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On the heels of victory...

Dear friends:

Following the enormous victory for medical marijuana patients and their caregivers on Monday, a strong MPP champion on Capitol Hill, Congressman Sam Farr (D-Calif.), plans to introduce an important bill in Congress next week.

While the new Department of Justice policy creates a de facto protection for patients and caregivers who are "in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws providing for the medical use of marijuana," the Farr bill — which MPP staff helped write years ago — will codify this protection in law.

It will also address another injustice:  Currently, medical marijuana patients in the 13 states where medical marijuana is legal are barred from telling federal jurors that their use of marijuana was for medical purposes, even when state laws explicitly permit medical use. Congressman Farr's Truth in Trials Act would guarantee defendants in federal medical marijuana cases the right to explain that their marijuana was for medical use. And more importantly, defendants could be found not guilty if the jury finds that they followed state medical marijuana laws.
 
Will you please urge your member of Congress to co-sponsor this legislation? MPP's online action system makes it easy: Just enter your contact information and we'll do the rest.

This is such an exciting time for our issue. Thank you for standing with us in the fight.

Sincerely,

 

Rob Signature

Rob Kampia
Executive Director
Marijuana Policy Project
Washington, D.C.

P.S. As I've mentioned in previous alerts, a major philanthropist has committed to match the first $2.35 million that MPP can raise from the rest of the planet in 2009. This means that your donation today will be doubled.

Press Release: U.S. Attorney’s Announcement Brings New Hope for Medical Marijuana Bill in New Hampshire

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE           

OCTOBER 22, 2009

 

U.S. Attorney’s Announcement Brings New Hope for Medical Marijuana Bill in New Hampshire

Medical marijuana vote Oct. 28; poll shows 71% support

CONTACT: Matt Simon, NH Coalition for Common Sense Marijuana Policy…………………(603) 391-7450

CONCORD – Patients and their advocates received new hope Tuesday in their effort to pass a medical marijuana bill in New Hampshire.  The U.S. attorney for New Hampshire, John Kacavas, announced that his department will not prosecute seriously ill patients who use marijuana to relieve their suffering.

The statement from Kacavas came one day after the Obama administration issued guidelines to federal prosecutors and the DEA directing them not to expend limited resources prosecuting medical marijuana patients in states where doctors may legally recommend the drug.  Kacavas went a step further, telling reporters his office would not prosecute patients for possessing marijuana regardless of whether HB 648 passes or fails. 

When the bill was debated earlier this year, many legislators expressed concern that a New Hampshire law could not protect patients from federal prosecutions.  In light of Kacavas’ announcement, advocates say it is now clear that patients have nothing to fear from federal agents in New Hampshire.

“It’s great to hear that I’m safe from the federal authorities,” said 24-year old Clayton Holton, a Somersworth resident who suffers from muscular dystrophy and lost his ability to walk at age 10.  “Unfortunately, if HB 648 doesn’t pass, I’ll still have to live in fear of New Hampshire state and local police.”

A 2008 Mason-Dixon poll showed that 71% of New Hampshire voters support allowing seriously and terminally ill patients access to medical marijuana for personal use if their doctors recommend it.

Matt Simon, executive director for the NH Coalition for Common Sense Marijuana Policy, praised the announcement from Kacavas but pointed out that of the more than 800,000 marijuana arrests that take place each year in the US, 99% are made by state and local law enforcement officers.  “If legislators want to see some of New Hampshire’s most vulnerable citizens receive protection from arrest, there is no good reason left for them to vote against HB 648,” he said.

Cancer survivor Dennis Acton, a Fremont resident, also cheered the new development.  “It’s great to see the federal government finally acknowledging that states should be free to determine their own policies,” he said.  “Now it’s clear that the responsibility of changing this law rests with our own state legislature, and nobody else.”

The bill is scheduled for a final vote in the House and Senate Oct. 28.  Two-thirds majorities will be necessary to override Gov. John Lynch’s veto and pass the bill into law.  When the bill passed June 24, the House vote was 232-108 (68%) and the Senate vote was 14-10, only two votes short of the override threshold.

