Growing Number of Medical Marijuana Clinics in Fresno

July 31, 2009 9:46:06 PM PDT
What may be medicine to some is considered illegal in the eyes of city officials. More and more medical marijuana dispensaries and collectives are opening in Fresno despite looming legal troubles.Action News has confirmed at least four medical marijuana dispensaries and collectives are now operating in the city's limits. Those establishments are located across the city from Tower District to Northwest Fresno.

This lobby is designed to look like any other office space, but EarthSource is one of Fresno's newest medical marijuana collectives opened two weeks ago. Manager Charles Erickson described how patients join, "We then take their recommendations ... verify it ... then they become a member of our collective. Collectively, we all join together to service our own needs."

Medmar is the first medical marijuana dispensary operating in the City of Fresno. The establishment opened in December just outside of the Tower District. Today, it remains open despite the City of Fresno threatening to shut it down.

Since those threats, Action News found more dispensaries that opened their doors. Deputy City Attorney Chalotte Konczal called the clinics illegal because they don't comply with federal law which forbids possessing marijuana under any circumstances. Konczal said, "What does a government entity do, when it is between the place of ...if we allow this use, then we may be in violation for allowing it."

Defense Attorney Jeff Hammerschmidt said even though medical marijuana is legal under California law people like Erickson face arrest. Hammerschmidt said, "From a legal stand point, the feds don't take into account that you're license by the state. From a practical stand point, the Obama administration is not currently prosecuting medical marijuana dispensaries."

Erickson said, "There's lots of patients to help. It's a viable business for our community. Those of us out there doing it the correct way will survive."

But city leaders plan to take this fight to uncharted legal territory by filing an injunction to stop marijuana dispensaries and collectives.

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