SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ A sheriff reluctantly shut down San Francisco's largest medical marijuana club Monday, as organizers waited in the wings to reopen under another name.

San Francisco Sheriff Mike Hennessey served Cannabis Cultivators Club founder Dennis Peron with an order closing down the operation and ordered the building vacated. Peron and his followers cooperated peacefully.

Hennessey made it clear he opposed the court order initiated by state Attorney General Dan Lungren, whom Peron is opposing in a David vs. Goliath campaign in the Republican gubernatorial primary.

``I support the medicinal marijuana law in the state of California, and it does seem this is an attempt to thwart that law,'' Hennessey said.

The sheriff also said he would not move against the club's successor agency, the Cannabis Healing Center, which was opening under a new director at the same site. ``That has nothing to do with this court order,'' he said.

Peron started the club four years ago and was a prime mover behind the successful 1996 drive for the state's medicinal marijuana law, which allows the sale of marijuana to patients for medical use. Monday, he emerged from the club with his belongings _ including a pot plant _ packed in a cardboard box.

``It's been an honor to lead you into a more loving and compassionate society, and it's very sad for me to have this moment in my life,'' Peron said to the shouts of ``Peron! Peron!'' from 75 supporters.

The court order to close down the club was based on pot sales to caregivers, rather than to patients. Peron, who has sold pot to caregivers, called the issue a technicality that Lungren had seized on, but took responsibility for the error.