Wednesday, April 29, 2009

City counsel to act on dispensaries

remove the hardship provision from the Interim Control Ordinance (ICO),
which established a moratorium on new medical cannabis collectives in Los
Angeles in 2007. The hardship provision allowed collectives that did not
register with the City Clerk¹s office before November 13, 2007, to ask the
City Council for a special exemption from the moratorium. If adopted as
drafted, Councilmember Huizar¹s motion will prevent any new hardship
applications, but have no effect on the previously registered collectives ­
including 287 collectives with pending hardship applications.²

Oaksterdam on NPR

Oaksterdam University, the United States' only marijuana trade school, is the place where these pipe dreams are cultivated — and imploded.

Univeristy President Richard Lee often begins classes by warning, "People who think they can make a quick buck and get out of paying taxes, they go to jail."

At Oaksterdam, students learn how to cultivate, sell and use medical marijuana the "safe way." Because these activities are legal under California state law but illegal under federal law, the safe way essentially means learning to swim through a big gray swamp.

Not Your 'Average Stoner'

Located in downtown Oakland, Calif., in the heart of the medical marijuana district, Oaksterdam's main campus is really just a massive classroom with a small "grow lab" attached. The university also runs Blue Sky Coffee Shop, one of four marijuana dispensaries in the city; another coffee shop where one can legally smoke, but not buy, weed; a "gift shop"; and a sort of marijuana DMV, where one can get an official medical marijuana ID card. There's also a smaller satellite campus in Los Angeles.

Since the university was founded a little over a year ago, the weekend workshops ($250) as well as the semester class ($400) have all sold out, according to Ilia Gvozdenovic, Oaksterdam's chancellor. Lately, to meet demand, the school has been adding more advanced cannabis business and dispensary-management classes, he says.

At the end, students take a test and get a certificate.

"It shows that one is more interested in and serious about medical marijuana than your average stoner," Gvozdenovic says. That can be helpful for getting jobs in the industry.

Indeed, on a recent Saturday, the freshman class doesn't fit the half-baked slacker image painted by some initial reports about the school. The 60 or so students range in age from 20s to 70s. There's a handful of wild-haired, slow-talking hippie types, but overall the crowd defies generalization. During a break, an elegant 50-something blonde swaps growing tips with a tattooed Fabio look-alike. A trendy Asian college student chats about legal minutiae with a punk chick wearing alien earrings. Many of the professors wear suits.

While no one denies they are looking forward to the cooking class, it doesn't seem to be the focus.

"You have to know this stuff," says 21-year-old Andrew Macdonald of Sacramento, between sips of green juice. "I simply wanted to educate myself."

In March, his friend and medical marijuana doctor, Marion Mollie Fry was sentenced to five years in federal prison for conspiring to grow and distribute marijuana. The case was unusual, because, with just 100 plants, Fry's operation was relatively small compared to others that the feds have targeted.

"They set her up," Macdonald insists.

Indeed, local law enforcement officials had told Fry it was OK to grow a small garden, a fact that was inadmissible in federal court, along with other references to the state-defined concept of "medical marijuana."

Think Like A Laywer, Act Like A Drug Dealer

Throughout the day, a variety of marijuana experts take the stage, breaking down the history, legal hurdles and growing techniques, while offering both inspiring and cautionary tales.

Ultimately, the lesson seems to be that to successfully navigate the medical marijuana world, one must think like a lawyer while taking the precautions of a drug dealer.

"You control the facts that could end up in court," criminal defense lawyer Omar Figueroa tells the class.

Facts that wouldn't be problematic for a doctor who prescribes a federally recognized medication such as Prozac, for example, could be problematic for "medical marijuana." Call the cops in Berkeley or Humboldt to report stolen medical marijuana and they may help you get it back, explains Figueroa. Call the cops in a more conservative county, and a police officer may take out a search warrant on your home.

Though state law generally protects medical marijuana in the home and in the dispensary, it doesn't really account for transportation. Some cultivators choose to transport marijuana via bus or bicycle for this reason. Oaksterdam recently started a bike cab service around Oakland.

Figueroa offers some basic guidelines:

**Don't hire a felon to work in your dispensary, because the feds may pressure him or her to become a snitch.

**Though an armed guard may be a tempting way to ward off robberies, a firearm turns marijuana sales into a more serious crime under federal law.

