Medical pot dispensaries close on County deadline

FRESNO, Calif.

Dispensary owners are closing because they don't want to be sued by the county or have the feds after them.

Action News went to four dispensaries in the county, two in an industrial area south of the Fresno city limits, and one in Tarpey Village. Those three said they will be closed Thursday.

A dispensary in Friant told Action News it will close, but fight to reopen.

"It's interesting by not surprising," said Brenda Linder. She is the attorney representing Healing Health Center and several other dispensaries which have already shut down. She said her clients received a letter from the county attorney warning they will be sued if they don't close by Thursday.

"Most of my clients have, most of the dispensaries, have closed down, not because of the local ordinance, but from the federal pressure," Linder said.

Despite state law legalizing medical marijuana Fresno county authorities have been working with federal agents to ban dispensaries and shut down massive illegal grow operations in the county.

Last October, several grows and dispensaries were raided. Their operations deemed illegal.

"I think it's pretty clear that the system that we put in place in the last year or two did not work. It was just fraught with abuse," said Fresno County Supervisor Henry Perea.

Supervisor Perea initially supported dispensaries. "Our experience was that we had rampant unnecessary growing throughout the county," he said. "It created a lot of crime issues."

Now these patients say they will be forced to either travel out of town or turn to street drug dealers to get the marijuana.

Advocates said this is not the end of medical marijuana in Fresno County. But their legal fight will be tough since they won't have store-fronts to support their cause.

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