Peron versus the President

Clinton sues the clubs
In January, the Clinton Administration filed suit to close several California cannabis clubs. The move came just days after a California appeals court overturned a previous 1996 decision, which had prevented Attorney General Dan Lungren from closing the San Francisco Cannabis Buyers’ Club, now called the “Cultivators’ Club” (SFCCC).

Other California medical marijuana dispensaries, whether named in the federal suit or not, are responding to the perceived increased risk: Some promise to continue operating in the open, some are exploring new methods, and some will go back underground.

SFCCC founder Dennis Peron vows to continue supplying marijuana to patients from his storefront club until the feds haul him away. While refusing to back down from the federal suit, Peron has found a new way to promote marijuana reform: registering as a Republican and running for the office of Governor, against his arch-enemy, Dan Lungren.

From clubs to basements

Other clubs are less combative, but no less determined. “We started as an underground delivery service,” said Jeff Jones of the Oakland club. “We can always go back to that.”

The Santa Cruz-based Women’s Alliance of Medical Marijuana will expand emotional and medical support services and offer to lease patients space to cultivate their own marijuana, according to Valerie Corral.

Attorney Daniel Abrahamson of the Lindesmith Center sees the irony of a situation, which “turns the medical marijuana movement from something run by well-organized and tightly run clubs ? with the support of local officials ? to back yards, basements and streets.”

Rearing fascism

Most legislators are noticeably silent on the issue, but California Senator John Vasconcellos, who has been sponsoring legislation to assure implementation of California’s beleaguered medical marijuana law since soon after its passage, reacted strongly to the federal threat.

“It seems to me that fascism is rearing its ugly head,” said Vasconcellos, who also suggested that President Clinton might do a better job if he had inhaled.