By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
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He blames the disconnect on simple greed. “A lot of guys who get into this are seeing dollar signs,” he says. “They are not in it for the right reason.”
He recalls a recent conversation with McKeen in which they discussed online reviews from patient members. Among countless positive reviews for Otherside Farms was a minor quibble about a recent delivery. McKeen blew up. The Tri-County director understood his frustration.
“We work hard for good reviews and to provide quality customer service,” he says. “There are a billion forums and different websites where people just drop bombs about you.”
The Weekly found no bombs dropped on Otherside Farms in a recent online search. Out of 21 patient reviews on WeedMaps.com, 21 were raves.
“I was concerned about the quality of medicine that is available,” wrote someone described as a married mother and cancer survivor in her mid-30s, “and the Otherside folks explained, in detail, how they have complete quality control over all of their medicine as they only procure their meds from members of their collective (the way it’s supposed to be).
“But even beyond that, they go to the grow rooms and check on the operations weekly to ensure that their ‘no pesticides, no chemicals and no cartels’ guarantee is upheld, and I like that. They are compassionate, well-educated and very professional.”
“I am from the Costa Mesa area,” begins a legalmarijuanadispensary.com review from another commenter, “and I totally recommend this place for your medicine delivery! If you’re looking for a reliable and legit delivery service in SoCal, Otherside Farms, my friend, can’t go wrong! Very discreet, professional and fast!
“Oh, and lastly, I just have to mention that the guys who deliver are so knowledgeable and very, uhm, CUTE. :)”
“Simply the best medicine I’ve had,” states an Otherside Farms patient testimonial on skunkmarijuana.info. “Very fresh, great tasting, and dang does it get you high. Their edibles actually work and taste really good. They gave me quality and quantity. Great phone services and an awesome, friendly delivery service!”
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The McKeens got the keys from their landlord for the Otherside Farms space on a Friday night. By the following Monday morning, a city official was “banging on the door,” according to Chadd McKeen. He claims he had received heavy resistance while trying to work openly with the city to establish a dispensary, followed by two months of foot-dragging to secure a business license.
McKeen also claims he and his wife got pulled over by Costa Mesa police shortly after leaving work another day. He said the cop’s justification was it appeared as if their car was going to change lanes without signaling. The vehicle was searched, the couple was fingerprinted, and patient records in the car were thoroughly examined by officers, according to McKeen.
He has grown used to a police presence nearby. After months under surveillance, a dispensary called Doc’s in the same business complex as Otherside Farms was raided by police in March. Bags of marijuana were confiscated, and a man was arrested on suspicion of selling and transporting the drug.
Besides providing grower education, equipment, and help with set-up and maintenance, Otherside Farms operates a separate “private” collective that delivers member-grown cannabis to member patients who have viewed the buds on othersidefarms.com. An online mission statement claims collective operations are done in accordance with California Health & Safety codes, Prop. 215 and SB 420.
The Weekly asked the Costa Mesa police official who heads up dispensary enforcement about his department’s stand on Otherside Farms.
“Based on a pending lawsuit in Costa Mesa regarding marijuana dispensaries, it would probably be prudent for the police department at this point to refrain from any opinions or statements surrounding the issues,” said Lieutenant Mark Manley. “That omission isn’t a stance either way on Otherside Farms.”
Costa Mesa City Attorney Kimberly Hall Barlow says she has been led to believe Otherside Farms provides only patient education, adding, “If they are filling orders, they are not a cooperative.” She agreed medical-marijuana patients can collectively cultivate cannabis under state law, but Barlow maintained no provisions are made for selling or transporting the medication to member patients.
Asked how collective members too ill to grow or travel are supposed to get the marijuana, she replied, “That’s an excellent question.” After a pause, she added, “I suppose there are other ways you could particpate in cultivation. I’m not sure how.”
She was unaware of any businesses operating in Costa Mesa as “true collectives,” arguing that state law does not legalize their right to exist, it only allows them a defense to criminal charges. “This point gets lost a lot in discussions,” she said. “Under state law, transportation of marijuana is still illegal and sales are still illegal. . . . All of the businesses [in Costa Mesa] that have been ordered to cease and desist” were served “after investigations determined they were not complying with state or federal law.”
McKeen says his lawyers have “attempted numerous times to sit down with the city” to discuss the collective side of Otherside Farms, only to be told the city’s attorneys “don’t have time.”