Plans for Fresno Marijuana Dispensary on Hold

January 2, 2009 7:16:40 PM PST
Plans for a medicinal marijuana dispensary in Fresno's Tower District seem to be on hold. Just weeks after the county started issuing cards identifying medicinal marijuana users, there's still nowhere to obtain the drug.E-mails and internet postings first let people know a dispensary was opening in Fresno's Tower District, catching the attention of not only residents, but also Fresno law enforcement and city leaders. From the sidewalk, all that can be seen at 210 West Olive is a desk and a couple of chairs. But an internet posting on Craigslist identifies the space as a place medicinal marijuana patients can get the drug they rely on. And some people Action News talked to in the Tower District Friday say it's not a huge surprise or a problem. "I do believe that if anywhere a marijuana dispensary would open it would be in this area," said Benjamin Hernandez of Fresno.

Ryan McAlister agreed. "I'm all for it, I don't think its hurting anybody. If it's going to make people feel better than why not?" said McAlister.

Dr. Terrill Brown says he was excited to hear of the dispensary's opening. He operates Medical Cannabis of Fresno just across the street from the planned dispensary and writes recommendations for patients he believes could benefit from the drug. "It's an extraordinarily safe and diversely useful substance that's been provided, in my opinion, by its designer," said Dr. Brown.

The majority of Dr. Brown's 2,600 patients come to him for recommendations, which allow users to get medical marijuana ID cards. But right now, those patients have to drive outside of Fresno to get pot. "I hate for my local patients to have to make that drive and I think it's kind of insensitive of Fresno as a whole to not meet the needs of thousands of patients we have here," said Dr. Brown.

For now, the future of the planned dispensary is uncertain. The Fresno Police Department says they went by to talk to the operator this week, letting him know he didn't have proper permits to operate. Dr. Brown is hopeful it will be a temporary setback. "Having a local supply run legitimately by people who care and are committed really sounded good. I'm disappointed there are some other hoops they have to do jump through in order to get permission," said Dr. Brown.

It appears plans for a dispensary at the location could be on hold indefinitely. Action News spoke with the city attorney late Friday afternoon who said in order to obtain necessary permits and operate in Fresno the dispensary would have to comply with both federal and state laws. That could be impossible because federal law bans the use or distribution of marijuana.

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