Cannabis Clubs, an Alternative to Dispensaries

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Jun 21, 2007
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Medical marijuana dispensaries may be on hold here in Arizona, but there is still a business that's providing pot to patients in need.

It's called a cannabis club, and one of them opened Friday in north Phoenix.

This club is like a marijuana co-op. Individual growers pool their pot and then distribute it to qualified patients, and those patients are asked to make donations.

The man who runs the club says it's perfectly legal.

It's called the 2811 Club, named after the section of state law that allows the transfer of medical marijuana between qualified patients.

"Here the patients and the caregivers are growing their own, and it's being transferred to patients who don't have that ability," says Allan Sobol.

Allan Sobol runs this private club. Only those with a medical marijuana card can join.

Members are asked to make donations because no one is allowed to sell their pot. All that money goes back to the growers.

"Every member that comes in here will leave with an eighth of an ounce of some very high quality medical marijuana. Our club actually donates the money to them to help them cover the cost of growing it," says Sobol.

While it's legal for qualified patients to grow marijuana, there are no dispensaries in Arizona.

The state health department is not allowing them, worried about breaking federal law.

"So that would pretty much leave this as the only viable option for patients to come and obtain their medical marijuana in a safe dignified and legal way."

The governor and attorney general have filed a lawsuit, asking a judge to decide if marijuana dispensaries can legally open, despite the apparent conflict with federal law.

In a statement the governor said: "Serious questions remain. Might state licensed medical marijuana dispensaries be targeted for federal prosecution? Are state employees at risk if they license dispensaries according to state law?"

A new memo from the Department Of Justice says anyone who "knowingly facilitates" commercial cultivation of marijuana is not immune from prosecution, even if they are complying with state laws.

As for these donation-based cannabis clubs like the one that opened today, Phoenix Police say they're looking into whether they're legal.


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