Take 5 minutes out FOR YOUR HEALTH...

This morning at about 7:15, P.S.T., an interview was broadcast on Bay TV (local cable channel 35 in San Francisco) between anchor Susan Blake and Dennis Peron, republican candidate for Governor of California AND founder and operator of the San Francisco Cannabis Cultivators Club.  The following transcription was created by scott richie for Winky.

[Previously recorded voice -over - scenes of cannabis club activity]
Dennis Peron:   They can put me in prison and they can put me in jail, but I'm never gonna give up this battle.  It's not really about marijuana, it's about compassion, and I want America to stand for that, so I'm not gonna give up.

[today's interview starts]

Susan Blake:  And he probably never will.  Dennis Peron is fighting to keep the Cannabis Cultivators Club alive. But last week the state supreme court upheld a decision to close all medical marijuana clubs.  How does this affect the club in San Francisco?   Well, the man who founded it, may have an answer.  Please welcome this morning,
Dennis Peron.  Hi Dennis.

Dennis Peron:  Good Morning, Susan.

Susan Blake:  So what is the status of the club?  Are you open?

Dennis Peron:  We're very open.  Yesterday we had about 500 people there.  Came in; bought marijuana.  Essentially that court decision said marijuana sales are illegal.  So we stopped selling marijuana there.  What we are doing now is being reimbursed for the marijuana that we cultivate according to that decision.

Susan Blake:  So you're trying to operate within the guidelines of what you think is the interpretation of the law.

Dennis Peron:  Exactly.  Exactly.

Susan Blake:  Part of the controversy in all of this is the definition of what a primary caregiver is, right?

Dennis Peron:  Right.  It's very clear in the initiative who is a primary caregiver.  Anybody that you assign as your primary caregiver for housing, health or safety.  People have assigned me for health and safety.  Health, to get the marijuana; and safety, because if they didn't have me, they'd have to be out on the street, buying marijuana, risking arrest, risking rip-off.  Judge Garcia doesn't agree exactly with Dan Lungren's assessment of the opinion and he's going to allow us to stay open.

Susan Blake:  Explain for those who don't know, people who come into the club actually need some sort of a note or prescription from a doctor.

Dennis Peron:  That's right.  You need a letter of diagnosis from your doctor, then we check with your doctor to see if the doctor recommends or approves of your use of marijuana, and if he does you're allowed to go up the stairs to the third floor, buy marijuana brownies, or marijuana in smokable form.  It comes packaged in boxes and bags.

Susan Blake:  Let me ask you this, because I had heard complaints and then I was in the club last summer to do a story on how this all affects the workplace and laws and that sort of thing, and I had heard complaints that not everybody who is in there smoking or buying really has the doctors note to be able to buy or to smoke.  And I looked around; now I don't want to offend anyone, and there were obviously some people who really, it appeared that they needed the medical marijuana.  Others to me, it seemed to me like it was just a pot club to sit around and smoke.

Dennis Peron:  Well, you know you can look at people, I've looked at people, I've seen people sit next to me with 5 T-Cells.  They look fine, but they have this virus eating away at their body.  Essentially that's what we've got is a bunch of people looking at people saying you don't look sick enough, therefore, you should not be smoking pot, or, if you are smoking pot you should go to jail.  That's essentially what they're saying:  you don't look sick enough, but, in fact, I know people who have 5 T - Cells look just like you and me, but in fact they have this virus eating away at their body, and could die.  So, these people - everybody who goes in there has a letter of diagnosis.  I mean, if we stopped somebody, and say, "Oh, you look healthy, what do you have?" , you would inevitably find out they have something; and it may not be obvious to us, but it's obvious to them and it's obvious to their doctor.

Susan Blake:  And I did notice the procedures that you went through for people to come in and get their card, and to have the doctors prescriptions as well.

Dennis Peron:  You can't just walk in off the street.  Some people think, "Oh, I've got a headache; I'm gonna go to the Cannabis Club.That can't happen.

Susan Blake:  It doesn't work that way?

Dennis Peron:  No.

Susan Blake:  You've now jumped into the race for governor.  Is it primarily over this issue of marijuana and doesn't it really have maybe more to do with Dan Lungren?

Dennis Peron:  Well, no.  I see marijuana as a metaphor for a lot of things that were wrong in our society.  It's a wrong turn we took 25 years ago, deciding to incarcerate people instead of helping them.  I see it as a metaphor- Dan Lungren- you know, I have no animosity to him, he did what he had to do, and he is a true believer.  At the same time, so am I.  And I am a Republican. I am a liberal Republican.  I believe in small government.  Dan Lungren says he believes in small government, but yet is feeding all these bureaucracies.  I'm in it for good...I'm in it for real.

Susan Blake:  I know that your hope is that prop 215 will continue to be law in California and that you will be able to stay open.  Where do you see, though, this issue being in, say, another decade?

Dennis Peron:  I see marijuana legalized in another decade.  I mean there are too many reasons to legalize it. Not that marijuana is so great, but the laws against it are so bad, and dividing our nation so much.  And it's making us put an inordinate amount of energy into penalizing people instead of helping people.  I see a decade from now that marijuana will have been legalized.  It should have been legalized 25 years ago when the Shafer commission came back, Nixon's own people.  Legalize it, and then let's get on to the real problems of society, like homelessness, hunger, despair.  Let's give America some meaning.

Susan Blake:  O.K.  Dennis Peron, thanks to you: founder of the Cannabis Cultivators Club, the author of prop 215 and now candidate for governor.  Best of luck to you.

Dennis Peron:  Thank you, Sue.

Susan Blake:  Thanks, Dennis.

[end of transcript]

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