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Oakdale medical pot dispensary under fire from county

The Board of Supervisors has approved a lawsuit in Stanislaus County’s attempt to shut down a medical marijuana dispensary at Kiona’s Farm’acy near Oakdale. The business sells holistic products but also medical pot.
The Board of Supervisors has approved a lawsuit in Stanislaus County’s attempt to shut down a medical marijuana dispensary at Kiona’s Farm’acy near Oakdale. The business sells holistic products but also medical pot. kcarlson@modbee.com

A county lawsuit suggests a retail shop near Oakdale was not truthful when it applied for a business license in August 2012.

The county issued the license based on the application, and since then, Kiona’s Farm’acy has dispensed medical marijuana from a store at River Road and Highway 120, just north of the city of Oakdale.

Stanislaus County prohibits medical cannabis dispensaries in the unincorporated area and filed a lawsuit April 9, seeking a court order to shut down Kiona’s dispensary.

The case is expected to take months to work through the legal system.

Customers, including Wanda Hendrickson of Ripon, were visiting the center Wednesday.

Hendrickson, 68, said she had just learned about the dispensary and wanted to try cannabis for painful arthritis in her hips. “I think they should be allowed to be here, sure,” she said. “A doctor told me it is better to eat it and not to smoke it.”

Almost 20 years after Proposition 215 legalized cannabis for medicinal use in California, cannabis dispensaries are frowned on by authorities in Stanislaus County and its cities. The state’s Compassionate Use Act also conflicts with federal law.

The Board of Supervisors’ voted unanaimously Tuesday to authorize the lawsuit against Kiona’s Farm’acy. County Counsel John Doering said the county’s legal office realized it needed the board’s approval to file the lawsuit.

According to the complaint, Lakisha Katerris Jenkins wrote on the business license application that the center’s activities would be “social services/retail.” The application also stated it was “not a dispensary.”

The lawsuit charges that Kiona’s Farm’acy is operating without a valid business license.

Kiona’s calls itself a holistic health and natural food center, offering vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free foods and health products. Its website says it also has a selection of herbs, spices, essential oils, potpourri and tea blends.

The business has a second location on West Main Street in Merced.

Doering said the county only wants the Oakdale center to close its cannabis dispensary. He added that legal actions of this sort sometimes lead to negotiations with the defendants to resolve the matter.

An attorney representing Kiona’s did not return a call seeking comment.

The county lawsuit names as defendants the Kiona Foundation Inc., Jenkins and owners of the shopping center where the center is located, Floria and Farzin Firoosmand. It charges that Jenkins operated the marijuana dispensary with the approval of the River Road Plaza shopping center owners.

Kiona’s “co-op/apothecary/trading post” near Oakdale consists of a front desk, file cabinets, a table with medical cannabis information and a number of rooms. An employee said the business is a cooperative and more information about its natural food products is furnished only to members.

Clients, after checking in at the front desk, went with a staff member into a room and later emerged with their remedy in an envelope.

Modesto resident Jason David, who uses a cannabis extract to treat his son’s seizure disorder, said it’s easier to find dispensaries in the Bay Area. He said he knows that some people abuse medicinal marijuana, but asked, “Where can we get safe access here?”

David said he’s working on a project to create a dispensary with good information on dosing and effective use.

“They should have permits and regulations on how to do it the right way,” he said.

Bee staff writer Ken Carlson can be reached at kcarlson@modbee.com or (209) 578-2321.

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