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Feature: Hundreds of Los Angeles Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Face Closure Under New Rules Passed by Council

The Los Angeles City Council voted 9-3 Tuesday to approve a medical marijuana dispensary ordinance that, if enforced, will shut down more than 80% of the city's estimated nearly one thousand dispensaries. The ordinance also bars dispensaries from operating within a thousand feet of schools, parks, day care centers, religious institutions, drug treatment centers, or other dispensaries.
medical marijuana dispensary, Ventura Blvd., LA (courtesy
There were only four dispensaries in the city when the city council first addressed the issue in 2005, and 187 when the council imposed a moratorium on new ones in 2007. But hundreds of dispensaries opened via bureaucratic legerdemain during the moratorium, and more have opened since the moratorium was thrown out by a judge last fall.

The ordinance allows for only 70 dispensaries to operate in the city, but grandfathers in 137 dispensaries that were licensed before the council imposed the moratorium and are still in business. The number of allowed dispensaries could shrink even further if suitable locations that do not violate the 1,000-foot rule cannot be found.

The Council rejected another proposal that would allow for a 500-foot proximity restriction, and instead chose the 1,000-foot restriction, without analysis from the Planning Department showing the impact of such a decision. Some Council members objected to these restrictions, indicating that the current ordinance would effectively close all of the dispensaries in their districts. Advocates estimate that dispensaries will be unable to locate in virtually any of the commercial zones in the city and instead will be relegated to remote industrial zones, making it unnecessarily onerous for many patients.

The ordinance, which emerged after 2 ½ years of deliberations by the council, will be one of the toughest in the state. In addition to radically reducing the number of dispensaries and strictly limiting where they can operate, the measure imposes restrictions on hours of operation and signage, bans on-site consumption, and imposes recordkeeping requirements on operators.

"These are out of control," said Councilman Ed Reyes, chairman of the planning and land-use management committee, which oversaw the writing of the ordinance. "Our city has more of these than Starbucks," Reyes added, resorting to an increasingly popular if misleading trope.

But, reflecting the competing pressures the council was under from medical marijuana patients, advocates and dispensary operators on one hand, and law enforcement and angry neighborhood associations on the other, Reyes spoke sympathetically about patients just moments later. "I've seen enough people come into my committee, and you can see they are hurting," he said. "So this is very difficult."

Council President Eric Garcetti conceded that the ordinance will probably be revisited. "It's going to be a living ordinance," he said. "I think there is much good in it. I think nobody will know how some of these things play out until we have them in practice, and we made a commitment to make sure that we continue to improve the ordinance."

It will need to be revisited, said medical marijuana advocates. "I wouldn't be surprised to see this ordinance revised down the line," said Dale Gieringer, director of California NORML.

For Americans for Safe Access (ASA), passage of the ordinance signified a glass both half empty and half full. "On the one hand, it's a pretty significant milestone that the city of Los Angeles, the second largest in the country, has passed an ordinance regulating medical marijuana sales," said ASA spokesman Kris Hermes. "On the other hand, the ordinance is so restrictive it threatens to shut down all existing dispensaries."

Hermes was referring in particular to the 1,000-foot rule. "This is the most restrictive ordinance in terms of where dispensaries can operate we have seen anywhere in California," he said. "In theory, the city will have somewhere between 70 and 137 dispensaries, but because of the onerous restrictions on where they can operate, those numbers are virtually meaningless. We could see wholesale attrition lowering the number well below the cap."

"This recapitulates the pattern we've seen in Oakland, San Francisco, Santa Rosa and other places," said Gieringer. "You have a period of laissez faire, a green gold rush. At first, nobody notices, but then all of a sudden it gets ragged around the edges and the complaints pile up. By the time it gets before local authorities, the neighborhood outrage is such that it is almost impossible to do anything rational. So the first thing they do is pass a very draconian ordinance just to make sure they get rid of the nuisances."

