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San Carlos Man Wants To Establish Dispensary Clinic

Plans to dispense medicinal marijuana are once again surfacing in San Mateo County, three
years after supervisors shot down a similar effort to open a cannabis club.

Salvador Garcia, a San Carlos amputee whose brother gets relief from cancer's nausea by
eating marijuana-laced cookies, is leading the charge. Garcia said he wants to open a
medicinal marijuana dispensary clinic in a warehouse in North Fair Oaks, a
yet-to-be-determined site where up to 75 pounds of marijuana would be grown for
distribution to cancer, AIDS and glaucoma patients.

Garcia's proposal to open a similar facility in 1997 led county supervisors to impose an
emergency moratorium. The lawmakers said they needed time to research legal and
land-use issues.

``I don't know what to say other than, `I'm back,' '' said Garcia, a member of the San
Francisco Cannabis Coalition. ``Plenty enough time has passed for them to have done their
studies. It's a non-controversial issue now, and I don't think they're going to want to be
troubled or headached with running it themselves.''

Garcia's request is headed to the county counsel's office for review.

Garcia said his club would be the only one of its kind in the region. Clients would have to
present a doctor's letter stating that no other conventional medicine has worked.

Should the plan move forward, all indicators are that neighborhood and legal battles loom.

In recent months, North Fair Oaks residents have been quick to oppose social service uses
of their tiny retail strip. Neighbors fought a recent plan to bring a methadone clinic to the
area. .

Would a pot club be well received? ``Following the methadone clinic, probably not,'' said
Dale Miller, chair of the North Fair Oaks Community Council.

County Counsel Thomas Casey warns of other obstacles.

``If anything, the legal setting is even more complicated than it was before,'' he said,
referring to a slew of recent decisions on marijuana distribution. ``Before it was sort of a
blank slate. Now you have to factor in what the courts are saying.''

In 1996, California voters approved Proposition 215, which allows seriously ill people with
doctor's prescriptions to ease their symptoms with marijuana. But the law puts such patients
in a bind -- while it's OK to use marijuana once they have it, it's still illegal to purchase
marijuana on the streets.

As a result, Bay Area cities have spent years in a dizzying series of court battles and
community protests. Marijuana dispensaries in San Jose, Oakland and San Francisco have
opened and later been shut down by police.

Meanwhile, voter initiatives fuel the legal issues. In November, Mendocino residents will
vote on a ballot measure that would allow adults to grow up to 25 marijuana plants apiece
for personal use.

San Mateo County supervisors have delayed the dicey issue of doling out marijuana,
choosing instead to study whether it really works as a pain-killer and nausea-reliever.

Supervisor Mike Nevin, a former police detective, has prompted the county to establish a
community-based medicinal marijuana study through its public health department. If proved
effective, Nevin and local public health officials vow to open the nation's first
government-run medicinal-marijuana dispensary. The clinical trials are awaiting final
approval from the state and federal Drug Enforcement Agency.

Dennis Mitrzyk, a Palo Alto musician who smokes marijuana to relieve back pain, said local
people can easily provide the answers to whether the drug works. And he supports the idea
of a dispensary clinic -- if patients can be protected.

``It's a great idea, but I guess my question would be, since the federal government continues
to harangue and harass the cannabis dispensaries that are open,'' he said, ``I would want to
make sure that the federal government wouldn't come and swoop in and bust this

MAP posted-by: Derek
Newshawk: M & M Family
Pubdate: Wed, 11 Oct 2000
Source: San Jose Mercury News (CA)
Copyright: 2000 San Jose Mercury News
Contact: letters@sjmercury.com
Address: 750 Ridder Park Drive, San Jose, CA 95190
Fax: (408) 271-3792
Website: The Mercury News - Bay Area news, sports, business, entertainment, lifestyle and commentary
Author: Karen De Sa, Mercury News