**Keep marijuana far out of reach of children.

Valerie of San Cruz, who did not want to give her last name because her family is still dealing with legal issues, backs Figueroa up on this one during the break. When she got pregnant, she let her recommendation expire. Her son was arrested for an unrelated reason. The cops found a photo of a marijuana plant on his phone, got a search warrant for her home, found her medical marijuana stash, charged her with contributing to the delinquency of a minor and threatened to take away all of her kids.

"I didn't even get to smoke it," she says.

Thanks to a good lawyer, the charge was eventually dropped. Undeterred, she's got a fresh recommendation and plans to grow her own medical marijuana plants.

Riches Or Legalization?

After lunch, it's time for the legendary Dennis Peron. Introduced as "the father of the medical marijuana movement," Peron once ran for California governor on a "mandatory marijuana platform" — as a Republican — and co-authored Prop 215, known as the Compassionate Use Act of 1996.

Before the term "medical marijuana" even existed in the 1990s, Peron was running a huge medical marijuana club for AIDS and cancer patients. He's been to jail on marijuana charges dozens of times. Each time left him more passionate about his work, he says.

"In one year year, I had $51 million running through my hands. I never touched it," he says.

Like many in the medical marijuana community, his dream has little to do with money. "Marijuana will be legal in my lifetime. ... I feel hopeful that Obama will reschedule marijuana," he says, referring to the fact that marijuana is currently a Schedule I drug under federal law, the most tightly restricted category.

Indeed, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has said that he favors decriminalizing, though not legalizing, marijuana. The details of his plan are hazy, but Peron insists that reclassifying medical marijuana to a lower "schedule," along the lines of Codeine and Tylenol, is going to happen in the next year. (His fellow professors are far less convinced.)

Ironically, most growers don't want to see marijuana rescheduled, Peron confesses after class. Prices would plummet, meaning that as the dream of truly legal weed would become reality, the promise of marijuana riches would go up in smoke.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Cannabis and Swine Flu

for H1N1 Swine Flu and H5N1 Bird Flu in View of the Current Global

For Immediate Release, April 27, 2009

San Francisco, CA – Cannabis Science Inc. (NASD OTCBB: GFON), an
emerging pharmaceutical cannabis company, reported today on the
current state of development of its whole-cannabis lozenge in response
to Homeland Security Administration Secretary Janet Napolitano’s
declaration of a public health emergency to deal with the emerging
Swine Flu pandemic. The Company’s non-toxic lozenge has properties
that could alleviate many of the symptoms and harmful effects of the
H5N1 bird flu and H1N1 swine flu viruses, and has offered its
assistance to HSA today in a letter to Secretary Napolitano. The
Company has offered to produce up to 1 million doses of its whole-
cannabis lozenge, and provide them to HSA for distribution at cost.
Cannabis Science Inc., President & CEO, Steven W. Kubby said, "We have
the science and preliminary anecdotal results confirming the anti-
inflammatory properties of our new lozenges and indicating they may
present an effective and non-toxic treatment for minimizing the
symptoms and harm from influenza infections. Our lozenges appear to
down-regulate the body's excessive inflammatory response to the
influenza virus, which could reduce the deadly consequences of an
infection into something that is more like a common cold. Because of
my cancer and diminished auto-immune functions, even common influenza
is a deadly threat, and I’ve had incredible symptomatic relief with
the lozenge.”

Dr. Robert J. Melamede, Director and Chief Science Officer, stated,
"The influenza virus has a unique genetic make up that, in combination
with its replicative machinery, has an extraordinary capacity to
mutate. As a result, the high lethality of some strains can be
attributed to the resulting adult respiratory distress syndrome
(ARDS). ARDS is caused by an excessive immune inflammatory response
driven by Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF) that leads to the death of
respiratory epithelial cells and resulting organ failure.
Endocannabinoids are nature’s way of controlling TNF activity.
Existing peer reviewed publications have shown that phytocannabinoids
can prevent this cell death by mimicking the endocannabinoids that
nature has selected to prevent excessive inflammatory immune responses.”
Dr. Melamede, who is also a researcher and past Chairman of the
Biology Department at the University of Colorado Springs (UCCS),
cautioned, “Smoked marijuana will not effectively prevent the
excessive inflammatory response, despite delivering the beneficial
pharmacological agents, due to the irritating, pro-inflammatory nature
of smoke. In fact, I believe it will make things worse and should be
avoided by infected individuals."

