If the county ordinance takes effect, every /*medical marijuana collective*/ in the county will look like the former home of /*Buds for Life*/ -- shut down. Collective leaders call it a "de facto ban" and they've come together to get it overturned.
It's not easy to gain access to the /*Mind, Body, and Soul collective*/ in this Malaga industrial complex. Employees lock the door behind every patient who walks in, and they try to maintain a good relationship with the neighbors.
"The other businesses in the same building, they all know us by name," said collective leader Shannon Luce. "They love us there. It gets more people to their businesses."
But Fresno County supervisors have essentially voted them out of business by March 1st. The new county ordinance restricts collectives to the point that they will all have to close. It also makes it extremely difficult for patients to grow their own medical marijuana.
"I'm not allowed to grow even one plant in my own home or in my backyard and this is just totally in conflict with state law," said attorney Brenda Linder.
But now, medical marijuana advocates are hoping to give supervisors a taste of their own medicine. They've launched a political action committee and a petition drive that could force a special election on a new ordinance -- one they're drawing up themselves.
"I'm sure it won't be palatable to all the board members, but it will protect patient rights and it will provide safe, affordable access as the state law directs," Linder said.
The medical marijuana community's ordinance would restrict the locations where collectives can operate. It would also address security at collectives to protect the patients and the neighbors. But Supervisor Henry Perea says their ordinance is not likely to become a reality.
"I think there's an image now of this issue and I think if they want to put this before the voters of Fresno County, they may be surprised what the results will be.
Perea says the county is trying to work with collectives to see if a different, less restrictive law would work.
Meanwhile, the collective leaders are planning to also file a lawsuit, looking for a temporary restraining order that would keep the county ordinance from ever going into affect.