What does the Jovan Jackson verdict tell us about our access?

I was devastated yesterday after hearing that a jury convicted Jovan Jackson for providing medicine to sick and dying patients in California- in STATE court! How could this be? How could a provider in CA be railroaded into a conviction? It is a travesty of justice, and the good news is that there is a good chance he will be allowed to appeal it and get a new trial.

The big deal in this particular trial was the Judge’s decision to not allow Mr. Jackson a medical defense because the Judge deemed his actions were outside of the realm of what is allowed under the current medical laws. You see, the Judge’s interpretation of SB420’s allowing of “collective cultiuvation” is that only a situation such as a “community garden” were legal under law. Therefore, since Mr. Jackson SOLD cannabis to patients in a dispensing collective setting that he was outside of what is lawful and not worthy of a medical defense in court. The Judge even went as far as to disallow Americans for Safe Access t-shirts and logos in the courtroom. Amazing, right? In this day and age? Really?

But this is not a secluded incident and the ramifications could be far reaching. There are operators all over the state who should fear for their freedom if this decision is allowed to stand. Conservative and concerned District Attorneys, Sheriffs, and City Officials have long claimed that dispensaries were illegal simply because they sold cannabis to patients. This decision affirms many of those archaic interpretations and could result in further backlash as the opposition is bolstered by this decision. It stands to reason that many operators- from LA to Butte County- could be railroaded based on decisions like this. And what is worrisome is that most in the community do not see the writing on the wall.

SB420 and Prop. 215 do not clearly allow for a distribution system that involves the changing hands of money. Therefore, much like how we have been able to advance our cause based on this unclarity ion the law, also those who oppose cannabis collectives can use it to limit access and criminalize providers who are just trying to make a living. Many should be worried. But some believe that the current situation will last forever. That the opposition will continue to allow for loose interpretations of grey area to carry on with zero opposition- that is naive thinking.

It is already apparent that we are losing the hearts and minds of lawmakers and people in the community because the current system is simply more about being legal than it is about being medical. This is a big issue we all face, and we must move forward or be eaten alive standing still. We have an opportunity in November to pass a law that allows for the enjoyable users to separate themselves from the medical users- for there to be a law that allows for sales and distribution- and a law that adds another layer of protection to medical users and providers. This important step could never be more important than now. So I urge medical users and providers to consider the case of Jovan Jackson as a clear wake-up call that we are far from out of the woods and that we must act on 19 to advance the cause of cannabis freedom.

It could be your collective that is forced to defend themselves in court with your hands tied behind your back. It could be your organization that is targeted because you are more than a community garden. It is silly to believe that the current indifference to the law will last forever. Vote Yes on 19 and help protect providers like Jovan and countless others who are under attack for their right to provide cannabis.

"The Good Old Daze"

Will we one day look back on this moment as “the good old daze,” where for a moment in history we pushed back prohibition and people had more cannabis freedom? I sure hope not. I hope this is the “remember when we had to go to a Doctor to use cannabis legally” era. But far too many people believe that the current landscape will remain as vague and allowing as it is now. Some are so happy with their freedom as a patient that they fail to see the writing on the wall- our access is under attack. All over the State there has been a relaxed atmosphere regarding medical cannabis and people have somewhat found a comfort zone in which they have become lazy and complacent. People are so enamored with the current situation that they choose to ignore the facts- all over the State medical use is under attack, people think the medical system is a sham, and the powers at be are working to shade in the gray area and do away with the current system where collectives are undefined entities that provide cannabis to members through “incremental reimbursement,” or “donation” or whatever the cutesy word they choose to use for “sales” may be. The fact is that this cannot, and will not, last forever. Look around you.

Patient providers like Jovan Jackson find themselves in a court of law facing cannabis distribution charges and felonies for providing medical cannabis without being allowed a medical defense. Heck, the Judge even ruled ASA shirts were not allowed in the courtroom. How is that for safe access? Or Jeff Joseph facing charges for running a collective? Is he a criminal and the rest of you are not? Or Craig X Rubin? Do you believe that how he was targeted could not happen to you? Or the countless others who have spent the year tending their medical garden because people like Lanette Davies told them the “could grow as much as they wanted because that was between them and their Doctor” only to have Sheriff’s come and cut down their hard work and file charges for them being misinformed. You are blind if you do not see that your access is under attack and that YOU could be the victim any day because while the unclarity of Prop 215 and SB420 have afforded the community to explore the boundaries of the law, that same unclarity has allowed for rogue District Attorneys and Cops all over the State to kick in doors, and drag people to jail because their rights to grow and sell cannabis are not clearly protected anywhere in the current laws.

But do not ask me. What do California Lawmakers think? Do they believe the current system is on the up and up? Remember, it was the legislature that passed SB420, and they also can repeal or amend it to restrict freedoms and “control and regulate” the system better. In a recent vote on a resolution that would have called for an end to Federal interference into State “medical” cannabis affairs, “SJR14,” was struck down because lawmakers do not support the current state of affairs of the medial cannabis industry. They feel the freedoms are too loose and that the system is wrought with abuse. Here is what ASA wrote about it:

SJR 14 should have been a winner in a Democratic legislature – it costs nothing, does not change state law, and calls for action only in the federal arena. Unfortunately, ambivalence about medical cannabis is at a high water mark in Sacramento. Even legislators with a track record of support are worried about increasingly unpopular collectives, lenient doctors, or patients that “don’t look sick.” That is why some of the twelve silent Assemblymembers withheld their support for SJR 14.