Location: 
NH
United States

Press Release: Patients Call for Medical Marijuana Bill in Light of New Federal Policy

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                               
OCTOBER 22, 2009

Patients Call for Medical Marijuana Bill in Light of New Federal Policy

Obama Announcement Clears Way for Massachusetts to Protect Patients; 81% of Voters in Favor

CONTACT: Bruce Mirken, MPP director of communications …………… 415-585-6404 or 202-215-4205

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS — The Obama administration’s directive to federal prosecutors not to prosecute medical marijuana activities that are in accord with state laws gives new impetus to the drive to pass a medical marijuana bill in Massachusetts, patients who have benefited from marijuana said today. Pending legislation, HB 2160 would make Massachusetts the 14th state with such a law. The bill is largely modeled on the successful medical marijuana law in Rhode Island, which has been in force since 2006.

         “I’m excited about this news from the Obama administration, which shows that the government is now willing to acknowledge that marijuana has legitimate medical uses,” said Marcy Duda of Ware, who suffers from chronic pain and debilitating nerve damage due to brain surgery. “I hope this sends a signal to our legislators that there is no reason not to move ahead with legislation to help seriously ill patients. I’ve tried prescription painkillers that are very addictive and just knock me out. Medical marijuana helps me get by.”

         A Suffolk University poll released in September found that 81 percent of Massachusetts voters support medical marijuana legislation. Full poll results are available at http://www.suffolk.edu/research/38128.html

         “Hopefully this will help reduce the needless stigma associated with medical marijuana use,” said Don from the South Shore, who suffers from a rare condition called cyclic vomiting syndrome and who asked that his full name not be used for fear of legal consequences. “It’s not about an excuse to use an illegal drug, it’s about people with cancer, pain, or other illnesses who don’t respond to other available medications. I suffered for years before I had any idea about medical marijuana. I’ve considered moving to Rhode Island so I could have safe access to my medicine and never have to miss work while bedridden with nausea and vomiting.”

         With more than 29,000 members and 100,000 e-mail subscribers nationwide, the Marijuana Policy Project is the largest marijuana policy reform organization in the United States. MPP believes that the best way to minimize the harm associated with marijuana is to regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol. For more information, please visit http://MarijuanaPolicy.org.

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Location: 
MA
United States

Poll: L.A. Voters Oppose Plan to Close Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                               
OCTOBER 22, 2009

 

Poll: L.A. Voters Oppose Plan to Close Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

Mason-Dixon Finds Only 14% Back District Attorney; 77% Want Dispensaries Regulated

CONTACT: Bruce Mirken, MPP director of communications …………… 415-585-6404 or 202-215-4205

LOS ANGELES — A new poll of Los Angeles County voters reports massive opposition to Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley’s announced plan for a wholesale shutdown of medical marijuana dispensaries, with only 14 percent backing Cooley’s effort. After Cooley made his statement, Los Angeles City Attorney Carmen Trutanich proposed an ordinance that would effectively shut down all dispensaries in the city.

         The survey of 625 randomly chosen L.A. County voters was conducted Oct. 19 and 20 by Mason-Dixon Polling and Research. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent.

            Asked whether they support or oppose California’s medical marijuana law, including patients’ ability to buy their medical marijuana, 74 percent said they favor it, with 16 percent opposed and 10 percent undecided. Following that question, voters were asked about Cooley’s assertion that all medical marijuana dispensaries in the county are illegal and should be closed. Asked, “Which of one these two alternatives come closest to your view: Prosecute or close all medical marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles County, or create and enforce uniform licensing requirements and regulations for the operation of medical marijuana dispensaries within Los Angeles County,” 77 percent supported regulation, with only 14 percent backing a large-scale shutdown.

            Support for regulating the dispensaries crossed all demographic groups, including a 62 to 30 percent margin among Republicans.

            In a third question, 54 percent of county voters supported “making marijuana legal for adults who are 21 or older, and regulating and taxing marijuana similarly to alcohol,” with 33 percent opposed. Full results of the poll are available at http://www.mpp.org/assets/pdfs/general/MPP-LA-County-10-09-Poll.pdf 

            “It’s clear that voters utterly reject calls for a wholesale shutdown of medical marijuana collectives and overwhelmingly support sensible regulation,” said Aaron Smith, California policy director for the Marijuana Policy Project. “Angelenos support patients’ right to obtain medical marijuana, and want them to do it through safe, regulated businesses and not force them to turn to street dealers, as Cooley and Trutanich would do.”

