It’s enough to make Green Mammoth’s Steve Klassen just a little nervous.
Green Mammoth, one of two medical marijuana dispensaries which recently opened in Mammoth Lakes, is worried that Mono County District Attorney George Booth may be looking for ways to shut him down.
Klassen’s concern was heightened recently when the District Attorney’s office interviewed Mammoth Lakes Planning Commissioner and Green Mammoth part-time employee Tony Barrett.
The D.A.’s office was apparently concerned that Barrett may have “sold” his vote in exchange for a job, a charge Barrett vehemently denies.
“What motivation would I have to sell my vote in exchange for an $11/hour job? That’s ridiculous,” said Barrett.
Klassen, who was also interviewed, said, “That’s not how it went. I’m too smart of a businessman for that.
“We are in compliance [with the law] and we want to be as transparent as possible … but the District Attorney wants to shut us down.
In my initial conversation with Mr. Booth, he said something to the effect of, ‘There is no such thing as medical marijuana,’” said Klassen.
According to Klassen, it is the D.A.’s position that any exchange of marijuana for money is considered a sale. “We classify it as reimbursement for time and expense,” said Klassen.
“My role is to act as a medium of exchange between patients and providers.”
What concerns Klassen is that Booth may try to adopt the tactics of L.A. County District Attorney Steve Cooley, who lost to Kamala Harris in his bid to become the California Attorney General this past fall.
According to www.justsaynow.com, a pro-cannabis website, Cooley “has overseen raids on dispensaries and has attempted to criminalize the sale and distribution of marijuana.”
And in his campaign for Attorney General, he openly declared his opposition to medical marijuana dispensaries in an interview with the L.A. Times.
While Booth would not comment directly at this time, Mono County Assistant District Attorney Tim Kendall told The Sheet, “We will be coming out with a position paper on the Medical Marijuana laws in the next several weeks. It will address our position on the law, dispensaries, etc.”
The Sheet interviewed Mammoth Lakes Planning Commissioners Sharon Clark and Jay Deinken to ask them how they feel in hindsight about the Commission’s decision to approve the applications of Robert Calvert and Steve Klassen to operate marijuana dispensaries.
Clark said she has visited both establishments and “they both seem to be doing what they said they would.”
Deinken, however, is somewhat concerned that the dispensaries are overstepping their “specific, limited purpose” – that of providing medical marijuana to members.
He points to Green Mammoth’s plans to operate a yoga studio on the same floor as one example.
He believes Klassen is using Green Mammoth as a platform to spread the gospel of marijuana to an “entourage of stoners.”
The Sheet toured the Green Mammoth facility this week and quickly noticed the “Donations” verbiage atop the chalkboard which listed the various strains and prices.
Sheet: Does that mean I can get marijuana even if I don’t wish to donate?
Barrett: Well, no, although exceptions are made (compassionate use) in the event a very sick patient needs medicine and does not have the ability to pay.
Barrett said the average age of Green Mammoth’s patients is between 34 and 37 years old. The youngest is 21; the oldest is 78.
The place is very clean and at first impression, has the same sterile feel as a traditional medical office.
The only thing that really gives it away as being different is the chalkboard, to wit: Medical marijuana may have a public relations issue based upon the given names of its medicines.
As Geisel observed after I listed the names of some of the strains, Green Crack, Durban Poison, Power Plant, Black Hawk and Grapefruit Diesel do not have the scientific-sounding gravitas of tetracycline and penicillin.
Thus far, Mono County Public Health Director Lynda Salcido has rejected Green Mammoth’s bid to sell marijuana edibles (so patients can ingest marijuana as a food product versus smoking it).
Salcido said the County’s position is that the marijuana ordinance requires all licenses and permits. But when the dispensaries applied, the decision was made by the County not to issue food permits to sell food products.
“Every county in the state is struggling with this,” said Salcido. “How do you know the dosage in the edibles?” She said the state has provided no guidelines in this regard and the County is not just going to make something up.
Her suggestion to Tony Barrett, who proposed leasing a commercial kitchen to make edibles, was to “go to the state and give us the chapter and verse of what we can approve. Don’t ask us to make it up.”
In response, Barrett said the dosage argument is silly. First, we know how much product goes into the edibles. Second, if a consumer is really worried about controlling dosage, you can eat any portion of a brownie, for example. No one’s requiring you to consume the whole thing at one sitting.
Any kitchen approved by the health department should be the only requirement for compliance, he said.