Mr. Kubby added, “If a swine or bird flu pandemic emerges -- and
everyone seems to think that it is just a matter of when, not if --,
there is simply no time for the usual bureaucratic process. With
emergency government approval, we can legally access the huge supply
of medical cannabis available in California to produce millions of
life saving doses within a relatively short period of time.”

Dr. Melamede warned, "Based upon recent discoveries regarding the role
that endocannabinoid system plays in maintaining human health, we have
a unique solution to the looming threat posed by deadly influenza
strains that we believe, if implemented, could save millions of lives.
We will strive for an emergency review of our cannabis extract-based
lozenge because we believe its availability will prevent many of the
deaths associated with the hyper-inflammatory response associated with
known lethal strains of the influenza virus. Current anti-influenza
medications have a demonstrated decreased effectiveness against some
of these lethal variants. Mankind cannot wait for the emergency
situation to materialize. We must be proactive in gaining the
necessary governmental approvals to test, and pending the outcome of
our studies, produce our lozenge.”

Mr. Richard Cowan, Cannabis Science Inc., Director & CFO, who recently
spoke in Mexico City to a Conference sponsored by the Mexican
Congress, stated, “I believe the Mexican Congress recognizes that
doctors should be able to prescribe medical cannabis. We are prepared
to work with the government of Mexico to produce similar medical
cannabis products to help fight the outbreak there. We look forward to
working with Government officials, including Homeland Security to help
advance our treatments for these outbreaks in Canada, the USA, and
around the world.”

About the H5N1 Bird Flu and H1N1 Swine Flu Strains

The H5N1 bird flu currently has 63% lethality. A swine-derived H1N1
strain was responsible for 20,000,000 influenza associated deaths in
1918 (more than killed by World War I). The current lethal outbreak of
swine flu (H1N1) in Mexico has killed over 80 people and infected more
than 1,000 others. There are 20 confirmed cases in the United States,
with reports of infections in Texas, New York, Ohio, California and
Kansas. Additional reports identify “likely” cases in New Zealand.
The H1N1 Swine flu is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A
flu viruses. Human cases are uncommon but can occur in people who are
around pigs. An infected person, however, can transmit the disease to
another person. Symptoms include a high fever, body aches, coughing,
sore throat and respiratory congestion.

About Cannabis Science, Inc.

Cannabis Science, Inc. is at the forefront of medical marijuana
research and development. The Company works with world authorities on
phytocannabinoid science targeting critical illnesses, and adheres to
scientific methodologies to develop, produce, and commercialize
phytocannabinoid-based pharmaceutical products. In sum, we are
dedicated to the creation of cannabis-based medicines, both with and
without psychoactive properties, to treat disease and the symptoms of
disease, as well as for general health maintenance.

Corporate Contact:

Steven W. Kubby,

President & CEO

Cannabis Science Inc.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Marijuana has its day

Kitty Alvarado
Special to the Valley News
Friday, April 24th, 2009.
Issue 17, Volume 9.

'Four-twenty' may have started out as a '70s term that refers to the
code for the time of day teenagers would meet to smoke marijuana, but
today's 4/20 has turned into a holiday for those who want to make the
drug legal.

In Temecula outside Visions smoke shop, a small group gathered to
listen to music, barbecue and rally behind the cause.

Antonio Gonzalez, a young man at the rally who owns a medical
marijuana delivery service, said he sees firsthand what the drug has
done for people in pain.

Gonzalez said he's in high demand: "I have a lot of patients who
aren't able to operate motor vehicles - patients who really can't
even get out of their chairs and walk to the bathroom - they rely on

A patient in Lake Elsinore who suffers from muscular dystrophy, a
genetic disease that deteriorates the skeletal muscles, has tried
every medication for her condition and uses marijuana to get some
relief and independence, said Gonzalez.

"She really has no mobility at all [and is] unable to do things
herself," he explained. "[She] pretty much she needs to be helped
with everything.

"She's really etchy and shaky and cannabis slows her down and allows
her to do things herself that normally she needs help for."

California has been at the center of the controversy since 1996, when
voters passed a law making it the first state in the country to allow
marijuana for medical use.

Those with conditions approved by a doctor are issued an
identification card, which they can use to fill prescriptions at
dispensaries that began to pop up at strip malls throughout the state.
Over the past couple of years the Drug Enforcement Administration has
raided more than 80 dispensaries because the use of marijuana
violates federal law.

Those who need cannabis for what they say are legitimate medical
reasons argue that criminalizing the drug makes them feel ashamed.