So it begs to ask….”Who do we think we are fooling besides ourselves?” It is okay to believe in your heart that “all use is medical” like Dennis Peron and his group of loyal followers put forth. But does this really hold water? Can you really accuse all cannabis users who choose to believe they are not ill or injured to believe that they are simply “patients in denial.” Can we continue to push down the throats of society a fact that even most cannabis users do not really believe? Does it water down the real medical use of many patients to hear that EVERYONE is a patient and that they are no more sick than the 20-year-old kid who walked out of his doctor’s appointment “stoked to be legal, dude?” It is disingenuous and further pushes the real medical use and properties to the back burner because we choose to include everyone and everything as a medical issue, to which medical professionals and members of the community see as a huge abuse in the system.

I often address medical cannabis issues on local, non-cannabis blogs, often finding myself arguing with soccer moms and concerned folks that believe the current system is out of control. I am constantly defending the current and obvious abuses in the “everyone is medical” scenario. It is tiring to have to continue to defend this position because, frankly, there is a lot of truth in the argument. I support folks participating in Civil Disobedience and being “legal” by virtue of a doctor’s note, but I also understand that their are limits on how far this can be put forth and that eventually there will be a backlash. On an East bay blog, Claycord.com, I often find myself engaged in a spirited discussion with locals who do not use cannabis and who definitely do not believe that all use is medical. Here are a couple of the type of comments that I hae run across all the time that represent an increasing sentiment in the community and has lawmakers looking to roll back and limit the current state of affairs.

I have no problem with people using medicinal marijuana for their health issues. BUT so many people claim they have a health issue when they indeed do not, just to be able to get high. It’s a sham. What are some of these 21 y/o young males claiming they have?? Hangnails? An acute case of inarticulate, illiterate, personality disorder??

or this:

I would like to see marijuana available to the chronically ill. I wish the The State would find a way to control the sales of pot to only those who NEED it–and have a Rx–for physical pain or discomfort, such as through pharmacies. I, also, wish the State would better regulate the doctors who write bogus Rxs. I see one possibility would be to put a dispensary in a very large open space with zillions of acres in an unincorporated area of the county and that only one person at at time with a Rx could enter and only a very small amount could be dispensed at one time….and I don’t mean an ounce.

or this angle:

Half of the people i know in the bay area have the “medical card” to be able to buy weed in the dispensaries,and NONE of them have a single medical condition

These are the thoughts of people who are not in the cannabis looking glass and are observing the situation from the outside in. These are the types of arguments that we need to stop having. No matter what your thoughts are, we need to get to a place where citizens, law enforcement, and the media can quit demeaning cannabis by playing Doctor and deciding who is and who is not sick enough to use cannabis. Cannabis is safe and effective and enjoyable. We need to pass Prop. 19 and ensure that the real patients are protected and that those who may just go to the Doctor to be “legal” can quit pressing the boundaries and making the situation more difficult to justify.

We owe it to ourselves to advance the cause and move the ball down the field before the access we currently know and love become referred to as “The Good Old Daze,” when we believed the medical situation would never change and that we would be safe forever. it is just not a reality. So live in the now. Open your eyes. Vote YES on 19. Your access depends on it. If you believe it does not then I have a bridge in Florida to sell you….

And for real medical patients…nothing will change (unless of course you do nothing):

Prop 19 does not overturn or supersede Prop 215.  #1) Its Purposes and Intents are to make medical access safer and easier.  #2) It’s loaded with “Notwithstanding any other provision of law” clauses that mean “except where another law already makes something more legal” – like Prop 215.  #3) All powers over cultivation given to localities specifically mention “commercial” purposes.

TAKE ACTION" Tell Arnie to pump it up and sign SB1449

California Action Alert: Schwarzenegger Must Decide Marijuana

Infraction Measure Next Week!
September 23, 2010
By Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director

Outgoing California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has until  Thursday, September 30, to decide the fate of Senate Bill 1449 –  which would reduce adult marijuana possession charges from a criminal  misdemeanor to a civil infraction. That gives reformers one final week to lobby for this sensible reform. If you have not yet contacted the Governor in support of this historic legislation, please do so today.

Senate Bill 1449 amends the California Health and Safety Code so that the adult possession of up to 28.5 grams of marijuana is classified as an infraction, punishable by no more than a $100 fine – no court appearance, no court costs, and no criminal record.

Passage of bill would save the state millions of dollars in court costs by keeping minor marijuana offenders out of court. The number of misdemeanor pot prosecutions has surged in recent years, reaching 61,388 in 2008. Adults who consume marijuana responsibly are not part of the crime problem, and the state should stop treating them like criminals.

Governor Schwarzenegger, a Republican, has vetoed several different marijuana law reform bills in the past. Therefore, if you live in California, it is vital that you please e-mail or call Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s office and urge him to sign SB 1449 into law.  For your convenience, a pre-written letter will be e-mailed to the Governor when you visit NORML’s ‘Take Action’ Center here. http://capwiz.com/norml2/issues/alert/?alertid=16364941

Arnold’s offices at are http://gov.ca.gov/interact#contact

Governor’s Office:
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
State Capitol Building
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: 916-445-2841
Fax: 916-558-3160 ( new number )

District Offices:
Fresno Office
2550 Mariposa Mall #3013
Fresno, CA 93721
Phone: 559-477-1804
Fax: 559-445-5328

Los Angeles Office
300 South Spring Street
Suite 16701
Los Angeles, CA 90013
Phone: 213-897-0322
Fax: 213-897-0319

Riverside Office
3737 Main Street #201
Riverside, CA 92501
Phone: 951-680-6860
Fax: 951-680-6863

San Diego Office
1350 Front Street
Suite 6054
San Diego, CA 92101
Phone: 619-525-4641
Fax: 619-525-4640

San Francisco Office
455 Golden Gate Avenue
Suite 14000
San Francisco, CA 94102
Phone: 415-703-2218
Fax: 415-703-2803

Another medical cannabis collective shut down. Owner charged with FELONIES.

