Although last month's Supreme Court ruling against the Oakland Cannabis
Buyers Cooperative was relatively narrow in scope, the threat of more
crackdowns has driven some northern California medical marijuana providers
to scale back their operations, and at least one club has closed.

Just days after the ruling, which upheld a federal injunction against the
Oakland club's distribution of marijuana, came down May 14 the Howard
Street Harm Reduction Center closed its doors permanently. And at one of
San Francisco's most established providers of medical cannabis,
Californians Helping Alleviate Medical Problems, all but one of the
dispensary's board of directors resigned on the advice of the club's
attorney. Further, CHAMP has placed what it calls a "temporary and
indefinite" cap on new membership requests.

"We will continue to offer our services to the community," CHAMP's voice
mail greeting proclaims, "but sadly, we are unable to take new members
until further notice." Nobody at either the now-defunct HSHRC or CHAMP
would return the Bay Guardian's phone calls.

In fact, none of the major medical marijuana dispensaries in San Francisco
seemed to want to discuss the state of their operations with us. A
spokesperson at one provider, who declined to be identified, stated that
the club had been instructed by its attorneys not to speak to the media.

"It's terrible," San Francisco district attorney Terence Hallinan, who has
supported the local dispensaries, told us. "There are about 2,000 people
who could be affected by these two clubs' interruption in service, and I
don't want to see these sick patients having to go to Dolores Park or
wherever to try to get their medicine."

Hallinan said that he believes the clubs' actions have been "a bit
premature" but that he understands the gravity of their decisions and is
concerned about a domino effect.

"The ruling is absolutely having a chilling effect," he said. "Look, people
aren't very excited about facing the prospect of mandatory minimum jail
sentences here," Hallinan said.

Still, some legal observers say it's highly unlikely, with the OCBC case
still waiting to be remanded to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals 30
days after the date of the ruling (in accordance to Supreme Court
practice), that any further injunctions would come down soon, if at all.

"It's paranoia, plain and simple," the club staffer told us. "This ruling
has nothing to do with Prop. 215 or the issue of medical marijuana at
large. It's important that we, as providers, remember that."

Pubdate: Wed, 13 Jun 2001
Source: San Francisco Bay Guardian (CA)
Copyright: 2001 San Francisco Bay Guardian
Author: Steve Robles
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)
Bookmark: (Oakland Cannabis Court Case)