         With more than 29,000 members and 100,000 e-mail subscribers nationwide, the Marijuana Policy Project is the largest marijuana policy reform organization in the United States. MPP believes that the best way to minimize the harm associated with marijuana is to regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol. For more information, please visit http://MarijuanaPolicy.org.

####

Location: 
Los Angeles, CA
United States

Christian Science Monitor Thinks Arresting Cancer Patients Will Stop Marijuana Legalization

It's awfully hard to find anyone complaining about this week's big medical marijuana news, but the editorial board at the Christian Science Monitor has done an admirable job of summing up the case against medical marijuana in all its bitter incoherence:
The federal government has limited resources to fight drugs, and funds should not be wasted on prosecuting users and providers of medical marijuana who comply with state laws, the Obama administration said this week.

While this argument may indeed seem a sensible prioritizing of federal effort and dollars, the White House and the public should realize it comes with a cost.

That cost is Washington's tacit approval of state-sanctioned medical marijuana, which the drug's proponents will take as a green light to push even harder for their ultimate goal: full legalization of marijuana use and distribution.
That, right there, is everything you'll ever need to know about why anyone still opposes medical marijuana. It is not any more or less complicated than the fact that they're afraid of legalization and they won’t hesitate to throw seriously ill patients under the bus if they think it will curb our momentum. It's a motivation so selfish and shameful, we've rarely seen it acknowledged and its emergence now is really a remarkable testament to the vacancy of credible objections presently available to those seeking to undermine patient access.

What perfect irony that those who advocate arresting patients as a necessary means to prevent broader legalization would dare accuse us of exploiting the sick and dying for political ends.

Coalition for Medical Marijuana--New Jersey, Inc. October Minutes and DOJ Memo

Monthly Public Meeting Minutes

Lawrence Township Library

Tuesday, October 13, 2009; 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM

7:15 PM:  Meeting called to order.  September 2009 minutes approved.  Discussion:

Ø  Assemblyman and doctors support medical marijuana in New Jersey.  All three gubernatorial candidates said they support medical marijuana during their recent debateLibertarian candidate for governor also supports the bill.  See the excellent article in Inside New Jersey, “Medical marijuana bill gains momentum in New Jersey.” 

Ø  The New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act, which was approved by the state Senate in February, is due for a vote by the Assembly this fall.  Tell your legislators that you want the Senate version of the bill to pass into law.  This version does not contain the very restrictive changes to the bill that was released by the Assembly Health Committee.  See CMMNJ’s recent blog for talking points—but tell your story in your own words.  Don’t let a possibly unworkable bill pass into law.  CMMNJ working on postcard project.

Ø  Support multiple sclerosis (MS) patient John Wilson, who faces 20 years in prison for growing marijuana to treat his MS.  Wilson was forbidden by the judge to even mention his medical condition during the upcoming trial.  Wilson’s next pre-trial hearing will be on 10/30 at 9AM.  Also, a Warren County NJ mother, day care operator, and Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) president faces many years in prison after her September arrest for medical marijuana that she used to treat severe anxiety.

Ø  CMMNJ is scheduled to appear at the following upcoming events (volunteers needed):

·         10/17 & 11/21, 11:30 AM, Medical Marijuana Info Seminar, Collingswood, NJ Public Library (free);

·         10/19, 6:00 PM, Ocean Co. Community College Medical Marijuana Debate, SGA Room 100;

·         Tues., 10/20, 7 PM, NORML NJ Open Mtng., Dog House Saloon, 270 Pascack Rd., Wash. Twp, NJ 07676;

·         11/17 – 19, League of Municipalities Conference at Atlantic City Convention Center (set-up is 11/16).