We continue to see more stories like this where collective operators are being shut down and charged with crimes for providing medicine to patients. We can be sure to see more situations like this if there are not added protections given for cannais users. This is another reason to establish Prop. 19 and add another layer to the onion.

Novato woman charged with multiple marijuana felonies, conspiracy

Solano County prosecutors have charged a 42-year-old Novato woman who runs two medical pot clubs with multiple marijuana felonies and conspiracy.

The Solano County Sheriff’s Office arrested Cindy Elizabeth Harris last Thursday and raided her Tree of Life medical marijuana dispensaries in Santa Venetia and Fairfield with help from other agencies.

Prosecutors have since charged her with five counts of transporting or distributing marijuana, one count of possessing marijuana for sale and one count of conspiracy, the Solano County District Attorney’s Office said Wednesday. Bail was set at $68,332.

Authorities also arrested Harris’ son, 24-year-old Chad Grimm, at his Sebastopol home and charged him with possession of marijuana for sale and conspiracy, prosecutors said. Grimm’s girlfriend, 26-year-old Jennifer Ryan, was also arrested at the home.

It wasn’t clear whether authorities believed Harris and Grimm were selling pot to people other than medical marijuana patients, and the sheriff’s office and the deputy district attorney handling the case could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Harris’ defense attorney, Omar Figueroa, also could not be reached for comment.

But Kim Pelham, who managed the Going Green dispensary in Corte Madera and is a close personal friend of Harris, said both Harris and Grimm were released after posting bail Tuesday.

She said detectives also raided Harris’ parents’ home in Mendocino County last week, as well as her Novato apartment and a warehouse. At the time of her arrest, Harris was waiting for the Fairfield Planning Department to approve a permit for her dispensary and had paid the city about $17,000, Pelham said.

Meanwhile, it remained unclear whether Tree of Life’s Santa Venetia shop would reopen.

“The understanding was under the bail agreement, she is not allowed to sell medical marijuana in Solano County but Marin was not included in it,” Pelham said.

Source: http://www.marinij.com/marinnews/ci_16147435

Get your protest on if you are in LA on Tuesday…..

You GOTS to get up, get out, and get something…DON”T LET THE DAYS OF YOUR LIFE PASS BY……

They’re At It Again!

Stand Up for Safe Access To Medical Marijuana in LA

Los Angeles City Attorney Carmen Trutanich is trying to push virtually every medical cannabis patients’ collective out of operation! Only 25% of collectives meet his harsh and arbitrary standards. That is not enough to serve legal patients in LA!

Join Americans for Safe Access (ASA) and friends to “Stand Up for Safe Access” when the LA city Council returns from summer recess on September 7. Let the City Attorney know he can not roll back access for to medicine, and ask the City Council to Stand Up with patients!

What: Stand Up for Safe Access!

When: 9:00 AM * Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Where: 200 North Main Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012

Info: don@safeaccessnow.org or toll free (888) 929-4367

What can you do to help? Bring signs, banners, friends, and loved ones to this peaceful protest and press conference before the City Council meeting. Forward a link to this page to your lists. Come prepared – bring drinking water, wear a hat for shade, wear sunscreen.


8:30 – Gather for the event and enjoy doughnuts provided by the Greater Los Angeles Collective Alliance (GLACA)

9:00 – Press conference and rally

10:00 – Supporters will speak during the Public Comments portion of the City Council meeting. You must complete a Public Speakers card before the meeting. ASA will have Talking Points to help you frame you comments.

After Public Comments – Join the rally outside

Read LA City Attorney Turns Up the Heat for more information.

See you Tuesday!

Mobile Collectives on the move and thriving…

I like the delivery model. I think it represents a more intimate method for patients to interact with their collectives and gives the patients a convenient and low key method of accessing their medicine. I remember my good friend and mentor Jane Weirick founded Compassion on Wheels in the early days of Prop. 215’s passage, and set forth a model for the modern delivery service. It is puzzling that some who provide these services now consider themselves to be unique and that others are copying their model. Rewind it for a minute and realize that YOU are following in the footsteps of legends, not the other way around. Cannabis delivery is a time honored tradition that far eclipses the models that the folks in this article out forth. In 1992, I was helping a person in NYC operate a delivery service in the city that was far more expansive and successful than anything we see here today….

Medical-marijuana delivery services complicate legal picture in California

From his apartment building in San Francisco’s bustling Fisherman’s Wharf neighborhood, Kevin Reed, owner of The Green Cross, goes about the daily business of running a medical-marijuana delivery service. Reed, an Alabama native with a warm Southern accent, oversees the baking of pot brownies and cookies, prepares bags for delivery, and, beginning at 8 a.m., takes phone orders from registered members of his collective. According to Reed, his enterprise isn’t so different from any other operation. “It really is just like running a pizza service.”

The emergence of door-to-door pot delivery services is at least one unintended consequence of the cat-and-mouse game between law enforcement and suppliers that’s been going on in California in recent years, in the wake of a boom in the industry — particularly since 2009,when the Obama administration announced a shift in federal policy, saying it would no longer target operators or customers of medicalmarijuana dispensaries who abide by state laws.

As officials have tried to get a handle on the proliferation with stricter regulations and forced closures, many dispensaries have found a way to remain in operation by replacing their traditional storefront with a courier service. Uniting under the slogan “We Deliver,” hundreds of mobile dispensaries now advertise their services on the Internet, offering a variety of strains of cannabis and cannabis-based products, such as brownies and cookies, to legally certified patients. These outfits may or may not be legal — since few current laws directly address their existence — but they are almost as common as dry cleaners in California now, with customer reviews available on popular Websites like Yelp.com. (“Best service ever,” says one Green Cross patron. “Seriously, so amazing. Great staff. Great people. Very knowledgeable. Gotta love the specials too!”)

