CannaHelp to reopen in Palm Springs

August 25, 2008

K Kaufmann, The Desert Sun

With the announcement Monday of new state guidelines for medical marijuana patients and dispensaries, Stacy Hochanadel, former owner of the CannaHelp dispensary in Palm Desert, has confirmed he is planning to reopen the business in Palm Springs within the next few weeks.

"I’ve received my business license from the city," Hochanadel said today. "I believe in what I’m doing, and I know this is the best thing for the people and the community."

The new CannaHelp will be located at 505 Industrial Place, he said.

But City Manager David Ready said that while Hochanadel had paid for a business license, the city had only issued a license receipt that does not authorize him to open a dispensary.

“It has be allowed under the local land use,” Ready said. “There is no current zoning code for medical marijuana dispensaries, hence the business license does not allow him to open such a business.”

The standoff could provide an early test of the guidelines, which Ready said he would be taking the to the City Council for discussion.

Brown said Monday that formal cooperatives registered under the state’s Food and Agricultural Code or organized as less formal "collectives" are legal under the California’s medical marijuana laws.

But he said anyone running a for-profit storefront dispensary not operating as either a registered cooperative or collective may be arrested and prosecuted by local authorities.

Hochanadel and other advocates gave mostly positive marks to the guidelines issued by State Attorney General Jerry Brown.

Joe Elford, chief counsel for Americans for Safe Access, a patients advocacy group that provided input for the guidelines, said they will give cities a basic model for dispensary laws.

"It makes clear to localities that have banned dispensaries outright, (that) is not consistent with the attorney general's interpretation of state law," Elford said.

Hochanadel said he intends to follow the guidelines.

Representatives from the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office were not immediately available for comment.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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