Ø  CMMNJ representatives recently appeared at the following events: 9/13, Hamilton Septemberfest, Hamilton Twp., NJ; 9/19, Boston Freedom Rally, Boston, Mass.; 9/24-26, NORML Conference, San Francisco, CA.; 10/4 Lawrence Community Day, Lawrence Twp., NJ.; NY State Harvest Festival; 10/10,  Ewing Community Fest, TCNJ, Ewing Twp., NJ.; Wisconsin

Ø  CMMNJ raised $178 as a cause on FacebookSee Ken’s Facebook page & Facebook Friends of CMMNJ!

Ø  Treasury report: Current balances: Checking: $4974.21; PayPal: $436.19.  Please consider a tax-deductible donation to CMMNJ, a 501(c)(3) organization, to fund public education about medical marijuana.  Donations may be made securely through Paypal or checks made out to “CMMNJ” and sent to the address below.  Get a free t-shirt for a donation above $15—specify size.  Thank you for your support.

Scheduled meetings are Nov. 10, & Dec. 8, 2009.  CMMNJ meetings are held on the second Tuesday of the month at the Lawrence Twp. Library from 7:00 PM until 9:00 PM.  All are welcome.  Snacks are served.  The library is at 2751 Brunswick Pike, Lawrence Twp., Tel. #609.882.9246.   (Meeting at the library does not imply their endorsement of our issue.)  For more info, contact:

Ken Wolski, RN, MPA
Executive Director, Coalition for Medical Marijuana--New Jersey, Inc. www.cmmnj.org

844 Spruce St., Trenton, NJ 08648           

(609) 394-2137

ohamkrw@aol.com

Location: 
NJ
United States

DOJ Memo: Hands off medical marijuana users and caregivers

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 20, 2009 CONTACT: Ken Wolski at (609) 394-2137 DOJ Memo: Hands off medical marijuana users WHO: Attorney General Eric Holder WHAT: Announced formal guidelines for federal prosecutors in states that have enacted laws authorizing the use of marijuana for medical purposes WHEN: October 19, 2009 WHERE: Washington, D.C. WHY: For clarification and guidance to federal prosecutors in medical marijuana states. For the first time federal authorities have been instructed not to arrest or prosecute medical marijuana patients or caregivers in the 13 states with legalized access. In a major reversal from Bush Administration policy, the Department of Justice issued a memo today to prosecutors that stated: “As a general matter, pursuit of these priorities should not focus federal resources in your States on individuals whose actions are in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws providing for the medical use of marijuana. For example, prosecution of individuals with cancer or other serious illnesses who use marijuana as part of a recommended treatment regimen consistent with applicable state law, or those caregivers in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state law who provide such individuals with marijuana, is unlikely to be an efficient use of limited federal resources.” Full text of the memo is available on the Department of Justice Blog: http://blogs.usdoj.gov/blog/archives/192 CMMNJ welcomes this announcement from federal authorities recognizing the medical benefits of marijuana and upholding the rights of Americans to safely use marijuana under a doctor’s supervision. With New Jersey in the final legislative phase for The Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act A804/S119 this memo may serve to alleviate any outstanding concern of federal interference with our proposed state law. While the DOJ memo puts in writing statements made by Attorney General Eric Holder in March, it does not change federal law in any way. The memo is targeted to federal prosecutors in the states that have passed ballot initiatives or legislation allowing safe medical marijuana access. It urges them to use their discretion and allocate their resources appropriately, taking into consideration an individual’s full compliance with their state law. The memo was copied to all United States Attorneys, as well as administrators in the DEA and the FBI. Current legislation: The New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act A804/S119 has passed the Assembly and Senate Health committees and a Senate floor vote. The issue has received favorable editorials from most newspapers in the state. Now it must see an Assembly floor vote and may require an additional concurrence vote in the Senate. Recent polls show between 70% - 86% of New Jerseyans favor medical marijuana access. There is certainty bi-partisan political support for the bill, but passage this year remains far from assured. New Jersey would become the 14th state in the nation to legalize medical marijuana if it passes this legislation into law in the near future. More information at www.cmmnj.org CMMNJ, a 501(c)(3) public charity, is a non-profit organization whose mission is to educate the public about the benefits of safe and legal access to medical marijuana. For more info, contact: Ken Wolski, RN, MPA, Executive Director, Coalition for Medical Marijuana--New Jersey, Inc. www.cmmnj.org 844 Spruce St., Trenton, NJ 08648 609.394.2137 ohamkrw@aol.com media@cmmnj.org

Medical Marijuana Victory

You Can Make a Difference

 

Dear friends,

Today we have something huge to celebrate.

