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Laywers Say Marijuana Club Illegal

April 22, 1998

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ No matter what the name, the San Francisco marijuana club is still illegal in the eyes of state prosecutors.

The Cannabis Healing Center replaced the Cannabis Cultivators Club on Tuesday, a day after the old club was shut down under a court order. The new center has the same address and most of the same personnel.

``You can change the name on the door, but it’s still an illegal drug house,″ said Rob Stutzman, a spokesman for Attorney General Dan Lungren.

He said the passage of Proposition 215, the state medical marijuana law, did not allow an operation like the Cannabis Healing Center.

``There’s nothing they can do to (legally) operate as a distribution center,″ Stutzman said. ``Proposition 215 only allows primary care givers to supply the marijuana.″

About 40 patients and supporters cheered as Wayne Justmann, head of security for the new center, unlocked the front door.

First in line was Gilbert Abeyga, who said he couldn’t understand why Lungren had pursued the court order.

``I’m in pain, and it helps a lot. It keeps me going,″ said Abeyga, adding he used marijuana to fight AIDS symptoms. ``If it wasn’t for this I’d be skinny and dying by now.″

Replacing the former director and club founder Dennis Peron, who is running against Lungren in the Republican gubernatorial primary, was Hazel Rodgers, who celebrated her 79th birthday Monday as sheriff’s deputies locked the club’s doors.

Rodgers said she believed legal attacks on the center would continue. ``There’s too much opposition,″ she said.

The attorney general contends that Proposition 215 allows only primary care givers to supply marijuana.

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