CAPS closure may leave only one dispensary in Coachella Valley

January 13, 2007

K. Kaufmann, The Desert Sun (CA)

Medical marijuana users in the Coachella Valley may be facing problems getting the drug as the possible closing of a dispensary in Palm Springs is overwhelming the only other outlet in the area. The Collective Apothecary of Palm Springs--CAPS--may have closed its doors for good on Thursday, according to area medical marijuana advocates.

The dispensary was not open for business today, with a sign on the door saying only it would be closed for the day.

The possible closure has sent a small flood of patients to CannaHelp in Palm Desert, which is struggling to keep up with patient demand, said Ryan Michaels, a medical marijuana advocate who is working at the dispensary.

The dispensary, located at 73-350 El Paseo, will be closed Monday, for one day only, Michaels said, so area advocates and patients can meet to discuss what they see as a looming crisis.

"We're trying to figure out what to do," Michaels said in a phone interview. "This is not okay. There has to be some form of safe access."

The dispensary has been registering about 20 new patients a day since Thursday, bringing its total patient load to more than 1,700, Michaels said.

CannaHelp has been facing legal and financial pressures of its own since last month when agents from the Riverside County Sheriff's Department served a search-and-seizure warrant on the business.

Felony charges arising from the raid were filed earlier this month against owner Stacy Hochanadel and two managers, John Bednar and James Campbell. The three turned themselves in at the Riverside County Jail in Indio last week and were released on bail on Thursday.

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