The LA City Council's years-long regulatory process probably contributed to pent up pressures to rein in the dispensaries, Gieringer said. "It's a shame LA waited so long to pass an ordinance -- cooler heads could have prevailed."

While Gieringer could live with geographic restrictions on where dispensaries can locate, the 1,000-foot rule is too strict and too inflexible, he said. "There's no good rationale for the 1,000-foot rule, but there it is. Our position is that dispensaries should be treated like liquor stores, which have to be 600 feet from schools and parks, but not churches. And variances are allowed, and that's important."

It's one thing to pass an ordinance. Enforcing it is another matter entirely. With as many as a thousand dispensaries scattered around the city's 469 square miles, and a lengthy process required to shut down non-compliant operations, it is an open question how many dispensaries will just quietly ignore the new law. Also, enforcement will not begin until the city comes up with funding to pay for it, which will be derived from fees extracted from dispensaries -- a process the city has not yet finalized. And the 137 exempted dispensaries will have up to six months to relocate if they have to move to comply with the 1,000-foot rule.

"They're going to have a hard time enforcing it, first of all," said CANORML's Gieringer. "They have a bunch of places to close, and that will be a slow and expensive process. Freelance places are likely to spring up," he predicted. "There will probably also be a rush to unincorporated parts of Los Angeles County, where there are no such restrictions."

What enforcement will look like is another issue. "The city will try to issue cease and desist orders and hope dispensaries voluntarily comply," said ASA's Hermes. "It remains to be seen whether that will be the case. Hopefully, they will use measures other than criminal enforcement. We don't want to see a return to the tactics of the past, where law enforcement would come in and conduct aggressive raids to shut those facilities down. We hope we can work with the council before that happens so we can avoid having to close them in the first place."

The ordinance will be challenged one way or another. ASA is seeking a compromise with the city council, and is pondering whether to take legal action. In the meantime, a group of patients and providers is also taking about a legal challenge and about a local referendum. Only 27,000 signatures would be required to get a measure on the municipal ballot.

Feature: Obama Nominates Drug Warrior Michele Leonhart to Head DEA -- Reformers Gird for Battle

The Obama administration announced this week that it is nominating acting DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart to head the agency. Drug reformers responded with a collective groan and are preparing to challenge -- or at least question -- her nomination when it goes before the Senate Judiciary Committee for confirmation.
Michele Leonhart
From a law enforcement perspective, Leonhart's career trajectory has been inspiring and exemplary. Growing up black in St. Paul, she developed an interest in law enforcement when someone stole her bicycle as a young girl. After graduating from college with a degree in criminal justice, she worked as a police officer in Baltimore before joining the DEA in 1980. She put in stints as a field agent in Minneapolis and St. Louis before being promoting to DEA's supervisory ranks in San Diego in 1988. She became the agency's first female Special Agent in Charge (SAC) there and later became SAC for the DEA's Los Angeles field division, the third largest in the country. She was confirmed as DEA deputy administrator in 2003 and named acting administrator upon the resignation of agency head Karen Tandy in 2007, a position she has held ever since.

But Leonhart's career has also coincided with scandal and controversy. (A tip of the hat here to Pete Guither at Drug War Rant, who profiled her peccadillos in an August 2003 piece). Her time in St. Louis coincided with a perjuring informant scandal, her time in Los Angeles coincided with the beginning of the federal war against California's medical marijuana law, and as acting administrator, she blocked researchers from being able to grow their own marijuana for medical research, effectively blocking the research. As head of the DEA last year, Leonhart (or her staff) spent more than $123,000 of taxpayer money to charter a private plane for a trip to Colombia, rather than using one of the 106 airplanes the DEA already owned.

While Leonhart's role in the persecution of California medical marijuana patients and providers is drawing the most heat, it is her association with one-time DEA supersnitch Andrew Chambers that is raising the most eyebrows. Chambers earned an astounding $2.2 million for his work as a DEA informant between 1984 and 2000. The problem was that he was caught perjuring himself repeatedly. The US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals called him a liar in 1993, and the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals echoed that verdict two years later.