One woman we met said that even though she has an ID card and suffers
from debilitating anxiety, she hides her marijuana use and didn't
want us to use her name.

"Some people in my family found out that I was smoking it and got
upset because it's illegal and didn't bother to ask if I had a
medical condition," she said. "Nobody else knows I have a card; I'm
afraid they would judge me."

"I'm a grown woman, not some kid that's trying to get high," she
added. "The card is my little secret."

Those opposing the legalization of marijuana say that making the drug
legal would make California's drug problem worse because it is a
gateway drug.

They claim that identifications are abused and that those who use
marijuana medicinally are only making excuses because they could be
using legal prescription drugs to treat their illnesses.

People who use the illegal substance to treat a medical condition say
marijuana was their last resort.

"I've tried everything for my anxiety - all different kinds of
prescriptions - and they kept upping the dose and nothing worked,"
said the woman who wished to remain anonymous.

Everyone who needs it for medical reasons should have the right to
use it just like any other prescription drug, she stated, but she is
torn about making it legal for recreational use.
"I haven't formed an opinion yet," she said. "I just don't know."

Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) introduced a bill in
February that would make it legal for adults 21 and over to use
marijuana like alcohol, with the same restrictions, and tax its
estimated $14 billion annual revenue.

Many say this makes sense for a state with a $42 billion deficit;
others say that money won't begin to repair the problems the
legalization of this drug will unleash.

Bill 390's March committee hearing was postponed but because, like
all bills that have a fiscal impact, if it doesn't get a date by May
1 it won't come up again until next year.

Assemblyman Kevin Jeffries (R-Lake Elsinore), who represents the 66th
District, said that if and when the bill comes up he will vote no.

"I don't think California needs more people getting stoned while at
work, driving or when caring for their children," he said.

For video on this topic, visit

Medical marijuana sales are not expected to sprout quickly

Justice Department's decision not to go after legal California
dispensaries is not seen as a broad endorsement, especially when
local communities ban or limit them.
By Catherine Saillant, Los Angeles Times
8:41 PM PDT, April 24, 2009,0,6883780,full.story

If Jeff Clark has his way, medical marijuana patients will soon be
able to buy pot from his collective in law-and-order Kern County,
known more for growing almonds than cannabis.

Clark, 55, a disabled veteran, thinks the time is right.

After eight years of raids on storefront dispensaries under the Bush
administration, Eric H. Holder Jr., the new U.S. attorney general,
has made it clear that the Justice Department won't go after
organizations operating under California's laws.

Kern County's Board of Supervisors and sheriff have agreed to lay off
too, as long as pot sellers adhere to the state's guidelines. Last
month, supervisors rescinded a de facto ban on pot dispensaries in
place since 2007.

"I'm very optimistic," said Clark, who plans to open facilities near
his home in Lake Isabella and in Bakersfield within the next few
months. "This could be the turning point we've all been waiting for."

But local government and law enforcement officials say that a more
lenient Drug Enforcement Administration is not likely to mean new
medical marijuana dispensaries will sprout like weeds. Kern County
authorities say that, even with their more relaxed approach, they
won't allow just anyone to open up shop.

"People think the DEA has opened the door to opening dispensaries
anywhere and any time, and that's just not true," said Kern County
Sheriff Donny Youngblood. "I will do my job irrespective of what the
DEA does or does not do."

Even medical marijuana advocates say cities and counties that view
medical marijuana with suspicion aren't likely to suddenly welcome
dispensaries. And they have plenty of tools to make life difficult
for potential distributors.

More than 100 cities and seven counties have laws banning
dispensaries, said Joe Elford, chief counsel with Oakland-based
Americans for Safe Access, a medical marijuana advocacy group. The
validity of such bans is being litigated in appellate courts, he
said. Still other cities and counties have limited the number of
operators or put temporary bans on new dispensaries. Elford doesn't
expect that to change soon.

"The DEA's new stance certainly sends a clear message to localities
that they should not be policing federal law," Elford said. "But that
remains to be seen."

Kent Johnston, 56, a retired Ventura County sheriff's deputy, got the
cold shoulder last week from the Westlake Village City Council when
he announced his intentions to open a medical marijuana dispensary. A
city attorney informed him that the city adheres to the federal view
that selling cannabis is illegal, Johnston said.

