January 13, 1997 in Nation/World

Court Lets Pot Club Get Rolling Again

New York Times
 

After a judge ruled that the embattled Cannabis Buyers’ Club of San Francisco could reopen for business, Dennis Peron, the club’s founder and the state’s most vocal marijuana advocate, sucked in his fill of pungent smoke from a glowing pipe and smiled.

“I’m gloating,” said Peron, surrounded by a half-dozen or so supporters smoking similarly stoked pipes. “Isn’t democracy great?”

On Wednesday, Judge David Garcia of San Francisco Superior Court ruled that the club, the nation’s largest distributor of marijuana for medical use, could provide the drug to its members under provisions of Proposition 215, the recently passed California voter initiative that legalized the cultivation and use of marijuana to ease the symptoms of serious illnesses.

The club has been closed since a raid last August by state drug agents, prompted by complaints that healthy and underage patrons were buying marijuana.

Six of the club’s organizers, including Peron, were charged with conspiracy and possession and sale of marijuana.

In his decision, Garcia said Proposition 215 forced him to let the club resume operations.

“I don’t think you or I are going to say that the people of California were totally ineffectual in trying to pass a medical marijuana law,” Garcia told a packed courtroom.

He reiterated that the club was not to operate at a profit and that members’ medical conditions must be verified by their doctors.

State law-enforcement officials stressed that the ruling had no effect on the prosecution of Peron and his co-defendants and suggested that the ruling would be appealed.


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