But instead of terminating its relationship with Chambers, the DEA protected him, failing to notify prosecutors and defense attorneys about his record. At one point, DEA and the Justice Department for 17 months stalled a public defender seeking to examine the results of DEA's background check on Chambers. Even after the agency knew its snitch was rotten, it refused to stop using Chambers, and it took the intervention of then Attorney General Janet Reno to force the agency to quit using him.

Michele Leonhart defended Chambers. When asked if, given his credibility problems, the agency should quit using him, she said, "That would be a sad day for DEA, and a sad day for anybody in the law enforcement world... He's one in a million. In my career, I'll probably never come across another Andrew."

Another Leonhart statement on Chambers is even more shocking, as much for what it says about Leonhart as for what Leonhart says about Chambers. "The only criticism (of Chambers) I've ever heard is what defense attorneys will characterize as perjury or a lie on the stand," she said, adding that once prosecutors check him out, they will agree with his DEA admirers that he is "an outstanding testifier."

While Chambers snitched for the DEA in St. Louis while Leonhart was there and snitched for the DEA in Los Angeles while Leonhart was there, the exact nature of any relationship between them is murky. Reformers suggest that perhaps the Judiciary Committee might be able to clear it up.

Leonhart was also there at the beginning of the federal assault on California's medical marijuana law. She stood beside US Attorney Michael Yamaguchi when he announced in a January 1998 press conference that the government would take action against medical marijuana clubs. And as SAC in Los Angeles up until 2004, she was the ranking DEA agent responsible for the numerous Bush administration raids against patients and providers.

Her apparent distaste for marijuana extended to researchers. In January 2009, she overruled a DEA administrative law judge and denied UMass Professor Lyle Craker the ability to grow marijuana for medical research.

And it wasn't just marijuana. She was in full drug warrior mode when she attacked ecstasy use at raves in 2001, telling the New York Times that "some of the dances in the desert are no longer just dances, they're like violent crack houses set to music."

Drug reformers responded to Leonhart's nomination with one word: disappointing.

"It's disappointing that we didn't see anyone other than a career narcotics officer and DEA employee get the nomination," said Allen St. Pierre of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). "But considering that his choice is a groundbreaker at DEA, perhaps there is a certain degree of political correctness for Obama. Leonhart is acceptable to conservatives because she comes from the DEA ranks, and at the same time, as a black woman who has risen from street officer to head of the DEA, she is certainly heralded by many in the Congressional Black Caucus."

"What a disappointment that was," said Dale Gieringer, head of California NORML. "We've been waiting for change ever since Obama got elected, we're still sitting here with the same Bush-appointed US Attorneys, we were hoping at least he would appoint a new DEA administrator, but no. That really shows political cowardice at the top level, I think."

"We're obviously very disappointed about this," said Aaron Houston, a spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project. "She presided over the worst abuses of the Bush administration raids against patients and providers, she presided over some of the worst periods of activity in Los Angeles as Special Agent in Charge, she rejected the Craker application, she doesn't have a clue about the fact that the Mexicans are begging us to change our drug laws."

"The Leonhart nomination is very disappointing, but not surprising," said Bill Piper, national affairs director for the Drug Policy Allliance. "We need to use her confirmation hearing to get her on record as promising to abide by the Obama administration guidelines on medical marijuana enforcement. She may just be someone who goes along to get along, but it would be good to get her on record on whether the DEA is going to continue to waste law enforcement resources going after low-level offenders."

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) was more than disappointed by the nomination. "This nomination is disconcerting, to say the least," said LEAP media relations director Tom Angell. "It's hard to see how giving the DEA directorship to someone who went out of her way to block medical marijuana research aligns with President Obama's pledge to set policies based on science and facts."

