Pot club loses lease

Monday November 11, 2002

SAN DIEGO– It wasn’t federal agents but a real estate deal that closed a medical marijuana information center here last month. 

Steve McWilliams, owner of Shelter from the Storm, said the storefront closed because he lost his lease after the building was sold. 

“We were the only one operating in the entire county,” he said. 

McWilliams had set up a pot garden and cannabis club under Proposition 215, a state law that allows use of marijuana by patients with a doctor’s recommendation. 

But federal drug agents have cracked down on California clubs after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last year held there was no medical necessity to violate federal drug laws. 

McWilliams pleaded innocent last month to federal charges of growing pot in a home garden. He faces five or more years in prison if convicted. 

Michael Barbee, a member of a city task force proposing medical marijuana guidelines, said the city will continue with a plan to issue identification cards to medical marijuana patients in San Diego. About 1,500 to 3,000 patients are expected to apply, Barbee said.