|Mother Earth Healing Co-operative co-founder Bob Riedel: “The loss of this facility today is a real tragedy for those patients who turned to us to help relieve the pain and suffering associated with treatments for life threatening cancers and other conditions”|
Thousands of medical marijuana patients lose access to medical marijuana as U.S. Attorney forces eviction of San Diego County’s only licensed dispensary, Mother Earth Alternative Healing Coop, Inc.
The only licensed medical marijuana dispensary in San Diego County, California — Mother Earth Alternative Healing Coop, Inc. — was forced to close its doors and cease operations Tuesday a a result of the U.S. Attorney’s office pressure to force its eviction.
The El Cajon facility said it had served thousands of medical marijuana patients since it opened in July 2011, and had complied with all state and local laws, even the very restrictive policies adopted by San Diego County. It was cited as a model operation and was lauded by many as completely fulfilling the intent of California voters who approved Proposition 215, the Compassionate Use Act of 1996.
“The loss of this facility today is a real tragedy for those patients who turned to us to help relieve the pain and suffering associated with treatments for life threatening cancers and other conditions,” said Bob Riedel of Mother Earth, Inc. “This is a sad day for them and a sad day for those who believe that the federal government has overstepped its bounds in pursuing a dubious course of action to close facilities that are legal under current state law.
|Mother Earth Coop|
“It’s a travesty really to divert this amount of time, resources and energy on legal and legitimate operations, a continuation of a flawed and misguided drug policy that has failed at many levels for many years,” Riedel said.
The closure of the Mother Earth facility came about as a result of eviction actions taken by the property’s landlord in response to pressure by U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy’s office. The tactic of forcing evictions has been repeated in a number of locations.
In the meantime, there have been no attempts by the federal government to successfully overturn California state law or San Diego County ordinances which legalize medical marijuana for patients. There are approximately 70,000 such patients in San Diego County alone.
“We are leaving this operation today with a renewed determination to fight for our patients and to fight for recognition of California state law which was approved by California voters more than 15 years ago,” said Riedel. “The U.S. Attorney’s office is avoiding a direct challenge to that law for a reason.
“We believe the courts would uphold California law and we believe the U.S. Attorney fears this outcome and has decided not to directly challenge the law,” Riedel said. “That day in court is inevitable, however, and we will do all we can to force resolution of this issue as soon as possible. This action has resulted in a de facto ban on medical marijuana in San Diego.”
Mother Earth officials announced plans to pursue alternative options for the thousands of medical marijuana patients who are now left without legal means to obtain cannabis. They also released letters of support from Congressman Bob Filner and other supporters who were appealing to Governor Jerry Brown and others to take action to resolve this issue.
Options to continue operations would continue to be limited to sites and protocols that not only complied with state and local laws, but exceeded those standards as did the now closed Mother Earth Alternative Healing Coop.