One question for reformers is how much Leonhart was following her own lead during her career and how much she was just following orders. "Now that she will be a permanent agency head, maybe she can establish a clearer doctrine under this administration," said St. Pierre. "When she made her Craker ruling, she was operating under Bush doctrine. The hope is that now perhaps she will get in line with Obama and Holder's articulation of criminal justice and drug war priorities."

Reining in the raids on medical marijuana providers is one of those, St. Pierre noted. "Since last May's executive order on preemption and the October Justice Department memo on medical marijuana, it doesn't look like the DEA has really interfered very much with these dispensaries, especially in places like Montana and Colorado, where there were none and now there are hundreds," he said. "It looks like Leonhart has abated a bit compared to the marching orders she was under when she was first named acting administrator."

"It's possible she will change her tune on getting orders from above," said Gieringer. "I don't know to what extent she was taking orders from above on indefensible things like deciding to disallow the research at UMass."

Another question facing reformers is how to respond to the nomination. "We are contemplating how we are going to approach this," Houston said. "A lot of our members want us to ask senators to hold her nomination."

"People should try to stop it, but we shouldn't get our hopes up," said Piper. "Democrats are going to rally around the president, and stopping one of Obama's nominees may be too much for Democrats to do. But we can still campaign against her, and one of the great things about that is that you can use the campaign to box them in, to get them to promise to do -- or not do -- a range of things. For instance, when we had the campaign to stop Asa Hutchinson from being nominated DEA head, we got him to go on record in favor of eliminating the crack/powder cocaine sentencing disparity and diverting more people to treatment. Even if we fail to stop the nomination, it can still lead to good things. It's certainly worth launching an all-out effort. "

"Reformers should take the approach that a thorough hearing is called for," said Eric Sterling, director of the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation. "I don't know that they should argue she should be blocked, but that her role in these matters needs to be examined. That's a politically smarter way for us to approach her nomination."

Sterling expressed real concern about Leonhart's role in the Chambers scandal. "I hope that the Judiciary Committee looks aggressively at her career, and what role she may have played in promoting the career of this informant who seems to be a career perjurer," he said. "If her practice was to knowingly tolerate perjury and encourage the use of an informant who is a perjurer, she is not qualified to be head of DEA by any stretch. The danger of perjury and the overzealousness of being willing to tolerate it is one of the greatest dangers any law enforcement agency faces. Given the enormously long sentences that exist in federal cases, the risks of injustice are monumental," he noted.

"To the extent that she has a reputation on the street that she promoted or used a perjuring informant, that is a terrible signal within the agency -- if that is really the case," Sterling continued. "I think it is extremely important that the Judiciary Committee inquire into this before they vote on her nomination. I can only hope that the Obama administration has vetted her more scrupulously than some of their earlier nominees whose tax problems were either undiscovered or ignored. This is a much more sensitive position, and both good judgment regarding truth telling and punishing those who violate that trust by tolerating perjury are essential features of this job."

Another area for senatorial scrutiny is medical marijuana, said Sterling. "With respect to medical marijuana, I don't know that I would fault her given the position of the agency and the Bush administration," he said. "It would be an extraordinary DEA manager who is going to fight for medical marijuana within the agency and block raids recommended by Special Agents in Charge or US Attorneys or the Justice Department. Yes, there were some really egregious cases during her time in Los Angeles, but I'm not sure those got handled at the level she was at. This is another area senators would be justified in inquiring about. If the committee just rubber stamps this nomination, that's a mistake."

Sterling even had some questions ready for the senators. "One question to ask is what scientific evidence she would need to reschedule marijuana," Sterling suggested. "Another is what state actions would her agency honor and not carry out raids. And she could be asked why the DEA needs to be involved with medical marijuana in California, the largest state in the nation and one with a functioning medical marijuana law. Has the DEA so completely eliminated the state's heroin and methamphetamine problems that the DEA can now turn its attention to medical marijuana purveyors?"

