Calaveras County has taken a much more compassionate
position with medical cannabis patients and we're confident they will
continue to do so as there is a real need for us in the Arnold area,"
he said. "We hope to play a part in the economic revitalization of the
Highway 4 corridor, create stable jobs, lower crime and help those who
would otherwise be forced into the black market for medicine they
genuinely need."

For more on Little Trees Wellness Collective, call 736-7635, visit or email  ---
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