"I was not there to fight them. I was there to say this is going to
happen because it's legal," said Johnston, who worked 20 years in law
enforcement. "Wouldn't you rather have me, a retired deputy, running
one legitimately than someone doing it under the wire and causing
problems? But they treated me like I was foolish and trying to break
the law."

Much of the tension has stemmed from the conflict between state and
federal laws. Growing, selling and using medical marijuana is allowed
under California law. But federal law makes cannabis illegal.

Court battles and follow-up legislation in the 13 years since voters
approved Proposition 215 have reduced some of the confusion. Last
fall, state Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown issued guidelines to help
patients, sellers and local law enforcement agencies determine what
it takes to operate within the law.

The guidelines say that sellers must organize as not-for-profit
"collectives" or "cooperatives" to cultivate and distribute pot only
to members. Groups are required to keep detailed records, including
copies of each member's state-issued ID card and a doctor's
recommendation that marijuana will help relieve their medical

They also are not allowed to sign up members on the spot after a
quick medical interview, a guideline that has been widely ignored in
more liberal areas, including Los Angeles and Oakland.

The state guidelines make it easier for police to enforce the law and
make it less likely that collectives will be used as fronts for
illegal drug sales, said John Irby, former deputy county counsel in
Kern County.

"It's hard to be legal, and you do not make any money if you are
legal," he said.

California's cities and counties fall into three categories: those
that accept and even embrace medical marijuana, including Los Angeles
and San Francisco; those that adamantly oppose it; and those in

Ventura County is in the middle. The county doesn't encourage
storefront dispensaries, but it hasn't banned them either. Although
no storefronts exist in the county, marijuana patients can turn to
discreet delivery services advertised in a local weekly.

Undersheriff Craig Husband said his deputies follow the state
guidelines, but he acknowledged that the department suspects many
operations are fronts for illegal sales.

"The attorney general provided clarity, but I don't think it was the
answer law enforcement wanted to hear," Husband said. "There tends to
be criminal activity involved around these facilities. You have
others trying to burglarize or rob the facilities. There is a lot of
diversion of product for profit."

At least 111 cities, including Anaheim, Pasadena and Torrance, ban
medical pot sales altogether. Counties that ban sales are Amador,
Contra Costa, El Dorado, Merced, Riverside, Stanislaus and Sutter,
according to Americans for Safe Access.

Bigger cities, including San Francisco and Los Angeles, have plenty
of storefronts, some with smoking lounges and arrays of baked
marijuana edibles. Los Angeles County has more than 100 dispensaries
and delivery services. The city of Los Angeles has so many that in
2007 the council put a moratorium on new shops while it drafted an
ordinance, expected later this year, to regulate them. Applications
spiked last month after Holder's announcement of the new DEA policy,
city officials said.

San Diego County has been among the regions most hostile to dispensaries.

When the state passed a bill in 2004 requiring counties to issue
identification cards to qualified patients, San Diego County
responded by filing a lawsuit. Its court battle arguing that the ID
card program is preempted by federal drug laws has gone to the U.S.
Supreme Court, where it awaits review, Elford said.

In the meantime, the district attorney's office aggressively
prosecutes suspected violations, said Steve Walker, a spokesman for
the county's district attorney's office. "We have prosecuted cases
where essentially drug dealers have hidden behind these laws and run
these storefronts," he said.

In August, a task force made up of DEA and local drug agents raided
four San Diego marijuana dispensaries and arrested three people,
seizing 20 pounds of pot and marijuana-laced edibles. Those cases are
working their way through federal court.

Elford predicted that there will be far fewer federal criminal
defendants as the DEA's new stance is implemented. So-called DEA
landlord letters, which threatened landlords with forfeiture of
property if they rented to dispensaries, are also expected to stop,
he said.

But the bigger question will be whether localities follow suit by
prosecuting only violators of state law, advocates say.

"It's a little soon to tell whether there has been a significant
change of heart by locals," said Kris Hermes, an Americans for Safe
Access spokesman.

Johnston, the retired deputy, said he will continuing pushing
Westlake Village to allow medical pot sales. But it will be a
campaign of letters and public comments, he said, because he can't
afford attorneys to make his case in court.

Clark, the marijuana advocate in Kern County, said he is ready to
test the waters despite the risks. He was among advocates who
regularly approached the Board of Supervisors in the last year to
change its approach.

Patients who are legally entitled to use medical marijuana shouldn't
have to travel to other counties to get it, he said.

