Riverside’s actions to close the collective is at the California Supreme Court, but they are still going to celebrate and the public is invited
On Saturday, December 15 the Inland Empire Patients Health and Wellness Center, Riverside’s legendary medical marijuana collective, will be celebrating their third anniversary providing patients with safe, reliable and local access to medicinal marijuana. Getting to this point has been a twisted, tortured and tumultuous path that began back in the spring of 2009.
After serving for 18 months on the Palm Springs Medical Marijuana Task Force that made Palm Springs the first, and so far only city in the Inland Empire to enact zoning regulations for medical marijuana collectives, medical marijuana activist and Registered Nurse Lanny Swerdlow turned his attention to the city of Riverside.
Swerdlow’s involvement with the city of Riverside began in January 2008 when he coordinated the opening of the first doctor’s office specializing in the issuance of medical marijuana recommendations in the Inland Empire. At that time there were only a few collectives in the entire Inland Empire and none in the city of Riverside. Like he did in Palm Springs, he wanted to work with city officials to draft an ordinance regulating their operations.
After unsuccessful meetings with elected city officials and being rebuffed by Police Chief Russ Leach, City Attorney Greg Priamos and several Planning Department managers, Swerdlow realized that Riverside did not even want to talk about allowing medical marijuana collectives let alone form a task force similar to one he had served on in Palm Springs.
Fed up with Riverside’s impenetrable wall of opposition, on August 11, 2009 over 100 Inland Empire residents came before the Riverside City Council putting the city on notice that its zoning ordinance which bans medical marijuana collectives is an unconstitutional infringement on the rights of patients under Prop. 215 and SB 420.
According to an August 19, 2009 article in the Press Enterprise, “Swerdlow threw down the gauntlet last week, telling city officials he will open a facility, “and you do not have the right to prevent us from doing so.””
In December, 2009, in defiance of the city’s ban that patients considered illegal under state law, the Inland Empire Patients Health and Wellness Center (IEPHWC) opened as Riverside’s first medical marijuana collective at 647 Main St., a rather non-descript industrial-warehouse zone on the north side of the city. The city responded six months later by filing a lawsuit seeking an injunction to close the collective.
No one could have imagined at the time that this zoning disagreement between medical marijuana patients and the City of Riverside would wind up at the California Supreme Court as the pivotal case that will decide whether cities and counties in California can ban medical marijuana collectives under their zoning ordinances.
Considering the ferocity of the attacks and the expense defending against them, no one also could have imagined that the Inland Empire Patients Health and Wellness Center would still be around to celebrate their 3rd Anniversary on Saturday, December 14.
But they are!
On Saturday, December 15 at 11 a.m., the IEP Health and Wellness Center invites the general public to learn about their facility by joining in on their 3rd Anniversary celebration by attending a special presentation of Swerdlow’s ground-breaking seminar on the Health and Medical Benefits of Marijuana. After the seminar, Swerdlow will take everyone on escorted tour of the both praised and maligned IEPHWC collective including their pioneering medical marijuana farmers’ market which brings member patients and member cultivators together. After the seminar and tour, attendees can enjoy fresh off the BBQ grill, hamburgers and hot dogs with all the “fixins.”
There is no cost for the seminar or tour and the general public is encouraged to attend and learn about why marijuana is so important for the health and welfare of the community and to see how the IEPHWC complies with state law in legally distributing marijuana to qualified patients. The IEPHWC is located at 647 Main St., Riverside 92501. Additional information can be obtained by calling 951-782-8400.