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More MS news articles for May 2004

Pot biz scouting in Yuba

May 1, 2004
Harold Kruger

A man who runs a medical marijuana cooperative in Roseville says he wants to open one in Yuba County.

Richard Marino appeared briefly before county supervisors Tuesday night, telling them "we have tons of people with (multiple sclerosis) and cancer patients."

Marino had arrived after the usual time the board takes comments from the public.

He stood up near the end of their meeting to address them.

"The board has taken the position that until the federal government accepts this as a doable program, we're not going to allow it in Yuba County," said Supervisor Bill Simmons. "It's not that we're not compassionate."

He said the board would like to hear from Marino next week.

Sheriff Virginia Black, contacted at her home after the meeting, said, "I'm not excited about the prospect of the board approving such a thing."

District Attorney Pat McGrath said Marino "might have some difficulty doing that."

Opening a marijuana co-op involves land use issues, plus what McGrath called "problems as far as the federal law."

In 1996, California voters approved the Compassionate Use Act (Proposition 215), allowing individuals with chronic medical conditions and their caregivers to cultivate, possess and use marijuana with the recommendation of their physician.

State law conflicts with federal law that makes cultivation, possession and use of marijuana a crime.

Last year, SB 420 became law. It established a voluntary program for the issuance of identification cards to patients qualified to use medical marijuana and made numerous legal definitions, clarifications and statutory changes necessary to implement and enforce a system providing medical marijuana to chronically ill patients.

A number of cities have adopted rules allowing medical marijuana dispensaries. Last month, the Citrus Heights City Council approved an ordinance to regulate up to two medical marijuana dispensaries in the city.

"We'll have to listen to what the gentleman has to say and look at what (Proposition) 215 allows," McGrath said. "If something is allowed under 215, it's back on the county or the city how they allow commercial use of their land."

Marino said the Capitol Compassionate Care Co-op opened in January in Roseville.

"We haven't had any problems whatsoever," he said. "We're working with the Police Department, and we're finding it's keeping it off the streets so it's not being sold to minors. It's only being sold to people with medical conditions."

He said he's been scouting possible locations in Yuba County.

"I was just wondering if it was OK with the supervisors, and they would give me their blessing to be able to do this and that I would work directly with them and the Police Department to set up a safe facility where people can come to pick up medical marijuana and get it off the streets," he said.

Marino said he won't open in Yuba County if he can't receive those approvals.

"I don't want any problems," he said. "I want everyone to know what's going on and be aware of it ... I don't want to come in and open a business and have the police closing it down. I'm going to be a grandfather in a few days, and I have no desire to go to jail."

Marino said he hasn't contacted Sutter County or Yuba City officials.

"I haven't gotten there yet," he said.

Marino's appearance before the supervisors was the fourth time in seven years that someone has raised the issue of a medical marijuana dispensary in Yuba County. The other instances were in April 2003, January 2000 and October 1997.

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