‘Gray’ market in medical marijuana criticized by SLO County civil grand jury

Civil grand jury says county has done little to regulate rise in mobile dispensaries

bcuddy@thetribunenews.comJuly 1, 2012 

San Luis Obispo County has effectively stopped “brick and mortar” medical marijuana dispensaries from operating locally, but it has done little to regulate the mobile services that sprang up to deliver the medication to suffering patients, according to a civil grand jury report.

The “unknown number” of mobile delivery services has “created a ‘gray’ market the local government is ignoring,” according to the report. Grand jurors said one informant told them the number may be as high as 40.

What little regulation exists is “subjective and inconsistent,” the San Luis Obispo County civil grand jury wrote in the report released last week.

Because nobody can guarantee the safety of the delivered product, the well-being of patients who receive this medication is at risk, the grand jury wrote.

It recommended “well-defined and governmental regulation and oversight” to get a handle on the problem, beginning with a committee that would create a “fair and viable local ordinance for brick-and-mortar medical marijuana collectives.”

Grand jury recommendations are not binding.

In their report, grand jurors stressed that they are not “advocating the use of marijuana in any form.”

The grand jury made note of the conflict between state and federal law regarding medical marijuana, and the confusion that has resulted and trickled down to the local level.

In San Luis Obispo County, jurors noted, there is an ordinance approved in 2007 that would in theory allow a medical marijuana dispensary to open and serve patients.

But applicants have tried three times to open such a business in the past five years, and each time they have been shot down as a result of neighborhood opposition.

While those clinics have not opened, hundreds of people in the county are suffering and are legally entitled to use medical marijuana as a treatment.

Those folks have increasingly turned to the delivery services.

The grand jury’s report essentially brings into the county a plea that has been made at the state level by the Attorney General’s Office — the need to bring “certainty and consistency” to law enforcement, the collectives, and patients.

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