The Wild Wild West
The rapid growth of California’s pot industry into uncharted legal territory has only heightened the stakes forProposition 19, a monumental initiative on the November ballot that could make California the first state in the nation to legalize marijuana for recreational purposes. Thirteen other states followed suit after Californians passed Proposition 215 in 1996, enabling patients with a valid doctor’s recommendation to possess and cultivate marijuana for personal medical use, so activists on both sides of the issue will be watching closely, looking to gauge the national mood.

While advocates have mounted a strong push for legalization (a June survey by Public Policy Polling showed 52 percent support for Prop. 19), elected officials have been just as committed in their attempts to crack down on the so-called Green Rush in the state. According to Americans for Safe Access, a total of 129 cities and nine counties across California have banned medical marijuana dispensaries. However, as more dispensaries are forced to shut down, a growing number of pot delivery services are avoiding such restrictions and thriving as a result.

Nowhere is this more evident than in Southern California, where estimates on the number of dispensaries in Los Angeles have ranged from 500 to 1,000. In an attempt to control the marijuana industry in the area, the L.A. City Council passed an ordinance in January of this yearrequiring all marijuana dispensaries that violated the city’s 2007 moratorium on new collectives to shut down their physical locations. As a result, the 439 dispensaries that ignored the initial moratorium were forced to close, and even tighter restrictions were placed on the remaining dispensaries. Under the ordinance, which went into effect June 7, only 41 are now technically eligible to stay open.

Kevin Reed’s Green Cross was the first medical marijuana dispensary to obtain a permit for delivery in San Francisco four years ago, after being forced by the city council there to shut down and move locations. Since then, he has run a successful medical-marijuana delivery service that is in compliance with all city regulations.

“There is a Wild West atmosphere right now in California and especially in L.A.,” Reed says. Reed relates the situation to his own experience with San Francisco’s city council. “I think the rise of delivery services in L.A. has a tremendous amount to do with the ordinance and forced closures. It was big news when San Francisco closed us down, and I think a lot of dispensaries in L.A. saw the success we had, and are now trying to emulate our delivery business model.”

CW: It does not serve anyone to continue to feed into the Wild West rhetoric. How egotistical does one have to believe that people are emulating them when HUNDREDS of delivery services were in business LONG BEFORE your organization ever blessed the world with your presence 4 short years ago.

City officials in Los Angeles are struggling to contain the growth of such delivery services, and maintain that their existence is in violation of the ordinance passed in January. According to Monica Valencia, press deputy for L.A. city councilman Ed Reyes, “[the medical-marijuana delivery services] are prohibited per our city ordinance. Unless the collectives are registered, they are in violation of the city’s ordinance.”

CW: Funny how private membership organization’s that operate with no zoning issues are somehow privy to an ill-written ordinance.
To regulate or not to regulate?
A real estate developer who uses the name Matt Lawrence for his business is the director of C420, an online medical-marijuana dispensary service that ships to more than 1,000 legal customers across the state. The nonprofit collective, which opened in April 2010, has hubs in both Northern and Southern California, and uses an unnamed third-party carrier to deliver the product. Lawrence emphasized the importance of following state and national guidelines, saying, “All of our customers are pre-verified with the appropriate documents and doctor’s notes. Additionally, all of our products are produced within the state. We also do not ship marijuana products out of the state, because that is against federal law.”

A longtime advocate of medical cannabis, Lawrence says, “I am actually in favor of the L.A. ordinance. The situation is out of control in California, and without proper regulation, there is a lot of opportunity for fraud and unhealthy, low-grade marijuana to be sold.”

CW: “I am actually in favor of shutting down my competitors….,” even though the city wants to shut me down too…..How ignorant.

On the other hand, Dann Halem, owner of Artists Collective, has a less favorable opinion of the crackdown in L.A. Prior to the city council vote in January, Halem moved his base of operations out of Los Angeles to West Hollywood, and set up a mobile dispensary that is now doing quite well.
“The L.A. City Council has consistently been behind on this issue. I think they are making a big mistake by forcing over 400 dispensaries to close down. Rather than regulating it and seeing the positive outcomes, they have taken the approach of containment and control. This really doesn’t benefit anyone. This industry has the potential to raise a huge amount of money for good initiatives through proper regulation.”

Councilman Reyes, who has overseen most of the consideration of the medical-marijuana-dispensaries issue, claims that the city council “has implemented a medical-marijuana ordinance that we believe is both prudent and fair. My goal has been and continues to be, implementing an ordinance that secures access for those who need access to dispensaries for medical purposes, while at the same time protecting the health and safety of our communities.”

Social benefit vs. legal nightmare
Among other attempts to control the growth of the industry overall, the state passed a law in 2003 authorizing marijuana collectives to operate strictly on a nonprofit basis. Halem, the owner of what he calls a “social business,” has capitalized on the booming medical-marijuana industry to do public good, by using medical marijuana profits to fund a social initiative. Halem accomplished this by donating his profits toward funding grants for emerging artists, writers, performers, and musicians. Halem said this is one of the most rewarding aspects of his job, as he has been able to inspire people in the art world, an industry that is consistently underfunded.

I would be interested in testimonials from the Artists, writers and performers who are reaping these benefits.

