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Fighting For Medical Marijuana At County’s Only Licensed Dispensary

Video by Katie Euphrat

Supporters of San Diego County’s only licensed medical marijuana dispensary hope a federal court will help them fight eviction. The Mother Earth Alternative Healing Cooperative serves 70,000 patients, but will have to vacate its home near Gillespe Field tomorrow. The cooperative wants to stay in business while they launch a legal fight for their future. (Video by Katie Euphrat)

— The Mother Earth Alternative Healing Cooperative serves 70,000 patients, but will have to vacate its home near Gillespe Field if an eviction order stands. The cooperative wants to stay in business while they launch a legal fight for their future.

Bob Bergstrom is a Navy veteran who lives with muscular dystrophy. The muscle-crippling disease is painful, and "Uncle Bob," as he calls himself, gets relief from medical marijuana. He's a patient and a volunteer at East County's only licensed medical marijuana dispensary.

"And these guys let me hang out there, check people in and actually work, do something with my life. And all that's going to go away again. What are we suppose to do," said Bergstrom.

Attorneys for Mother Earth want the courts to step in and stop the eviction. That would allow them to keep operating while they challenge their right to operate in San Diego County.

"If Mother Earth is forced to close down pending appeal, there will be no Mother Earth," said Lance Rogers, an attorney representing the dispensary. "So the stay is really what makes or breaks the legal fight because Mother Earth will not be around for the year or two years it takes to fight the appeal."

Rogers said the court should act quickly, because eviction is imminent. But not everyone wants the business to stay open. Opponents argue state law doesn't permit people to sell marijuana for money. They said there is no mention of cooperatives or collectives as places in the voter-approved measure that allows for medical marijuana in California.

"And when you have a storefront dispensary, now all of a sudden you've turned it into a noun and you've broken state law," said John Redman, executive director of Californians for Drug Free Youth. "And then when a city says, oh well, and collects taxes on it, you've now sanctioned it by a government which is not what Prop. 215 said. At all. In any way shape or form."

If the request for a stay of the eviction order is rejected, Mother Earth supporters say they will appeal. There was no comment from the U.S. Attorney's office.

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