Chances are that Michele Leonhart is going to be the next head of DEA. But she is going to be under intense scrutiny between now and then, and reformers intend to make the most of it.

Legalization: California Tax and Regulate Marijuana Initiative Hands in Signatures

The Oakland-based activists behind the Tax and Regulate Cannabis 2010 California marijuana legalization initiative Thursday handed in more than 700,000 signatures Thursday at county courthouses across the state. That number is well in excess of the 434,000 valid signatures needed to place the measure on the November ballot.
Richard Lee (courtesy
Advanced by medical marijuana entrepreneur and Oaksterdam University founder Richard Lee, the initiative would allow adults over 21 to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and have a grow space of up to 25 square feet without fear of criminal penalty. By local option, counties or municipalities could choose to tax and regulate commercial marijuana production and sales.

The initiative is one of at least three legalization initiatives being circulated in California this year, but it is the best financed and the only one to turn in signatures yet. A legalization bill passed an Assembly committee vote earlier this month before dying for the session. An April Field poll found support for legalization in California at 56%.

In an afternoon conference call Thursday, Lee and initiative campaign chief consultant Doug Linney said they hoped to raise around $10 million for the coming months. "We're working with Blue State Digital, Obama's internet team," said Lee. "If we get a little bit from a lot of people, we can raise that amount."

"We hope to raise $10 to $15 million to get our message to the voters," said Linney. "Between the cannabis industry -- it is California's number one cash crop -- and the national appeal of a movement like this, we're confident we can generate that money."

Nearly 80,000 Californians were arrested on marijuana charges in 2008, nearly 80% of them for misdemeanor possession.

Cannabis Cups Causing Controversy in Medical Marijuana States

Predictably, the trajectory towards more compassionate marijuana policies brings people out of the shadows to celebrate this unique and infinitely useful plant. Unlike other medicines, cannabis comes in a thousand forms and lends itself to inquiry and discussion comparable to that of music, art, food and wine. Mix in the fact that a lot of people are able to appreciate it openly for the first time in their lives and it should come as no surprise that they're organizing events to see who can grow the best stuff.

Such contests generated controversy this week, raising the question of whether medical marijuana patients might be enjoying their freedom at the expense of further political progress. In Colorado, an upcoming event prompted a critical editorial questioning whether a pot contest serves any legitimate medical purpose. Meanwhile, in Michigan, a similar event was shut down after law-enforcement officials questioned its legality due to the state's tight restrictions on distribution by caregivers. Despite overwhelming public support for medical marijuana, the idea of patients convening to consume large quantities of top-grade medicine seems a bit of a stretch for some observers.

Surely, we can expect more of this sort of thing, and I understand the enthusiasm for bringing together a community that's been forced underground for generations. But there's also a line that has to be drawn somewhere and those whose states are ahead of the curve should really consider the impact of their approach on those still fighting for reform elsewhere in the country. The example you set inevitably impacts the tone of the debates taking place elsewhere. The "lessons of California" have inspired much more restrictive approaches in subsequent medical marijuana states, resulting in fewer patients receiving the care and protection that they need. Yet the problem in California was never really the distribution of medicine to a large patient population, but rather the conspicuous magnitude of the cultural and industrial phenomenon that Prop. 215 became.

Obviously, to us at least, any difficulties adapting to the new reality of medical marijuana in America are to be blamed first and foremost on the drug war, the Feds, sometimes the press, and absolutely the local governments that failed to regulate the industry in the hope that it would just go away. But as decades of hysteria and injustice begin finally to subside, our work isn't necessarily going to get any easier. Pot-tasting parties are awesome, I'm sure, but they're awfully far removed from the professional advocacy that got us to this point and if they piss off even a few people, then maybe it's better to wait or just invite people you know.  

Marijuana remains illegal for healthy people everywhere in America, thus the examples set today by the medical marijuana community will inevitably shape the political landscape and determine the future of the movement for complete and permanent reform.