“I think marijuana should be legalized, but in a way that requires the company’s association with a federal nonprofit organization. I am against Proposition 19, because it appears to eliminate the nonprofit factor. It is hard enough to be a medical marijuana nonprofit dispensary, and Proposition 19 would make it even more difficult because we’d have to compete with big corporations. In short, we are in favor of legalization, but not corporatization.”

CW: Here we are with another operator fearing for their business model and trying to undermine legalization efforts by appealing to the non-profit aspect of the industry. NEWSFLASH: YOU CAN RUN A NON_PROFIT AND BENEFIT THE COMMUNITY IF YOU WANT TO REGARDLESS OF THE LEGAL STATUS OF CANNABIS. This is just another ill-conceived statement that chooses to play on the sympathies of people rather than the reality of the situation.

Reed feels differently about the proposition, fearing that full legalization of marijuana would benefit only recreational users, and not his patients. He adds that since becoming a delivery service, he has come to greatly appreciate the direct contact with his customers and the more welcoming response from the surrounding San Francisco neighborhood, claiming, “When we switched to delivery, suddenly people loved us because we were no longer a visible presence in the neighborhood.”

CW: “Would benefit only recreational users…” C’mon Kevin. Get real. You worry that your patients will not need you any longer and that you will have to compete in a much more vibrant market…Have you ever thought that maybe some of your “patients” wish they did not have to go to a Doctor to use cannabis? That legalizing cannabis will begin to separate the pretenders from the real patients and that REAL medical patients can be taken more seriously and the scrutiny that comes from people who feel that need to fudge their medical issues to use cannabis will cease to exist?

But a substantial number remain opposed to legalization under any scenario, delivery service or not. Roger Morgan, for instance, executive director of the spearheading anti-drug organization Coalition for a Drug-Free California, voices the group’s outrage in no uncertain terms: “We are against Proposition 19. It would be a legal nightmare. The proposition itself is so ridiculous; I think whoever wrote it must have been smoking pot at the time. Marijuana is a dangerous substance that causes irreversible harm to developing brains, and if it is legalized, there is no way to guarantee it wouldn’t get into the hands of kids who would be severely hurt by the drug.”

CW: Ahhhh… the save the kids argument. How refreshing. Yes. You are doing a great job of keeping booze, tobacco, and prescription meds out of the hands of kids. NOT. Why do all of us have to suffer because people are bad parents? This fallacy is so crazy. Kids have MUCH GREATER access to cannabis BECAUSE it is unregulated. Just ask them…Oh yeah. That would require actually communicating with them. Why not just have the government babysit for us????

Halem acknowledged that while many people can get a recommendation for medical marijuana today and his customers certainly “run the gamut,” many of his patients are clearly physically ill and need their medication delivered.

“The most rewarding part of the job is to have the ability to help someone who is really sick. When you help someone who is in a lot of pain, it is a great feeling. Frankly, it is these moments that keep us going, and I hope we will continue to be successful.

CW: I agree about this rewarding sensation, as it truly does keep you grounded, but in the same sentence you are acknowledging that you serve a number of people that are not “really sick,” thus watering down the ones who are and creating a mockery of the system. Why not just let those people, as grown ass people, use cannabis without the charades?

Source: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ynews/20100827/ts_ynews/ynews_ts3502

LOS ANGELES says only 41 collectives are legal. Sends out letters to all others.

DAMN! When is the last time LA had 41 collectives? Are there 29 permits now available if the city wins? And the beat goes on. This should become ridiculous…really.

LA: Only 41 Medical Pot Dispensaries Can Stay Open

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Los Angeles officials said Wednesday that only 41 medical marijuana dispensaries can stay open under a city ordinance, and letters were sent to 129 clinics notifying them that they may be shut down.

The city attorney’s office said it expects a slew of lawsuits and will file a countersuit asking a judge to determine that the city’s strict process in interpreting the law was appropriate. The city said it won’t seek to close any clinics before a court ruling.

”We’re trying to be proactive,” Jane Usher, a special assistant city attorney, told the Los Angeles Times. Usher said the small number of eligible dispensaries was ”a surprise.”

Nearly 30 lawsuits have already been filed challenging the procedure the city council adopted Jan. 26 to limit the number of dispensaries. Owners must undergo a background check, their stores must be 1,000 feet from schools, parks and other gathering sites, and their pot must be tested at an independent laboratory.

Most of the dispensaries that have sued are among more than 400 ordered to shut down.

Usher said the city’s suit will be filed Thursday before Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Anthony J. Mohr, who is presiding over all the lawsuits. He has set a Sept. 21 hearing on constitutional issues.

Hundreds of dispensaries appeared across the city when officials failed to enforce a 2007 moratorium on medical pot clinics.

When the city council passed the January ordinance, it estimated that about 130 dispensaries might qualify to stay open. Under that law, if the number of eligible dispensaries dropped below 70, additional clinics would be chosen in a lottery. The total number of dispensaries in the city would then be capped at 70.

City officials said 170 dispensaries applied to be allowed to remain open, but 129 failed to meet the criteria. The city clerk’s office mailed letters Wednesday to each dispensary notifying it of its status and also posted the list on the office’s website.

Anaheim Decision In, but solves nothing really…

With all of the time and consideration taken by the appellate court, I had anticipated a less WISHY WASHY decision. Is it too much to ask for a court to grow a sack of nuts and make a firm decision in this case. Can cities ban collectives or not? That is not too hard of a question. But here we go on the court roller-coaster with some of the responsibility being dumped back to a lower court and a sure appeal to the CA Supreme Court is in order. Here is an ASA brief on the decision.