"I'm going to follow the law as written," Clark said. "If I go to
jail, then I guess our laws really don't hold up."


Marijuana prohibition is unique among American criminal laws. No
other law is both enforced so widely and harshly and yet deemed
unnecessary by such a substantial portion of the populace.

Police made about 870,000 arrests for marijuana in 2007 (the latest
year national data is available). Roughly 775,000, or 88 percent, of
those arrests were for nothing more than simple possession of small
amounts of marijuana. Millions of Americans have never been arrested
or convicted of any criminal offense except this.

Punishments range widely across the country, from modest fines to a
few days in jail to many years in prison. Even being incarcerated for
just one day can cause a person to get fired from his or her job. And
in today's economy, losing a job can lead to months of unemployment.
A parent's marijuana use can be the basis for taking away his or her
children and putting them in foster care.

It's no wonder that so many Americans support decriminalizing and
even legalizing marijuana. Seventy-two percent say that for simple
marijuana possession, people should not be incarcerated, but fined:
the generally accepted definition of "decriminalization." Even more
Americans support making marijuana legal for medical purposes.
Support for broader legalization is around 40 percent, although it
depends on how one asks the question. Support is around (and in some
polls greater than) 50 percent in some Western states and among
Americans age 18 to 30.

This is, in some respects, no surprise. More than 100 million
Americans have tried marijuana, including almost 60 percent of those
aged 45 to 49. The vast majority know it didn't kill them or anyone
else they know, or derail their lives, or even lead to regular use.
That includes three presidents in a row; Barack Obama, when asked if
he had inhaled, responded "I inhaled frequently" and "that was the point."

Critics say decriminalizing marijuana will increase availability and
use. Really? Close to 100 million Americans have already used
marijuana. Half of all teens try marijuana before graduating from
high school. Almost anyone who wants to use marijuana can do so now.
Moreover, studies around the world have found that the relative
harshness of drug laws matters surprisingly little. After all, rates
of illegal drug use in the United States are the same as, or higher
than, Europe, despite our more punitive policies. And 13 U.S. states
have decriminalized marijuana, but marijuana use rates in those
states go up and down at roughly the same rates as in other states.

Other claims by opponents of reform don't stand up either. The
Institute of Medicine and other research bodies have concluded there
is no evidence that marijuana is a "gateway" drug -- certainly no
more so than alcohol or tobacco. While some people use marijuana to
excess, most people who smoke marijuana never become dependent. And
unlike alcohol, no one has ever died from a marijuana overdose,
marijuana is not associated with violent behavior, and marijuana is
only minimally associated with reckless sexual behavior.

There are, of course, some risks associated with using marijuana.
These risks, however, should be weighed against the harms associated
with current marijuana policy. Every comprehensive, objective
commission that has examined marijuana throughout the past 100 years
has concluded that criminalization of adult marijuana use does more
harm than marijuana use itself, including President Nixon's 1972
marijuana commission, the National Academy of Sciences' 1982
marijuana report, and recent government reports in Canada and the
United Kingdom.

As drug war violence rises in Mexico and along the U.S.-Mexican
border, more and more policymakers are calling for a national debate
on reforming our country's failed marijuana policies. Many parts of
Mexico today are like Chicago during the days of alcohol Prohibition
and Al Capone -- times 50. The U.S. Joint Forces Command recently
warned that the Mexican government is in danger of becoming a weak
and failed state and could descend into chaos, which could cause
tens, perhaps hundreds, of thousands of Mexicans to flee into the
United States.

In the border city of El Paso, Texas, where several Mexican mayors
live and commute to work out of fear their families will be killed if
they live in Mexico, the city council passed a resolution in January
calling on Congress to debate drug legalization as a way of reducing
prohibition-related violence.

In February, the Latin-American Commission on Drugs and Democracy, a
high-level commission co-chaired by former presidents of Brazil,
Colombia and Mexico, called for a "paradigm shift" in global drug
policy, including decriminalizing marijuana and "breaking the taboo"
on open and robust debate about all drug-policy options.

The attorney general of Arizona, citing evidence that Mexican drug
trafficking organizations get 60 percent to 80 percent of their
revenue from marijuana, has suggested that national policymakers
debate legalizing marijuana as a way to cripple both Mexican and U.S.
gangs. Although he was careful to say he wasn't advocating
legalization, he nevertheless asked the right question: Should
marijuana be taxed and regulated like alcohol?