Ruining Young Lives for Marijuana Possession

Marijuana undermines academic performance, they claim, so the punishment for marijuana is that you're not allowed to go to school anymore:

Three Liberty High School students were expelled for possession of what police and district officials say they suspect is marijuana on Jan. 13, 20 and 21.School employees found a 15-year-old student in possession of a small amount of marijuana on campus Jan. 13.

School officials proceeded to ask questions about other students who might have marijuana on campus as well… [Issaquah Press]

Yeah! Get the kids to rat on their friends so you can expel as many of them as possible. Teach them responsibility by taking away the one responsibility they have. Make them be normal by separating them from their peers and leaving them with no one to turn to.

And if these kids grow up to be total losers, we'll blame it on the marijuana.

Coalition for Medical Marijuana--New Jersey, Inc.: February Agenda 2010

Monthly Public Meeting Agenda Lawrence Twp. Library (Mercer County) Room #2 Tuesday, February 9, 2010; 7:00 PM -- 9:00 PM 7:00 PM: Call meeting to order. Approve January 2010 minutes. Discuss: - The New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act was signed into law on January 18, 2010. Thank you to all the patients, activists and volunteers who made this possible. The law is scheduled to take effect in six months (July 2010). Emergency regulations are expected to be put out by the NJ Departments of Health (DHSS), and Law & Public Safety (LPS) in three months. No info will be available about how to apply for ID cards or how to become an Alternative Treatment Center (ATC) before that. - CMMNJ is committed to working for safe and legal access to marijuana for all qualified NJ patients. CMMNJ meetings will continue in 2010, same time, same place. - Public support at MS patient John Wilson's sentencing by Judge Reed on 2/5/10 at 9:00 AM at the Somerset County Court House in Somerville, NJ. Write to the judge asking for leniency. Write to the governor and ask him to pardon John altogether. Even State Senators urge Gov. Corzine to pardon him. - Recent events: Medical Marijuana Breakfast at the New Jersey State Nurses Association on 2/5/10 (8:30 AM -- 10:30 AM) with speakers Reed Gusciora (D-Prnceton), and Ken Wolski, RN ($30 members, $50 non-members). PhillyNORML Fundraiser at The Rotunda on Walnut St., Philadelphia on 1/29/10 at 7 PM ($5 cover). - Treasury report: Checking: $3,138.60; PayPal: $838.51. Please consider a tax-deductible donation to CMMNJ, a 501(c)(3) public charity, to fund 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. CMMNJ's scheduled meetings are Feb. 9, & March 9, 2010 (the second Tuesday of each 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. 219 Woodside Ave., Trenton, NJ 08618 (609) 394-2137
United States

LA City Council Approves Medical Marijuana Ordinance; Hundreds of Dispensaries Will be Forced to Close, Thousands of Jobs Lost

The Los Angeles City Council voted 9-3 today to approve a medical marijuana dispensary ordinance that, if enforced, will shut down more than 80% of the city's estimated nearly one thousand dispensaries. The ordinance also bars dispensaries from operating within a thousand feet of schools, parks, day care centers, religious institutions, drug treatment centers, or other dispensaries. The ordinance allows for only 70 dispensaries to operate in the city, but grandfathers in 137 dispensaries that were licensed before the council imposed a moratorium on new dispensaries. The number of allowed dispensaries could shrink even further if suitable locations that do not violate the 1,000-foot rule cannot be found. With this vote, the city council will effectively push thousands of dispensary employees onto the unemployment rolls. Look for a feature article on the council vote and its ramifications on Friday.
Los Angeles, CA
United States