California Appellate Court Reinstates Medical Marijuana Dispensary Ban Case

State law & AG guidelines allowing for local distribution validated and remain in effect

Santa Ana, CA — California’s Fourth District Court of Appeal issued a long-awaited ruling today, choosing not to decide whether localities can ban medical marijuana distribution, and remanding the case back to Orange County Superior Court for further factual development. While nearly four-dozen California localities — including some of the most populous cities, such as Los Angeles, Long Beach, Oakland, and San Francisco — have successfully implemented ordinances regulating medical marijuana dispensaries, more than 130 cities have imposed bans like Anaheim’s.

The unanimous decision, authored by Judge Richard Aronson, reversed the trial court’s ruling that federal law preempts state law, but failed to rule on whether Anaheim’s local ordinance could preempt the state’s Medical Marijuana Program Act (MMPA). The ruling states that because Proposition 215 and the MMPA “do not mandate conduct that federal law prohibits, nor pose an obstacle to federal enforcement of federal law, the enactments’ decriminalization provisions are not preempted by federal law.” In a statement favorable to the plaintiff, the court questions how “a city may criminalize as a misdemeanor a particular use of property the state expressly has exempted from ‘criminal liability,'” as it does in the MMPA.

CW: SO….this is good. Federal law does not preempt State law….but we knew that from the Kha case, so, while this affirmation is appreciated it is OLD NEWS…

“While we understand the difficult nature of deciding this issue, the court’s ruling delays a decision that will affect thousands of patients who remain without access to their medication because of hostile jurisdictions,” said Joe Elford, Chief Counsel with Americans for Safe Access (ASA), the country’s leading medical marijuana patient advocacy group, which filed briefs in the Anaheim case and argued before the Court of Appeal last September. “The silver lining to this decision is that the court has reinstated the lawsuit and is providing the plaintiffs the opportunity to prove that dispensary bans are illegal under state law.”

CW: Silver linings suck. I wanted a completely silver cloud of OG Kush smoke…but thems the breaks.

The case Qualified Patients Association v. City of Anaheim was the result of a lawsuit filed shortly after Anaheim voted to ban dispensaries in July of 2007. Qualified Patients Association was a local medical marijuana dispensary that had been in operation for 5 months prior to the ban. An appeal was filed in March of 2008 after the Orange County Superior Court ruled that Anaheim could prohibit dispensaries from operating within its city limits.

CW: 2008? It is almost 2011….I hate the slow wheels of justice.

The Anaheim case has drawn a lot of attention as more and more local governments have been forced to confront the issue of access to medical marijuana. Despite guidelines recognizing the legality of storefront dispensaries issued in August of 2008 by the California Attorney General, multiple statewide law enforcement associations filed briefs in support of Anaheim’s ban, as did nearly three-dozen cities.

CW: HATERS!!!!! It is only cannabis medicine. You cops and overzealous city officials need to get a life, grow a spine, and take a long look at why you spend so much time and energy hating on some patients and their plants.

“We will continue to fight for the right of patients to access medical marijuana through local dispensaries, which is provided for by the Medical Marijuana Program Act, previous case law and guidelines issued by the California Attorney General,” continued Elford. “Whether or not the Anaheim case is brought before this court again, this issue will eventually be reheard and we are confident of the eventual outcome.”

CW: The great Joe Elford. Thanks, Joe. Your words always make me feel better, so at least I have that going for me, which is nice.

Further Information:
Today’s ruling in Qualified Patients Association v. City of Anaheim:http://AmericansForSafeAccess.org/downloads/Anaheim_Ruling.pdf
Status of California city ordinances regulating and banning dispensaries:http://AmericansForSafeAccess.org/regulations

Some other words on the decision:

In  its long-awaited ruling in Qualified Patients Association vs. the City of Anaheim , the California Court of Appeals ruled that Anaheim could not use federal pre-emption as a grounds to ban medical marijuana dispensaries.  The court struck down a lower court decision that had sustained a demurrer to QPA’s suit against Anaheim on the grounds that dispensaries were illegal under federal law.
On a second issue, the court found with the city of Anaheim as to whether the QPA could sue on the grounds that the city’s ordinance violated the state Unruh Act by discriminating against them on the basis of a disability or medical condition.  The court ruled that the Unruh Act did not apply
The court remanded the suit of Qualified Patients Association to the lower court, reinstating the plaintiffs’ cause of action seeking declaratory judgment on whether Prop. 215 and SB 420 pre-empt the city’s ordinance.
The bottom line is that it remains an open question as to whether local dispensary bans are illegal, butfederal preemption is not a valid argument for declaring so.
– Dale Gieringer, CANORML

You can always count on Dale to shoot straight from the hip and break it down for what it is. Not for what on hopes it to be or wishes it was. Thanks, Dale.

And from Steve Kubby, the movement’s eternal optimist:).

We won!  Not like we would have liked, but this is an important decision for us, because of it drives a silver stake through the key argument of police, prosecutors and local governments, that Dispensaries are still a violation of federal law.  We all owe a debt of gratitude to Joe Elford, Chief Counsel for ASA, for his brilliant amicus brief that played a key role in the decision.

Thanks for the uplifting words and recognition of Elford’s work.

And then there is Dale G bringing Kubby back to earth a bit:

This decision isn’t exactly a sweeping victory for anyone because it ducks the essential question:  can cities legally ban dispensaries under state law?   The court  remanded the question for further litigation in the lower courts.
While it is nice that the court rejected federal preemption, this was pretty much a foregone conclusion since they had already done so in the Kha case.
– Dale Gieringer

CW: So there we have it. Several months and a lot of energy put forth for very little political movement in either direction. Well I am glad I waited for that. Geez.

MAINE: California with lighthouses?

Pretty good article by the Kennebec Journal on its own. All I will say is cannabis and lobster are great together. Maine is a beautiful state. The industry will be a bit different as the state licensed collectives will be responsible for providing all of the cannabis for sale. It is yet to be seen how this will work for patient choice and variety.