All your calls and letters to the White House this year have paid off: The Obama administration just announced that it's directing federal drug agents not to arrest or harass medical marijuana patients who comply with state laws.

Your determination to hold the administration accountable turned campaign promises into official policy. Congratulations! Donate now to turn this momentum into more medical marijuana victories.

The next step is to protect patients by making sure that states with medical marijuana laws also provide safe and legal ways for people to obtain their medicine.

We have a perfect chance to do that in Maine on Election Day. An initiative on the state's November ballot would create a legal, regulated distribution system for medical marijuana. 

We can reach 35,000 Mainers who support the initiative to make sure they cast their vote, but we need your help to do it. Will you make a donation to help us call Maine voters?

Raising $10,000 in the next week will allow us to conduct the outreach that could make the difference on Election Day. 

A victory will not only protect patients in Maine, but build momentum for medical marijuana efforts around the country. Please donate now and help us reach our $10,000 goal.

Sincerely,

Bill Piper
Director, Office of National Affairs 
Drug Policy Alliance Network

Yes, we did: Obama ends medical marijuana raids in 13 states

Dear friends: Ready for some great news? The Obama administration is directing federal prosecutors not to arrest medical marijuana patients and caregivers who are complying with state laws. On Monday, federal prosecutors, as well as top officials at the FBI and DEA, will reportedly be told that it isn’t a good use of their time to arrest people who use or provide medical marijuana, if they are complying with state law. This is the most significant, positive policy development on the federal level for medical marijuana since 1978. Under the Bush administration, the feds had continued to raid, arrest, and otherwise terrorize medical marijuana and their caregivers in the 13 states that have passed medical marijuana laws. This new policy is a major change. MPP was instrumental in obtaining a promise from President Obama during the presidential campaign that, if elected, he would halt these arrests. MPP was the only reform organization to testify on Capitol Hill urging the issuance of the guidelines and, later, was the only group to work with leaders in Congress to get a House committee to urge the administration to adopt the written guidelines. Our lobbyists have also been in contact with top officials at the Justice Department about the guidelines. We're thrilled to see this promise come to fruition, and I hope you’ll join me in celebrating this news -- some of the best we’ve had for medical marijuana patients in years. Thank you for helping to make this momentous change happen. And if you’d like to help keep pushing, please: 1. Use MPP's easy online action center to tell your members of Congress that you support this new policy. 2. Donate to MPP’s federal lobbying work here. Sincerely, Rob Kampia Executive Director Marijuana Policy Project Washington, D.C. P.S. As I've mentioned in previous alerts, a major philanthropist has committed to match the first $2.35 million that MPP can raise from the rest of the planet in 2009. This means that your donation today will be doubled.

