California passed laws in the last few years allowing for what is called medicinal marijuana for people with terminal illnesses and or conditions that bring constant pain like Multiple Sclerosis, Crohns disease, Fibromyalgia, and leukemia. These people have gotten the medical prescription from a licensed medical facility and have complete medical documentation of their need of this medication. They are not subsidised by Medicare or HMO coverage in the purchase of this medication.
Things were seemingly going fine with the medicinal marijuana laws when suddenly this month the federal govenrnment has sworn out affadavits and warrants not for the legal prescription holders but for the owners of the medicinal marijuana distribution centers. Also for the managers and employees saying that they are violating federal laws pertaining to the transport and posession of marijuana for sale. They are revoking their business licenses and shutting down their businesses. Jailing the owners because they are not prescription holders and because they are selling marijuana.
The following is an article taken from the local newspaper in the Coachella Valley
As reported on thedesertsun.com, Stacy Hochanadel, owner of the CannaHelp dispensary in Palm Desert, and James Campbell and John Bednar, managers at the dispensary, have been charged with three felony counts each on suspicion of possession, sale and transportation of marijuana and “keeping a place to sell controlled substances.”
The three turned themselves in Monday at the Riverside County Jail in Indio, where their bails were set at $50,000 each.
They are scheduled to appear in court this morning.
Under California state law, medical use of marijuana is allowed for patients with a doctor’s letter of recommendation but the drug cannot be sold for profit.
Federal law bans all use, cultivation or sale of the drug.
Hochanadel’s wife, Shana, said in a phone interview the family’s income is “nothing near” the amounts claimed. She and Hochanadel have three daughters.
“It’s not true because I am the one who he gives the money to so I can pay our bills,” Shana Hochanadel said in a phone interview Monday. “We’re living in a rundown home and if we had all this money our bills would be paid and our house would be fixed.”
The dispensary at 73-350 El Paseo remains open, staffed by employees and volunteers.
The warrant for Hochanadel’s arrest details the findings of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department investigation of CannaHelp’s business operations and profits following a search and seizure raid on Dec. 1.
The warrant signed by sheriff’s Investigator Robert Garcia claims:
Hochanadel said the business, which operates with a city-issued business license, grossed about $1.6 million in its first year of operation, from October 2005 to October 2006. Expected profits for 2006 are $1.7 million.
The business grosses about $40,000 a week, half of which goes toward expenses, including buying medical marijuana, paying employees and paying taxes. The remaining $20,000 is split between Hochanadel, Campbell and Bednar, with Hochanadel getting half and the two mangers getting 25 percent a piece.
Records for the week of Nov. 3-9 show Hochanadel received more than $10,000 in pay, while Campbell and Bednar received more than $5,000 each. All staff members are paid in cash.
Hochanadel said he puts $8,000 a week back into the business to keep prices low for patients, but the available records do not show this.
Employees at the dispensary said they are paid $350 to $400 a week.
The dispensary purchases marijuana from patients and vendors, and sells it at a markup of 20 to 90 percent.
I fail to believe that the federal government has an interest in seeing sick people suffering with out their medicine. Because the prescribed users are now protected by the laws that have been put in place they are weaseling their way around the law by federally prosecuting dispensaries that are acting in the capacity as pharmacists to these ill and terminal patients who rely on them for this medication. Why if it is legal for the prescribed recipients to possess and use is it not legal to provide an avenue for them to continue receiving their prescribed medicine instead of forcing them out into the streets to purchase their medication illegally and put them in danger of being arrested themselves. I don’t think this is what California voters intended.