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US - Marijuana Dispensary Maintains Low Profile


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A medical marijuana dispensary has thrived for several months in downtown Concord with few apparent ripples in the surrounding neighborhood, even as authorities seek ways to regulate it.

The opening of MariCare in January was a "lifesaver," said Bonnie Holmes, who has used marijuana for a year to fight nausea from the medication she takes for her back.

"The marijuana gives me an appetite so I don't lose too much weight," said Holmes, 35, of Discovery Bay, who suffers from what she described as "collapsing rods" after unsuccessful back surgery in 2002. Before MariCare opened, "I would travel to San Francisco and Oakland."

MariCare serves about 600 patients, said owner Demetrio, who declined to give his last name.

City officials have known about MariCare for some time, even though it lacks a business license. Police heard about the dispensary from contacts in the community about two months ago, said Lt. David Chilimidos. Planning Manager Deborah Raines said she learned of it from someone on the city staff.

Chilimidos said the dispensary generated no emergency calls for service during any of his four weekly shifts as operations commander. Raines also said she had not heard of any complaints.

Although the city ordinarily does not permit operation of any business not covered in its code, state law issues make the city's situation delicate, Raines said.

State voters in 1996 approved possession and cultivation of marijuana for medical use on a doctor's recommendation. The following year, Concord imposed a 12-month moratorium on dispensaries to gain time to craft an ordinance after someone inquired about locating one in the city.

"Then it sort of lapsed," Raines said. No ordinance emerged from the moratorium, which expired in July 1998. "I don't know why we didn't follow up."

She said the city attorney's office is working on a legal strategy.

City Attorney Craig Labadie and his staff were out of the office Thursday and Friday.

Concord is among a slew of California cities caught in a regulatory void with zoning ordinances that do not mention marijuana dispensaries. This week, the Albany and Pinole City Councils imposed moratoriums.

MariCare's patients suffer a gamut of ailments including cancer, multiple sclerosis, depression and severe pain, Demetrio said. He went into the business in part, he said, because he witnessed his late sister in agony for years after a botched operation on her esophagus.

He sells sativa and indica varieties of marijuana, as well as hybrids and mixes for smoking. He also sells "edibles" such as marijuana cookies and candy bars, and hashish.

He said he checks customers' identifications and they must have a letter from their doctor recommending marijuana. He said he calls the doctors to double-check.

He declined to say how many customers he sees daily.

Holmes said she drops by once a month. Another customer, Dru Gann, 27, of Concord, comes to MariCare three times a week.

"It takes me 15 minutes to walk there," Gann said. "Better than 45 minutes on BART and $6" to get to Oakland, San Leandro or San Francisco.

Gann, accidentally shot in the head 10 years ago, has taken marijuana for seven years because of frequent headaches and insomnia.

"The reason why I choose to go with the cannabis is I can still function," Gann said. "When I was trying to do regular medicine -- I was on Percocet -- it just lambastes you for the whole day."

Rick Barros, 50, of Martinez, said he has "dealt with many a dispensary." "This one is the cleanest," he said. "It feels safe."

He suffers from what he describes as "a myriad of physical things." He is diabetic, has hypertension, suffers from depression and has lost 80 pounds.

"I've had so many pills: Zoloft, Paxil, and nothing helped the depression, so the diabetes got really bad, out of control," Barros said. "The marijuana doesn't deal with the depression either but it helps me to eat." His main focus for using marijuana is "that I'm able to eat so I don't die from diabetes complications.

"This was something that was really needed in Contra Costa County," Barros said.

"You'd be amazed to know how many people traveled to the other side of the Bay."

Source: Contra Costa Times
Copyright: 2005 Contra Costa Times, 2004 Knight Ridder
Contact: Tom Lochner at tlochner@cctimes.com
Website: www.contracostatimes.com/mld/cctimes/living/health/11589343.htm


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Hey, Mr. Spy

Your input made the local papers! This is the guy you corrected. :allgood:


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Dude, thats way badass!!! I feel so special! :biggrin:

I read about it in the san ramon valley times on saturday i believe... but i didnt think twice about it being the same guy who wrote that last article... and I'm glad i helped make somewhat of a difference. :allgood:


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SptyOty said:
Dude, thats way badass!!! I feel so special! :biggrin:

I read about it in the san ramon valley times on saturday i believe... but i didnt think twice about it being the same guy who wrote that last article... and I'm glad i helped make somewhat of a difference. :allgood:

Mr. Spy.. how about that, huh? :allgood:
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