Santa Clara County Buyers' Club Closes After Police Seize Assets 5/15/98

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The Santa Clara County Medical Cannabis Center closed down on Friday after San Jose police searched their medical records and seized a $29,000 bank account. Authorities have charged the center's director, Peter Baez, with six felony counts for allegedly selling marijuana without a valid doctor's recommendation in nearly seventy cases.

Peter Baez's cousin, folk singer Joan Baez, and several patients, held a press conference to mourn the loss of the club. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that the famous folk singer claimed that the demise of the club could be attributed to an attempt by local law enforcement to "impress a certain narrow segment of society."

Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney, Denise Raabe told the San Francisco Chronicle that Baez's prosecution "isn't some governmental crackdown. Peter Baez didn't follow the rules. He violated the law."

Mike Alcalay, Medical Director for the Oakland Cannabis Buyer's Club, reviewed all the suspected cases and told The Week Online that they fall within state law. The law states that patients must have a written or oral recommendation. According to Alcalay, in many of the cases the authorities are singling out, there were written recommendations. In the remaining cases an oral recommendation is verifiable through phone records. "They are basing these charges on phone calls where the police intimidated and harassed doctors over the phone causing many to fear prosecution and therefore deny that they recommended marijuana."

Legally, the center may remain open, but with its bank account seized, the operators will be unable to pay growers or rent. Baez will appear for a preliminary hearing on the charges on June 16.

The center serves 270 clients who will no longer have a safe and easily accessible way to obtain their medicine. Some patients said they will travel to San Francisco to get their medicine legally, but for others like cancer patient Ramon Mayo that is not feasible. "I guess I have to become a criminal and get from the best place I can -- the nearest dealer," said Mayo to the San Jose Mercury News.

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Issue #42, 5/15/98 Preliminary Injunction Granted Against 6 California Buyers' Clubs: Medical Marijuana to Get its Day in Court | Kentucky Farmers Seek Federal Court Ruling on Hemp | Santa Clara County Buyers' Club Closes After Police Seize Assets | Portland MS Patient Found Guilty of Marijuana Possession, Manufacturing | Another Botched Raid in New York, Another Innocent Family Terrorized in the Name of "Our Children" | San Mateo County Votes to Study Medicinal Marijuana: Says Research Will Provide Access for Patients | Record Two Million Private Conversations Monitored by Government in 1997 | Forfeiture Victims Need Help | Medical Journal Reports AIDS Patient's Persistent Hiccups Relieved by Marijuana | Editorial: McLies
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