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New Medical Marijuana Clinic to Open in Castle Rock

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CASTLE ROCK – It's an empty storefront right now, but Julian and Melissa Robinson say they hope their medical marijuana clinic will become an asset for thousands of patients. And they don't think the governor's recent veto of a dispensary bill will stop their plans.

"According to what I've read and meeting with lawyers, what we have planned should be perfectly legal," Julian Robinson said Thursday from the The Healing Hand of God patient resource center at 27 Cowlitz Street West.

The clinic will allow patients to meet with a doctor and get a prescription – called a recommendation – for medical marijuana.

Julian Robinson also hoped to open a medical marijuana dispensary – which could sell marijuana to qualified patients – when a licensing bill was still before Gov. Chris Gregoire. Much of the bill was vetoed, but Robinson said he believes he can still help patients legally obtain medical marijuana by organizing grower co-ops.

He's still meeting with lawyers to ensure his plan passes muster, but Robinson wants to create a network of growers who could share any extra marijuana they produce with other patients. (By law, medical marijuana patients or a designated caretaker already can grow certain amounts of marijuana for personal use).

"We've got a large community of patients and they don't want to have to meet some stranger in an alley or drive to (other co-ops) in Olympia or Tacoma to get their medicine," said Robinson, who has used medical marijuana for five years for chronic back pain. "This will allow patients to have a say on things like screening and testing (of the plants) as well as price. ... I'm a patient advocate and I want everyone to have a say."

Robinson became a medical marijuana advocate about a year and a half ago after being arrested when sheriff's deputies found the marijuana plants he was growing in a building near his home. He had more plants than technically allowed by his state medical marijuana card, but only a third of the product allowed by law. The case was eventually dismissed. In addition, the charges triggered child custody troubles that took a year and a half to clear up.

"No one should have to go through all that alone," Robinson said. "And the other benefit of the co-op is, if they went after someone else, there would be all these members waiting to stand up in their defense."

The other Castle Rock dispensary applicant, Charles Gilbert IV of Toutle, plans to begin operating as a garden center, said Jenifer Valley of Stoney Girl Gardens. Valley is helping advise Gilbert and said she hopes the law will eventually change to allow him to dispense marijuana.

"We feel very positive about how things are shaking out even with the veto," Valley said. "We managed to get things into the conversation and we've got people talking about it. I think we'll do better next year."

For now, though, both state law and the repercussions of the veto remain in doubt.

A few lawmakers are talking about a revised medical marijuana bill during the special session, but it's unclear if rules of the abbreviated session will permit its introduction.

Castle Rock City Attorney Frank Randolph is researching the matter but said he's still "not sure," if the Robinsons' take on a creating a co-op is legal.

As for the proposed clinic, Randolph said the city will follow the law.

"We're processing the business license now ... and we are carefully going through it," Randolph said. "Bottom line, if he is asking to do something that's legal, then the answer is going to be yes. If what he's asking is illegal, the answer is no."

The Robinsons, both 36, remain outwardly confident and are taking appointments for clinic visits with Dr. Robert Billings starting May 16. They said they'll make other arrangements if they haven't secured a business license by that date.

The need is astounding, they added.

The day after their first radio ads started airing they received 27 phone calls before 1 p.m., Melissa Robinson said. (For information call 274-4757).

"I was just amazed," she said. "I expected there might be some guys in their 20s looking to get high, but it was people in their 50s and 60s with cancer and chronic back pain and multiple sclerosis... people with serious medical needs."

The couple knows that not everyone may be thrilled with their business but they believe acceptance will grow as people learn more about it.

"When (Julian) became a (medical marijuana) patient I was just as skeptical as others are," Melissa Robinson said. "But then you meet all the people that this is has helped and you see it is a medicine and a help to people. ... We want this to be a healing place."

The couple also said they're trying to be as respectful to the community as possible. Their store sign won't mention marijuana and their regular hours will be from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., so as not to be open when kids are out of school. (On clinic days there may be some extended hours).

And, they see their business as a boon to a downtown with a large number of empty storefronts.

"We could have 20 to 30 people here who would never visit Castle Rock otherwise," Julian Robinson said, "and they might fill up their gas tank or get a cup of coffee before they leave. It can help us all."

News Hawk- Jacob Ebel 420 MAGAZINE
Source: tdn.com
Author: Barbara LaBoe
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Copyright: The Daily News Online
Website: New medical marijuana clinic to open in Castle Rock
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