California offers one example

A different culture is in play out West

By John Richardson jrichardson@mainetoday.com
Staff Writer

Sunday Maine Telegram

BERKELEY, Calif. — It’s 9 a.m. and as soon as the uniformed guard pulls open the black iron gate in front of the Berkeley Patients Group, a small line forms inside the city’s oldest and busiest marijuana dispensary.

Sara Romano leans over a glass case and checks out the day’s selection. She lifts a couple of samples to her nose and sniffs before handing over $300 cash for an ounce of Space Queen, a favorite remedy for anxiety and depression, she says.

The 39-year-old software saleswoman tucks the marijuana buds into a small brown paper bag, along with $60 worth of “baking marijuana” to put in brownies and marshmallow treats for some older women she cares for.

“Edibles are kind of a lot less scary for people who are just getting introduced to the weed world,” she said.

Maine is about to get its own introduction to world of medical marijuana, California-style.

Approved by voters last fall, eight medical marijuana dispensaries are due to open around the state over the next six months. Portland, Bangor, Augusta and Thomaston could have theirs by the end of the year.

Maine has some of the nation’s tightest rules about who can operate dispensaries and who can buy the marijuana — a clear attempt to avoid excesses and abuses that earned California a reputation as the Wild West of cannabis.

California has an estimated 400 dispensaries, but no one keeps count. In Los Angeles, there are said to be more marijuana dispensaries than there are Starbucks shops.

Maine’s dispensaries, however, will be modeled after what are considered northern California’s largest and most well-run dispensaries, including the Berkeley Patients Group here and Harborside Treatment Center in nearby Oakland.

Rebecca DeKeuster, the chief executive officer of the group that will operate four Maine dispensaries, is the former general manager for the Berkeley Patients Group.

‘Best business in town’

A look inside the bustling storefronts in California reveals an operation that’s part pharmacy, part boutique, part social club — and entirely unlike anything Maine has seen before.

“The best business in town. They’re busy from the time they open until the time they close,” said Roger Ramirez, owner of the Berkeley Auto Service a few doors down San Pablo Avenue.

About 700 or more people each day file into the Berkeley Patients Group, which is open 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., every day of the week. It’s been in operation since 1999.

Some visit weekly or monthly to stock up. Others come back every day to relax, socialize and smoke their medicine.

In California, patients can buy as much as 2 ounces per week. Maine plans to limit purchases to 2.5 ounces every two weeks.

Brad Senesac, marketing director for Berkeley Patients Group, would not say how much the dispensary generates in sales, although it is clearly many millions a year. Most of that is paid to growers, who effectively get wholesale prices.

But, Senesac said, Berkeley operates as a not-for-profit, which means its net revenues go into services for patients and donations to community organizations. It donated about $250,000 last year to organizations such as a nearby preschool and health clinic, he said.

California does not require dispensaries to file any accounting of their revenue, expenses or charitable donations.

The dispensary employs 65 people. Entry-level workers earn $15 an hour, along with health and dental coverage, Senesac said. He would not say what the top officers and directors earn, except that it’s consistent with other nonprofits.

‘It probably saved my life’

The first thing a newcomer sees is the security outside the building, a former used-car showroom with a circular glass façade behind a tall iron gate. The security staff uses 32 cameras to watch over the dispensary, inside and out; two unarmed guards also patrol the lot at all times.

Each visitor has to show identification and a medical marijuana registration card, proving they have a signed recommendation from a doctor. First-timers typically get a friendly introduction from the staff.

Then they enter the lounge, a bright room where they can smoke their marijuana or inhale the drug smokelessly using a special vaporizer. There’s free coffee, tea and snacks, and jazz playing in the background.

Richard Lahrson shuffles into the lounge, sets down his cane and settles at a small table. He’s not buying today, but came to the dispensary because it’s a safe and friendly place to smoke his medicine.

“It’s a great place,” said Lahrson, who didn’t want to talk about his illness.

He packs marijuana into one of the dispensary’s bongs, or water pipes. He lights up and inhales as a woman at the next table rolls and lights a marijuana cigarette.

Not all of California’s dispensaries — often called marijuana clubs here — allow patients to smoke on-site, and it’s not clear if any of Maine’s will.

Maine rules say only that the marijuana cannot be smoked in public and that employees can’t smoke at work. But state officials may revisit the issue to more expressly say that smoking on-site by patients won’t be allowed, said Catherine Cobb, head of licensing for the Department of Health and Human Services.

On one side of the Berkeley lounge is a room where, on different days of the week, patients might talk to a counselor, get a massage or have an acupuncture session.

And, on the other side is the store, where patients can buy pipes or bongs, cannabis lotions and balms, marijuana cook-books and clones — six-inch tall marijuana plants grown from cuttings that sell for $12 apiece. The dispensary accepts cash and credit cards.

Ross DeGregory buys three “kush” clones for his home marijuana garden.

The 22-year-old, who helps runs a family painting business, said he relies on the drug to help with insomnia and to ease pain from a back injury that got him addicted to prescription painkillers years ago.

“I don’t think I could have gotten clean and sober without marijuana,” he said. “It probably saved my life.”

Before leaving, DeGregory also buys an ounce of processed buds that he plans to share with family members, including his grandmother. She is a registered medical marijuana patient, too, he said.

The heart of the operation is the actual dispensary, an open room with chairs along the back wall and a long glass case in front with samples of all the buds in stock, as well as edibles such as pot brownies and lozenges.

