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Kim Cue can legally open up her medical marijuana dispensary in San Andreas now that the Calaveras County Board of Supervisors introduced an ordinance allowing them in professional office zones.
"I'm so nervous I can't talk," Cue said after the board's meeting Monday.
Cue first applied to open a dispensary in September but hit some roadblocks when the county passed and later extended a ban on such facilities saying it needed to study the issue further.
County Counsel Jim Jones looked into the legal issues while Planning Department Deputy Director Bob Sellman went to work on drafting a zoning ordinance regulating where the dispensaries could be located.
California's Proposition 215, the Compassionate Use Act, passed in 1996 allows patients to use medical marijuana with a physician's recommendation but federal law still considers marijuana an illegal substance.
A case on this very issue is before the U.S. Supreme Court and a decision is expected sometime in July.
Sheriff Dennis Downum is unhappy with the board's decision saying the situation puts law enforcement at odds.
"I guess we have to see whether the feds trump the state," Downum said.
He anticipates the federal government will be coming to Calaveras County to seize the dispensary building like it did at a Roseville dispensary last October.
Cue said she has two potential sites picked out in San Andreas. One is at Highway 49 and Mountain Ranch Road near the county Surveyor and 4-H office and the other is near Anchor Printing and Hemptation.
"Supervisor Lucy Thein had it exactly right," Downum said. "All San Andreas needs is a strip club to make it complete," since it already has a tattoo parlor, a piercing parlor and a head shop. "You don't see that happening in Murphys," he added. "People down there would probably raise hell."
"The residents and voters voted for the Compassionate Use Act," Supervisor Merita Callaway, who represents a portion of Murphys, said. "This tries to fill that commitment. … I don't know why we're even talking about it. The issue is so much bigger than little Calaveras County."
Supervisors Steve Wilensky and Tom Tryon sided with Callaway.
Wilensky said he lost his father-in-law to pancreatic cancer. "He died from starvation," he said. "He rejected this (medical marijuana) option."
The decision should be between a patient and a doctor, not government, Wilensky concluded.
Supervisor Victoria Erickson, who had a brother die of AIDS, said she couldn't find an appropriate location for the dispensaries in the county.
Supervisor Bill Claudino agreed and said Proposition 215 was not written well and dispensaries have a poor history of compliance.
Cue told supervisors she would implement numerous safety measures including hiring two security guards for in the store.
Now with the green light she will meet with Sellman and Downum to go over her security plans as called for in the new ordinance.
Formal passage of the ordinance will take place next week.
Beverly Holst of Arnold urged the board to allow the dispensary and said it's getting dangerous to get her marijuana.
"It forces me to become involved in illegal activities, which puts myself at risk," Holst said. "That's just not the kind of person I am."
Kelly Caverley of Angels Camp said it takes six hours round trip to fill her husband's prescription and three days for him to recuperate from the trip.
"I'm extremely excited," she said. "I get some of my life back."
John Wiles of Copper Cove added the dispensary would bring more tax dollars to the county.