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Medical Marijuana Update

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #716)

Here's the latest medical marijuana news from around the country. There's a whole lot going on.


On December 30, a Marin County judge ruled that a Novato dispensary cannot be evicted. The landlord for the Green Door Wellness Education Center had sought to evict it, saying it had violated its lease in various ways, including allowing marijuana smoking on the premises. The judge ruled that the smoke complaints were the most serious violations but "were mitigated and can be further mitigated." But Green Door and the neighboring Green Tiger Collective still face problems with the city, which sent both of them cease-and-desist orders months ago and has a moratorium on dispensaries.

On January 4, the Arcata city council voted for a temporary ban on new dispensaries. The measure does not affect existing dispensaries, but it puts a temporary hold on processing applications for new medical marijuana cooperatives and collectives. Staff will return to the council with a draft moratorium. Also in Arcata, the Humboldt Medical Supply dispensary closed its doors after its landlord received a threat letter from federal prosecutors. Another dispensary, the Sai Center, also received a letter, according to owner Stephen Gasparas, who spoke before the council.

On January 4, outgoing Marin County Supervisor Susan Adams sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder opposing the federal intervention in California's medical marijuana program.

Last Thursday, a Humboldt County supervisor met with US Attorney Melinda Haag to discuss the federal crackdown on dispensaries. Third District Supervisor Mark Lovelace said he expressed his disappointment with the crackdown and urged Haag to respect local governments, who decide what is appropriate safe access to medical marijuana.

On Monday, dozens of people protested in San Francisco over the closing of the Market Street Cooperative, which has been operating since 1997. The dispensary shut down after its landlord received a letter from federal prosecutors threatening seizure of the property.

On Tuesday, Marin County supervisors sent a smoking ban back for a rewrite to make clear it does not include marijuana. The ordinance would largely ban smoking in apartments in unincorporated areas of the county.

On Tuesday, the Anaheim city council extended the city's moratorium on new medical marijuana dispensaries for another year. The unanimous vote came after council members said they needed more time to study the "legal complexities" around the issue. The city has had a ban in place since 2007. Anaheim's law was challenged in court by medical-marijuana patients who said it unfairly limited their rights guaranteed by state law. He lost in Orange County Superior Court, but the case is on appeal. Dozens of dispensaries that opened before 2007, when the city began its moratorium, are still open.

On Wednesday, in late breaking news, the DEA raided three San Diego-area dispensaries. No reports yet on arrests.


On January 3, the Boulder city council voted to enact an emergency moratorium on new applications for medical marijuana business licenses. The move came after a surprise request by City Attorney Tom Carr, who wants to review unintended consequences of rules the city adopted and who wants to see how a recent court case against the city by a dispensary operator shakes out. The moratorium will be in place pending a public hearing on February 7 in which the council will discuss a longer-term moratorium.

This week, two state legislators said they would propose a bill that would allow the medical marijuana industry to form a "financial cooperative" to provide banking services to medical marijuana businesses. The cooperative would work like a credit union, with membership limited to industry members. But it would be free of the kinds of federal insurance requirements that exist with banks and credit unions and that have made those institutions reluctant to work with medical-marijuana businesses. The bill is in response to federal pressure on banks that have led them to drop medical marijuana businesses. The two solons, Sen. Pat Steadman (D-Denver) and Rep. Tom Massey (R-Poncha Springs), said they would introduce the bill next week.


This week, medical marijuana bills were filed in the Florida House and Senate. This marks the second year in a row a bill has been filed in the House and the first time a bill has been filed in both chambers. (See our newsbrief on it here.)


On Tuesday, a medical marijuana bill was introduced in the state House of Delegates. Introduced by Delegate Cheryl Glenn (D-Baltimore),  HB 15, the Maryland Medical Marijuana Act, would create clear rules for qualified patients and law enforcement, and put in place a strictly regulated production and distribution system. HB 15 would also protect patients from housing and workplace discrimination, something that the workgroup failed to address.