DrugSense FOCUS Alert #417: Los Angeles Prepares for Clash Over Marijuana

LOS ANGELES PREPARES FOR CLASH OVER MARIJUANA ********************************************************************** DrugSense FOCUS Alert #417 - Sunday, 18 October 2009 Today the New York Times focused on the issue of medicinal marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles but also covered the growing battle over the dispensaries across the state. As stated in the article State Attorney General Jerry Brown's guidelines, which you may read at http://drugsense.org/url/kKMJR2lu, do "allow for nonprofit sales of medical marijuana" by cooperatives or collectives properly established in accordance with the state's laws. Letter writing activists may find targets for their efforts both in California and other states at http://www.mapinc.org/topic/dispensaries and articles about California marijuana issues at http://www.mapinc.org/find?115. ********************************************************************** Source: New York Times (NY) Copyright: 2009 The New York Times Company Contact: letters@nytimes.com Author: Solomon Moore LOS ANGELES PREPARES FOR CLASH OVER MARIJUANA LOS ANGELES -- There are more marijuana stores here than public schools. Signs emblazoned with cannabis plants or green crosses sit next to dry cleaners, gas stations and restaurants. The dispensaries range from Hollywood-day-spa fabulous to shoddy-looking storefronts with hand-painted billboards. Absolute Herbal Pain Solutions, Grateful Meds, Farmacopeia Organica. Cannabis advocates claim that more than 800 dispensaries have sprouted here since 2002; some law enforcement officials say it is closer to 1,000. Whatever the real number, everyone agrees it is too high. And so this, too, is taken for granted: Crackdowns on cannabis clubs will soon come in this city, which has more dispensaries than any other. For the first time, law enforcement officials in Los Angeles have vowed to prosecute medical marijuana dispensaries that turn a profit, with police officials saying they expect to conduct raids. Their efforts are widely seen as a campaign to sway the City Council into adopting strict regulations after two years of debate. It appears to be working. Carmen A. Trutanich, the newly elected city attorney, recently persuaded the Council to put aside a proposed ordinance negotiated with medical marijuana supporters for one drafted by his office. The new proposal calls for dispensaries to have renewable permits, submit to criminal record checks, register the names of members with the police and operate on a nonprofit basis. If enacted, it is likely to result in the closing of hundreds of marijuana dispensaries. Mr. Trutanich argued that state law permits the exchange of marijuana between growers and patients on a nonprofit and noncash basis only. Marijuana advocates say that interpretation would regulate dispensaries out of existence and thwart the will of voters who approved medical cannabis in 1996. Whatever happens here will be closely watched by law enforcement officials and marijuana advocates across the country who are threading their way through federal laws that still treat marijuana as an illegal drug and state laws that are increasingly allowing medicinal use. Thirteen states have laws supporting medical marijuana, and others are considering new legislation. No state has gone further than California, often described by drug enforcement agents as a "source nation" because of the vast quantities of marijuana grown here. And no city in the state has gone further than Los Angeles. This has alarmed local officials, who say that dispensary owners here took unfair advantage of vague state laws intended to create exceptions to marijuana prohibitions for a limited number of ill people. "About 100 percent of dispensaries in Los Angeles County and the city are operating illegally," said Steve Cooley, the Los Angeles County district attorney, who is up for re-election next year. "The time is right to deal with this problem." Mr. Cooley, speaking last week at a training luncheon for regional narcotics officers titled "The Eradication of Medical Marijuana Dispensaries in the City of Los Angeles and Los Angeles County," said that state law did not allow dispensaries to be for-profit enterprises. Mr. Trutanich, the city attorney, went further, saying dispensaries were prohibited from accepting cash even to reimburse growers for labor and supplies. He said that a recent California Supreme Court decision, People v. Mentch, banned all over-the-counter sales of marijuana; other officials and marijuana advocates disagree. So far, prosecutions of marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles have been limited to about a dozen in the last year, said Sandi Gibbons, a spokeswoman for Mr. Cooley. But Police Department officials said they were expecting to be called on soon to raid collectives. "I don't think this is a law that we'll have to enforce 800 times," said one police official, who declined to speak on the record before the marijuana ordinance was completed. "This is just like anything else. You don't have to arrest everyone who is speeding to make people slow down." Don Duncan, a spokesman for Americans for Safe Access, a leader in the medical marijuana movement, said that over-the-counter cash purchases should be permitted but that dispensaries should be nonprofit organizations. He also said marijuana collectives needed more regulation and a "thinning of the herd." "I am under no illusions that everyone out there is following the rules," said Mr. Duncan, who runs his own dispensary in West Hollywood. "But just because you accept money to reimburse collectives does not mean you're making profits." For marijuana advocates, Los Angeles represents