Just outside the Oakdale city limits, in a strip mall that has a convenience mart advertising processed food snacks and high-sugar content refreshments to travelers along Highway 120 lays another business within the same complex.
This one offers a different product; holistic herbs and medicinal marijuana.
Kiona’s Farm’acy, located at 7450 River Road for about a year, defines itself as “a holistic health center and natural food farm’acy.”
As a “holistic health practitioner,” the center operates as a co-op with over 320 herbs available for culinary, medicinal, and spiritual purposes as well as vegan, gluten free foods and other natural health products. Upon a recommendation from a licensed physician, it also provides medicinal marijuana.
“We’re a holistic center, not a cannabis club or dispensary,” said Susan Syren, the center’s manager. “Cannabis is an herb that goes within that fundamental.”
There are separate sides to the physical layout of the business with herbs, containers, and health food on one side and another for the medicinal marijuana.
“The holistic side is open to the public,” Syren said. “The other (side) is available for those with a (doctor’s) recommendation and after verification. Our cannabis operation is on the smaller scale.”
In 1996 California was the first state to authorize marijuana use for health purposes when voters approved Proposition 215. Possession for personal use was effectively decriminalized in 2010, made an infraction with a $100 fine.
More than 17 years after voters approved Proposition 215, medicinal marijuana has been a complicated and controversial subject with federal authorities insisting that the drug is still illegal under federal law with or without a prescription and regardless of the reason for its usage.
Medical marijuana advocates have lobbied unsuccessfully for a statewide regulatory system they hoped would make the industry less susceptible to federal raids and arrests.
“We practice within our license,” said Syren, who said there have been no law enforcement contacts or concerns about the business’s operation or its patients.
Syren stressed there is more to their business than the marijuana side. Their focus is on natural health; including naturopathy, homeopathy and the use and application of medicinal herbs, and holistic nutrition.
Syren said Dr. Lakisha Jenkins, a licensed naturopathic physician who owns the Oakdale facility and one in Tracy, is up-to-date on the latest scientific research and incorporates good eating and herb usage into the treatments, assisting some of the patients with their selections.
“It’s amazing how many people we’ve helped,” Syren said of the patients with cancer, lupus, cerebral palsy, and chronic pain that come to the establishment. “It’s astonishing to be part of this positive process to have people on the mend.”
In 2008 the Oakdale City Council banned medicinal marijuana businesses within the city limits.
The California Supreme Court ruled last year that cities are allowed to determine whether or not they can regulate or restrict medicinal marijuana dispensaries within the city limits.
Kiona’s Farm’acy falls outside of the city. However, according to weedmap.com, California West Medical Supply has medicinal marijuana available through an unspecified address on Jubal Court within the city.
When contacted, city officials stated they were unaware of either medicinal marijuana outlet.
Colorado and the State of Washington allow legal recreational marijuana. Twenty other states as well as the District of Columbia allow medical marijuana, and at least 14 more are considering some form of legislation.