3 cannabis clubs ordered to close

September 05, 2005

Karen Holzmeister, Contra Costa Times

By Oct. 1, three medical marijuana dispensaries in Ashland and Cherryland could disappear like a puff of smoke.

The cannabis clubs, half of those currently operating in the unincorporated county, Thursday got orders to close down after failing to apply for permanent operating permits.

The letters were signed by Alameda County Sheriff Charles Plummer, who opposes marijuana sales dispensaries.

If the doors dont close, said sheriffs Capt. Stephen Roderick, the businesses face misdemeanor charges of violating the medical marijuana ordinance adopted in June by county supervisors.

The two Cherryland businesses are We Are Hemp at 913 E. Lewelling Blvd., and Garden of Eden, 21227 Foothill Blvd.

The Ashland business is A Natural Source at 16360 Foothill Blvd., the site of an Aug. 19 shootout in which one of the five gunmen was killed.

The three remaining marijuana sales outlets, which met Tuesdays permit application deadline, can remain open while county administrators review the applications. A recommendation is expected later this fall on which, if any, of these clinics should receive two-year marijuana sales permits.

The letter came as a shock to Adele Morgan, a co-owner of We Are Hemp.

Morgans five-year-old business is the oldest medical marijuana clinic in southern Alameda Countys unincorporated communities. She already was reeling over what she said was a misunderstanding that led to her failure to meet Tuesdays application deadline.

I thought applications were on hold, Morgan, a retired nurse, said Thursday afternoon. I just needed an extension to get the money for the application and my rent, amounting — she added — to

$4,000 for application-related expenses and $3,000 for her monthly rent.

The message machine was on at the Garden of Eden Thursday afternoon, while a man answering the telephone at A Natural Source said the owner of the business was away.

Oakland attorney Dennis Roberts, who said earlier last week that he represented the three clinics that did not submit applications, pledged to file suit against the county unless it extended the application deadline and removed some of its questions for personal information.

Morgan claimed Thursday that Roberts does not represent her, and that she only authorized him to write a letter on her behalf requesting an extension.

Last fall, when the pre-ordinance study started, there were seven dispensaries in the unincorporated areas. New clinics were banned while ordinance regulations were researched and, in the interim, one of the Ashland clinics closed.

The ordinance allowed operating dispensaries in unincorporated areas to have the first opportunity to get the three coveted permits. The application period opened July 21, and Roderick said sheriffs representatives were up front about the application process, as well as available to deal with questions and concerns.

It is not our policy to trick anybody, Roderick said Thursday.

Roderick said earlier this week that his department is not inclined to change the application deadline.

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