Interested Nurses Political Action Committee Medical Marijuana Breakfast

Please join New Jersey State Nurses Association/Interested Nurses Political Action Committee at this important breakfast series event. NOTE: Last Chance to Register for NJSNA/INPAC Breakfast Series is 1/27/10. Hear directly from elected leaders who make decisions on the issues impacting your nursing practice. NJSNA will bring together top officials, committee chairs, and candidates for insightful briefings and question and answer sessions. Speakers include: Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D-15) Ken Wolski, RN Executive Director Coalition for Medical Marijuana-New Jersey, Inc. NJSNA Members $30 ~ Non-Members $50 *** Registrations will not be processed without proper payment. Pre-registration is required - there will be no on-site registration for this event *** Register online at
Thu, 02/04/2010 - 8:30pm
1479 Pennington Road
Trenton, NJ 08618
United States

NJSNA/INPAC Medical Marijuana for Breakfast - Registration Closes 1/27/10

Last Chance to Register for NJSNA/INPAC Breakfast Series...Registration Closes Wed. 1/27/10 Hear directly from elected leaders who make decisions on the issues impacting your nursing practice. NJSNA will bring together top officials, committee chairs, and candidates for insightful briefings and question and answer sessions. Date: Thursday, February 4, 2010 Time: 8:30 AM to 10:30 AM Session Topic: Medical Marijuana Location: NJSNA HQ - 1479 Pennington Road, Trenton NJ Speakers: Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D-15) Ken Wolski, RN Executive Director Coalition for Medical Marijuana-New Jersey, Inc. Price: NJSNA Members $30 ~ Non-Members $50 *** Registrations will not be processed without proper payment. Pre-registration is required - there will be no on-site registration for this event *** Register On-Line at
Trenton, NJ
United States

Nevadans for Sensible Marijuana Laws to Unveil New Ad Criticizing D.A. Gammick


January 25, 2010

Nevadans for Sensible Marijuana Laws to Unveil New Ad Criticizing D.A. Gammick

Ad Questions whether Gammick is Making Washoe County Safer by Punishing Adults Who Use Marijuana Instead of Alcohol

CONTACT: Dave Schwartz, NSML ………. 702-727-1081 or

RENO, NEVADA — Nevadans for Sensible Marijuana Laws will unveil a new ad Tuesday that asks Washoe County District Attorney Richard Gammick why he is against ending Nevada’s prohibition on marijuana. The ad will air Wednesday, January 27 on KRNV in Reno.

         “The ad we are unveiling Tuesday addresses a serious subject—public safety,” said Dave Schwartz, campaign manager for Nevadans for Sensible Marijuana Laws. “It does so by contrasting the fact that 25 to 30 percent of all violent crimes in the U.S. are alcohol-related with District Attorney Gammick's desire to focus law enforcement resources on adults who use marijuana, which is less harmful than alcohol and less likely to lead to acts of violence. In the end, we ask whether Mr. Gammick wants Washoe County to be safer.  This is not a rhetorical question.  We want Mr. Gammick to explain how punishing adults for using marijuana and steering them toward alcohol instead makes us safer as a society.

            “As a man with a long history in law enforcement—as well as many interesting life experiences—Mr. Gammick should appreciate the wide range of societal harms produced by alcohol,” Schwartz continued.  “From domestic abuse to assaults outside of bars to irresponsible and reckless drivers on our streets, alcohol use poses a serious threat to the health and safety of members of our communities.  In every way, marijuana is less of a threat to our communities.  Yet for some reason, Mr. Gammick feels that marijuana users are less responsible than alcohol users.”

         You can view the ad at:

         An episode of the television show “Nevada Newsmakers” featuring Dave Schwartz and D.A. Gammick is scheduled to air February 4.

         WHO: Dave Schwartz, campaign manager, Nevadans for Sensible Marijuana Laws

         WHAT: Press Conference Unveiling TV Ad Against D.A. Gammick

         WHERE: Reno Justice Court, Mills Lane Building, One South Sierra Street -- Reno, NV

         WHEN: Tuesday, January 26, at 11:00 a.m.

Nevadans for Sensible Marijuana Laws is a ballot advocacy group formed in Nevada to support a 2012 ballot initiative to tax and regulate marijuana like alcohol in the state.


United States

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