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MediBloom: 'Medical Marijuana Isn't Going Anywhere'

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A controversial medical marijuana dispensary in Rancho Bernardo is rebutting claims that it's harming the community, saying it is meeting most regulations and trying to be a "good neighbor."

"MediBloom is fully cooperating with law enforcement and code compliance officers to address any of their concerns," said Lance Rogers, an attorney with Lake APC which represents the dispensary and more than 200 others across Southern California.

The response from MediBloom, at 11665 Avena Pl., Suite 106, comes after some locals complained about the operation during Thursday night's RB Community Council meeting. San Diego police Officer Susan Steffen spoke about MediBloom at the meeting and said it had been found noncompliant during a city inspection on Wednesday.

The dispensary's head, Erik Rynko, disputed that during a conversation with Patch on Friday.

Rynko said there was a compliance meeting with city inspectors and police, but the dispensary was found to be following all state laws and compliance regulations. Neighborhood Code Compliance Department officials could not immediately be reached for comment. Rogers, however, acknowledged that the neither MediBloom, nor any of the firm's other dispensary clients, has a business permit.

It is illegal to operate a business without the proper permit. At Thursday's meeting, Steffen said all 166 of the city's dispensaries are operating illegally because they do not have permits. A city process is not yet in place to provide such permits based on the new zoning restrictions part of the new dispensary policy. Steffen said MediBloom and the building owner can be fined for this violation. Only one officer is assigned to deal with the dispensary issue, she said.

Roger's said all of the firm's clients–most of which are in San Diego–have tried to get business licenses but have been denied. He would not go into detail about what the findings of Wednesday's inspection at MediBloom were, citing the potential for future litigation.

Dispensary supporters have challenged the legality of San Diego's restrictions, such as prohibiting operation within 600 feet of parks, because of inconsistencies with state law.

One of the gray areas of medical marijuana law is providing service to minors. Some complained at Thursday's meetings that they've seen what appear to be teenagers coming in and out of MediBloom. Rynko said that all of MediBloom's clients are at least 18 years old and identification is checked to verify their age. Rogers said it is up to individual dispensaries' policies as to whether they will work with minors, though state law does not prohibit those under 18 from receiving prescriptions for medical marijuana.

Rynko also said just because someone looks young that does not mean they are under 18.

It's also not up to the dispensaries to decide whose condition does or does not merit treatment when they have valid prescriptions, Rogers said.

"It's analogous to going to a pharmacy and the pharmacy saying, 'I don't believe you need this medicine,' " Rogers said. "We don't ask pharmacists to do that and we also shouldn't ask medical marijuana collectives to do that either."

Safety also has been a major concern since MediBloom opened at the beginning of the month. According to police reports, on April 5, two unknown suspects kicked in the front door after hours and ransacked the dispensary. The marijuana was inaccessible in a safe and the suspects only got away with some food and candy (non-medicinal). Ten days later, two people leaving an exterior restroom at the dispensary when they were approached by two suspects. One suspect took a bag with a 750 ml bottle of Jack Daniels and sunglasses from one victim. The other suspect sprayed both victims with pepper spray, and both suspects fled.

Rynko and Rogers said they were unaware of the second incident. Rynko said the first incident–the burglary–looked to have just been some kids, and they did not get any marijuana. The dispensary has a security guard, he added.

"We're not like a lot of other [dispensaries]. No smoking on the premises. We don't sell any paraphernlia or matches here. People get their medicine and leave. We're a very nice facility as well," Rynko said.

Mid-Friday afternoon, there appeared to be a handful of patients coming and going from the collective as the movie Little Miss Sunshine played on a TV in the lobby. Nearby business owners have said there are a steady stream of young-looking people coming in and out of MediBloom throughout the day.

Rogers said he understands people's hesitation to have dispensaries in their communities, but the operations' patients and directors believe medical marijuana is lawful and mandated by the state. The Compassionate Use Act of 1996 also gives people the right to the treatment they need, he said.

"[The act] was passed 15 years ago and medical marijuana is not going anywhere.

"Medical marijuana collectives want to be good neighbors and address all of the concerns of their neighbors, of the community. I understand the use of medical marijuana is controversial, but people need to get used to it," Rogers said.

Rynko said most of the clientele is from Rancho Bernardo–though he declined to say how many patients he has–and people are happy to have something so close to home.

News Hawk- Jacob Ebel 420 MAGAZINE
Source: ranchobernardo.patch.com
Author: Shauntel Lowe
Contact: Contact Us
Copyright: Patch
Website: MediBloom: 'Medical Marijuana Isn't Going Anywhere'
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