a critical juncture -- a symbol of the movement's greatest success, but also its vulnerability. More than 300,000 doctors' referrals for medical cannabis are on file, the bulk of them from Los Angeles, according to Americans for Safe Access. The movement has had a string of successes in the Legislature and at the ballot box. In the city of Garden Grove, marijuana advocates forced the Highway Patrol to return six grams of marijuana it had confiscated from an eligible user. About 40 cities and counties have medical marijuana ordinances. But there have also been setbacks. In June, a federal judge sentenced Charles C. Lynch, a dispensary owner north of Santa Barbara, to one year in prison for selling marijuana to a 17-year-old boy whose father had testified that they sought out medical marijuana for his son's chronic pain. The mayor and the chief of police testified on behalf of Mr. Lynch, who was released on bail pending appeal. And last month, San Diego police officers and sheriff's deputies, along with agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration, raided 14 marijuana dispensaries and arrested 31 people. In an interview, Bonnie Dumanis, the district attorney for San Diego County, said that state laws governing medical marijuana were unclear and that the city had not yet instituted new regulations. Ms. Dumanis said that she approved of medical marijuana clubs where patients grow and use their own marijuana, but that none of the 60 or so dispensaries in the county operated that way. "These guys are drug dealers," she said of the 14 that were raided. "I said publicly, if anyone thinks we're casting too big a net and we get a legitimate patient or a lawful collective, then show us your taxes, your business license, your incorporation papers, your filings with the Department of Corporations." "If they had these things, we wouldn't prosecute," she said. Marijuana supporters worry that San Diego may provide a glimpse of the near future for Los Angeles if raids here become a reality. But many look to Harborside Health Center in Oakland as a model for how dispensaries could work. "Our No. 1 task is to show that we are worthy of the public's trust in asking to distribute medical cannabis in a safe and secure manner," said Steve DeAngelo, the pig-tailed proprietor of Harborside, which has been in business for three years. Harborside is one of four licensed dispensaries in Oakland run as nonprofit organizations. It is the largest, with 74 employees and revenues of about $20 million. Last summer, the Oakland City Council passed an ordinance to collect taxes from the sale of marijuana, a measure that Mr. DeAngelo supported. Mr. DeAngelo designed Harborside to exude legitimacy, security and comfort. Visitors to the low-slung building are greeted by security guards who check the required physicians' recommendations. Inside, the dispensary looks like a bank, except that the floor is covered with hemp carpeting and the eight tellers stand behind identical displays of marijuana and hashish. There is a laboratory where technicians determine the potency of the marijuana and label it accordingly. (Harborside says it rejects 80 percent of the marijuana that arrives at its door for insufficient quality.) There is even a bank vault where the day's cash is stored along with reserves of premium cannabis. An armored truck picks up deposits every evening. City officials routinely audit the dispensary's books. Surplus cash is rolled back into the center to pay for free counseling sessions and yoga for patients. "Oakland issued licenses and regulations, and Los Angeles did nothing and they are still unregulated," Mr. DeAngelo said. "Cannabis is being distributed by inappropriate people." But even Oakland's regulations fall short of Mr. Trutanich's proposal that Los Angeles ban all cash sales. "I don't know of any collective that operates in the way that is envisioned by this ordinance," said Mr. Duncan, of Americans for Safe Access. Christine Gasparac, a spokeswoman for State Attorney General Jerry Brown, said that after Mr. Trutanich's comments in Los Angeles, law enforcement officials and advocates from around the state had called seeking clarity on medical marijuana laws. Mr. Brown has issued legal guidelines that allow for nonprofit sales of medical marijuana, she said. But, she added, with laws being interpreted differently, "the final answer will eventually come from the courts." ********************************************************************** PLEASE SEND US A COPY OF YOUR LETTER Please post copies of your letters to the sent letter list ( sentlte@mapinc.org ) if you are subscribed. Subscribing to the Sent LTE list will help you to review other sent LTEs and perhaps come up with new ideas or approaches. To subscribe to the Sent LTE mailing list see http://www.mapinc.org/lists/index.htm#form Suggestions for writing LTEs are at our Media Activism Center http://www.mapinc.org/resource/#guides ********************************************************************** Prepared by: Richard Lake, Senior Editor www.mapinc.org === DrugSense provides many services at no charge, but they are not free to produce. Your contributions make DrugSense and its Media Awareness Project (MAP) happen. Please donate today. Our secure Web server at http://www.drugsense.org/donate.htm accepts credit cards and Paypal. Or, mail your check or money order to: DrugSense 14252 Culver Drive #328 Irvine, CA 92604-0326. (800) 266 5759 DrugSense is a 501c(3) non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness about the expensive, ineffective, and destructive "War on Drugs." Donations are tax deductible to the extent provided by law.
Location: 
Los Angeles, CA
United States

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