South Lake Tahoe's only medical marijuana dispensary once again has permission from the state to continue carrying non-smokable and other medicinal products grown and produced out-of-house.
The California Bureau of Cannabis Control on Friday afternoon issued a temporary license to Tahoe Wellness Cooperative (TWC). The move came after the bureau received a letter from the city of South Lake Tahoe on Thursday stating that TWC had local authorization to operate.
The letter followed direction from City Council on Tuesday, March 27, marking yet another development in an ongoing saga involving Tahoe Wellness Cooperative (TWC) and the city.
The co-op has been without products from licensed cannabis businesses for most of 2018 due to a licensing issue.
Initially, the California Bureau of Cannabis Control issued a temporary license to TWC at the end of 2017 as the state transitioned to a legal cannabis industry for both recreational and medicinal purposes.
TWC has been operating for over a year under a court-ordered stay. The stay stems from a lawsuit filed by TWC against the city after it denied TWC's permit renewal in 2016.
Within days of approval from the bureau, the temporary license was revoked after the bureau received a letter from South Lake Tahoe Police Chief Brian Uhler, the city's appointed bureau contact, stating, "[T]here are no dispensaries operating with a permit or license." Uhler noted that there is a "dispensary operating without a city permit and this dispensary has sued the city."
The revocation of the temporary license by the state severely restricted the products available at TWC. Under the law, state licensed businesses cannot do business with a non-licensed business.
While TWC does grow cannabis on property, it does not manufacture edibles, tinctures and oils — the very products that Bass and others say are needed by the sickest patients being served by TWC.
Speaking before council Tuesday, TWC founder Cody Bass stressed that the issue is about getting patients the medicine they need.
"Right now our patients don't have the medicine they need. Your dear friends, people that we all know, are literally burdened from the medicine they need … it's a very simple thing."
Council appeared to agree with that rationale.
"I know that there are sick people in our community that need access to medicine and I'm trying to make that happen now, not later," said Council Member Brooke Laine, who made the motion directing the city attorney to send the letter to the Bureau of Cannabis Control.
Mayor Wendy David echoed Laine's sentiments.
"For me this really isn't about you," she said to Bass. "This is about … these medical patients that I see no other avenue today to make sure they get the medicine they need. So we're taking a chance on you, we're taking a chance on what you've told us here tonight."
News Editor Claire Cudahy contributed to this report.