On Wednesday, a Lansing medical marijuana dispensary owner was acquitted of charges he violated Michigan's election laws. Shekina Pena, 34, the owner of Your Healthy Choice Clinic, was charged by Attorney General Bill Schuette's office with trying to influence voters after he offered free marijuana to patients who registered to vote. A jury found him not guilty.

This week, an initiative campaign to repeal marijuana prohibition in Michigan, largely inspired by Schuette's antics and obstructionism, is gearing up for its signature-gathering phase. Read our feature article about it this week here.


Last week, two members of a family of medical marijuana providers were negotiating a plea deal with prosecutors, making it unlikely that a Montana court will ever have the chance to determine if federal drug laws preempt the state's medical marijuana law. Richard and Justin Flor face pot possession, distribution, and conspiracy charges after Montana Cannabis was raided last spring along with dozens of other providers. They had said they would challenge the charges, but now it looks like that won't happen.

New Jersey

On December 28, the town of Plumsted temporarily banned medical marijuana cultivation farms. The township wants time to plan where such a facility might be appropriately located. Plumsted is the third local government to ban medical marijuana cultivation, following Upper Freehold and Howell Township.

On January 4, the Westampton Land Development Board denied a permit for a medical marijuana grow and dispensary. The Compassionate Care Foundation, which had sought to locate the facility there, said it would appeal to state Superior Court. Only one of six care centers allowed under the New Jersey medical marijuana program has so far found a location.


On Monday, several dozen people protested in Grants Pass to protest what they called corruption in law enforcement when it comes to medical marijuana. They accused by name a Grants Pass detective and an assistant district attorney, saying they violated people's rights, falsified documents, and wrongfully submitted evidence. Police denied any wrongdoing.

This week, the US Supreme Court declined to hear appeals from two Oregon sheriffs of a state Supreme Court ruling that found they could not deny concealed hand gun permits to registered medical marijuana patients. The sheriffs had attempted to argue that to provide permits to patients would force them to violate federal gun laws, which bar controlled substance users from obtaining weapons. They lost in every court that heard the cases.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


nightflyer (not verified)

This week Tom Knollman introduced a medical marijuana bill - HB 1370 - in the Indiana House of Representatives. His cosponsor is Rep. Mike White.

Thu, 01/12/2012 - 8:04am Permalink
MICHAEL J PAGELS (not verified)

In reply to by nightflyer (not verified)


Fri, 01/13/2012 - 12:06am Permalink
DaveMan1950 (not verified)

I have been anti-DrugWar most of my life. What a dumb idea to try to enforce! I was just wondering if I could do a history search of last year for anything about Nevada and/or Las Vegas?

Thu, 01/12/2012 - 1:43pm Permalink
Jeff Brown (not verified)

Its time for all the states with medical marijuana laws to demand that the DEA remove marijuana from schedule I and those that have it in their own schedule I to remove it. Clearly marijuana has medical use and the scheduling should reflect that.

Thu, 01/12/2012 - 3:54pm Permalink
Craig J (not verified)

In reply to by Jeff Brown (not verified)

You are absolutely right!  It was placed on the schedule 1 list as a tactic by Harry Anslinger to promote "Reefer Madness Hysteria" and link it black Americans as a racist effort to say "it's what niggers who are depraved like to use as an effort to get funding for his department."  Fact #1: it is not addictive!  I have quit for weeks at a time whenever I want with NO ill effects. Fact #2: it is not a "gateway drug!  I, nor anyone else I know, has ever smoked it and thought, "Oh, now I want to try heroin and cocaine."  Fact #3: It doesn't cause people to become violent!  If anything, it has the opposite effect!  We all know it is people who are drunk on alcohol that start fights.  Everyone, please watch former DEA agent Barry Cooper's "Never get busted again!"  He will tell you the facts about what I've just said!  The government always tried to deceive the US people a multitude of political fronts, and calling marijuana a "Schedule 1 drug" is just another one of those deceptions!

Fri, 05/11/2012 - 12:07am Permalink

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