Overhead, a color-coded electronic sign shows the available varieties, including Super Silver Hazer and Purple Afgoo. Prices depend on quality, and range from $20 to $55 for an eighth of an ounce, or as much as $440 for an ounce.

Patients queue up as if waiting for a bank teller.

Alan Clark, one of four employees behind the counter, explains some of the choices to a first-time visitor. Each variety of plant has different medical effects, such as relieving pain or increasing appetites, he said. And the effects also can vary from person to person.

Clark and other employees get training, but many of them also are medical marijuana users who can speak from personal experience.

“I smoke for anxiety,” Clark said. “A lot of people here love the kushes. But, for me, they send me straight to nap time and I get nothing done.”

He usually recommends All Star Jack Frost for anxiety.

“It gives you a heady, euphoric high and a sense of well-being,” Clark said. “And you’re not all cloudy headed like you’re smoking a granddaddy or something.”

His pick for insomnia is Purple Afgoo. “That will give you some quality time with your couch.”

Relieving pain or muscle spasms could require a stronger blend, Clark said. “If you cross a purple with a train wreck, you’re likely to get something very heavy.”

For Sara Romano, Space Queen is the best medicine for managing anxiety, stress and depression.

“I’ve gone the (traditional) medical route with these things, and I’ve tried different pills. They may help on one level but they do bad things to your body,” Romano said.

She quit the pills and now sticks to weed, along with therapy, she said. “The depression is under control. Anxiety is nonexistent.”

Having a safe, reliable — and legal — place to get her medicine has also been good for her health, she said.

More conservative clinics

Maine’s dispensaries will be modeled after California’s, but they clearly will be smaller.

Operators say they expect to start with a handful of employees at each site and that they expect to serve dozens of people a day instead of hundreds. Most project sales of $1 million to $2 million in the first full year of operation.

Along with a smaller population, Maine has far tighter limits than California on who can buy medical marijuana.

Anxiety and insomnia, for example, are not among the short list of conditions, such as AIDS and cancer, that qualify a patient to legally use the drug in Maine. A state commission can add new qualifying conditions over time, but access in Maine is expected to expand much more slowly in Maine than it has in California.

California’s access rules are so open now that dispensary employees know they are selling some pot to perfectly healthy recreational users.

But, just as at a pharmacy counter, it’s impossible to tell just from looking who is really sick and who is not, said Clark.

If a patient has a doctor’s recommendation, that’s good enough for him, he said.

Like Berkeley Patients Group and Harborside Health Center in Oakland, Maine’s dispensaries will blend into their neighborhoods and have plenty of security, operators said.

At the same time, the operators also say they plan to tailor the Maine’s new dispensaries to fit Maine’s rules and its more conservative culture.

“We are looking to be as good as Berkeley Patients Group and Harborside or better, and that’s the cream of the crop in California,” said Tim Smale, who is working to open a dispensary called Remedy Compassion Center in the Auburn area.

DUH. DEA "Very, very interested" in Oakland Mega-Farms

This article on the feds waiting to kick in the door of Oakland’s new massive farm applications confirms my suspicions. I believe I stood in the Oakland City Council Chambers twice and told them they have lost their minds. In a blog last week I went over in detail this likely possibility about why their plans suck. Now,in a NO BRAINER, the DEA is now poking their nose around. Can I please be the first sucker to throw a million dollars at a decade in prison. Oakland needs to scrap this idea before they put people in danger. The owners of the farm facilities and the people who work there will be a huge target. Good luck with that.

Feds Looking into Oakland Pot Law

Local officials field calls from the Drug Enforcement Administration

By: Kate McLean

The Drug Enforcement Administration contacted Oakland officials last week requesting information about a controversial ordinance to permit large-scale marijuana production in the city, according to aides to both the City Council and city manager.

The calls are the first indication that the federal government is closely monitoring Oakland’s efforts to position itself as a hub for marijuana commerce. The new ordinance, which was passed by City Council on July 20, allows permits for four marijuana factories capable of producing hundreds of pounds of the drug each year.

A November ballot measure, Proposition 19, will allow state voters to decide whether to legalize marijuana for recreational use. However, marijuana remains illegal under federal law, raising questions of whether the DEA will step in if Oakland attempts to significantly expand production.

A DEA official confirmed the calls were made.

DEA spokesman Rusty Payne said, “I will say this: We are certainly going to be very, very interested in any large-scale marijuana cultivation that’s going on.”

According to a memo released by City Council member Nancy Nadel, the Oakland city attorney’s office has expressed concern about the legality of the pot cultivation ordinance. A representative from the city attorney’s office declined to discuss the matter, citing attorney-client privilege. However, the city attorney’s signature was conspicuously absent from the ordinance. His staff typically signs off on city regulations after reviewing their legality.

If the plan is perceived by the feds as too far out-of-step with established state medical marijuana practices, it could trigger enforcement. But so far, federal agencies have declined to say what they will do when Oakland’s pot cultivation plants go online in January of next year.

Aides who said they were contacted by the DEA last Friday said agency officials appeared to be seeking information about the new ordinance but gave little indication of what they intended to do with it.

Arturo Sanchez, who oversees the city’s medical marijuana regulations, said he spoke to two DEA officials.

“My take on the conversation was that it was very positive,” said Sanchez, who recalled that the agents wanted to know when the facilities would open and asked for a copy of the ordinance. “I told them we wanted to make sure we have great regulation and are as above board as we can be.”

Ada Chan, a policy analyst for City Council member Rebecca Kaplan, also fielded a call from the DEA. Chan said that she explained the intention of the permits was to “get the cultivation out of residential areas” and reduce crime and electrical fires at illicit pot operations.

“I told him we’d send him over our stuff,” said Chan, “and any feedback they have would be appreciated.”