Six years after the federal government forced the Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana to close, the Fairfax dispensary is back in business.
Lynnette Shaw, the self-styled godmother of medical marijuana dispensaries in California, reopened the doors to the dispensary at 6 School St. on June 2. A ceremonial grand opening is set for Thursday.
Already, phones were ringing off the hook Monday while employees greeted members. With cheers and hugs, Shaw welcomed several familiar faces who filed in and out.
“This is my family,” she said. “These are the people that I love. I took care of them for 15 years and many of them suffered when we went away.”[related_articles location=”left” show_article_date=”false” article_type=”automatic-primary-section” curated_ids=””]Shaw opened the Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana in 1996, becoming the first medical marijuana dispensary in the state operating under the auspices of Proposition 215, California’s Compassionate Use Act. However, legal problems for Shaw came shortly after.
In 2011, the Marin Alliance was closed following a crackdown launched by Melinda Haag, the San Francisco-based U.S. attorney for the Northern District of California.
Shaw recently resolved the nearly two decades worth of litigation, which cleared the path for her to pick up where she left off. It wasn’t easy, she said.
Her car was repossessed, her house was foreclosed on and she filed for bankruptcy. For the past five years she was also barred from working in the cannabis industry, she said.
“This is my baby,” she said of the dispensary. “As every parent knows, you fight to the death for your baby.”
Reopening the business didn’t require any new approvals of the town because her use permit was still valid.
Shaw said she always followed the rules and “set a very high bar.”
Fairfax Mayor John Reed said there has been some concern from community members, mostly those who didn’t realize that the business operated in that same building for many years before.
“Historically it’s been run without any problems and I suspect that will continue,” Reed said.
“With (recreational) marijuana being legalized in the state, you don’t want to send the wrong message,” he said. “There needs to be awareness out there and we do want to protect our youth.”
He added, “She’s helped a lot of patients.”
When Shaw first obtained a permit, the town imposed more than 80 restrictions on her business. Because she had a good track record, “those restrictions had been significantly reduced,” Reed said.
Local patients are happy that the dispensary has returned. Already, 180 members have joined, Shaw said.
Kelli Andersen of San Anselmo, who uses medical marijuana to treat migraines and spinal spasms, said the community was upset when the shop was closed.
“It was closed for unfair reasons, and people do care, people do support the club here,” she said. “It’s medicine. Doctors were never able to diagnose me, and this has helped a lot.”
Fairfax resident Dianna Gibson is a caregiver for her mother, who used to get her medical marijuana at the dispensary for back problems. Now Gibson is an employee there.
“This is the medicine she needs,” Gibson said of her mother. “This gives her a lot of relief, and she’s even in the garden again. I haven’t seen her out there in years.”
Shaw said the dispensary has 30 strains of cannabis and a variety of edibles, oils, bath salts and other products. The shop will also have counseling for patients, including for military veterans who are acclimating to civilian life.
Although there will be no inhouse doctors, a station will be set up for new patients to work with online consultants through hellomd.com to receive medical cannabis recommendations.
Shaw said it’s a coincidence that Marin Alliance is reopening just after county supervisors denied 10 applications to open medical cannabis dispensaries in various locations throughout unincorporated Marin.
“We are here to help,” Shaw said. “We want to make sure we get people the treatment they need.”
The dispensary will be open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week.
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