It's a question being debated almost weekly now on CNN, MSNBC and Fox
News. It's starting to pop up in congressional hearings, too. With
strong poll numbers in support of reform, rising state and federal
deficits, overflowing prisons, and a national security crisis on our
southern border, we may very well be at a tipping point on this
issue. Now is the time for policymakers, columnists and leaders in
both the conservative and progressive movements who support reform to
speak out.

Hundreds of thousands of Americans a year are arrested for marijuana.
Doors are kicked in. Children are put into foster care. Cars, houses
and bank accounts are seized without trial. Yet it's hard to find a
presidential candidate or Supreme Court justice who hasn't smoked
marijuana. Reform will happen. It's just a question of how many tax
dollars will be wasted before elected officials catch up with the
American people.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Lynch could get Jail term


LOS ANGELES -- Government lawyers asked a federal judge on Thursday
to impose a five-year sentence on the owner of a marijuana
dispensary, less than a month after Attorney General Eric H. Holder
Jr. announced that federal authorities would not prosecute owners of
medical marijuana shops if they complied with local and state laws.

But the United States attorney for the Central District of
California, Thomas P. O'Brien, argued that the dispensary owner,
Charles C. Lynch, had broken state laws because he was not a primary
caregiver to his customers -- a requirement under California law --
and provided no medical services beyond the sale of marijuana.

Judge George H. Wu, a Bush appointee who is hearing his first federal
case, postponed sentencing until June 11, by which time he will
receive final briefings from government and defense lawyers. Judge Wu
seemed inclined at times Thursday to hand down a lighter sentence
than the government was seeking but repeatedly said he was
constrained by federal mandatory minimum sentencing laws.

Mr. Lynch, who ran a small dispensary in the surfing hamlet of Morro
Bay, has become a symbol for the medical marijuana movement since his
shop was raided in 2007. A registered business owner, Mr. Lynch has
the support of the city's mayor and the city attorney, both of whom
testified on his behalf Thursday.

Medical marijuana advocates see the case as a test of the Obama
administration's policy of noninterference on state marijuana laws.
California is among 13 states that allow the cultivation and sale of
marijuana for medicinal purposes.

Mr. O'Brien said Mr. Lynch's dispensary attracted illicit marijuana
sales that took place near the business and involved employees and
customers. Prosecution documents said Mr. Lynch's dispensary had "a
casual, almost carnival-like attitude towards the use and
distribution of marijuana."

Mr. Lynch's lawyer, Reuven Cohen, said his client paid taxes and
followed California laws. Mr. Cohen argued that if the federal
government believed that Mr. Lynch had broken California laws,
prosecutors should have consented to have the case moved to state court.

"This is really a states' rights issue," said Mr. Cohen, referring to
Proposition 215, which legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes.
"We voted for this stuff, and for the federal government to do this
is undemocratic."

Mr. Lynch was convicted on five counts related to running a marijuana
dispensary, which is illegal under federal law, and selling medical
marijuana to customers under 21, who are minors under federal law.

The director of the Executive Office for United States Attorneys, H.
Marshall Jarrett, sent a letter last Friday to Mr. O'Brien guiding
him to seek a five-year sentence. Mr. Jarrett was the chief of the
Justice Department's ethics office until Mr. Holder replaced him
after accusations of prosecutorial misconduct in the corruption case
against former Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska.

Justice Department officials did not respond to an interview request Thursday.

Since the passage of Proposition 215 in 1996, more than 100 marijuana
dispensaries in California have been raided, virtually wiping out the
businesses in some places, like San Diego. But in other cities,
including Los Angeles and San Francisco, the shops have flourished,
despite occasional federal crackdowns during the Bush administration.

Kris Hermes, a spokesman for Americans for Safe Access, a national
medical marijuana advocacy group, said that about half of the raids
resulted in prosecutions and that about a dozen owners received
prison sentences.

Mr. Lynch said in a telephone interview that he would appeal his
conviction and accused Sheriff Patrick Hedges of San Luis Obispo
County of overzealous prosecution of the law.

"The local sheriff wanted to shut me down," Mr. Lynch said, "and I
don't think they appreciated me putting up a fight."

The sheriff's office did not respond to an interview request.

Kroger examing Medical Marijuana

Law Offices of William S. Kroger
Tel. 323-655-5700

Criminal Defense

If you or a loved one is currently being investigated or has been charged with a crime, call the Law office of William S. Kroger at 323-655-5700 for a consultation. The Law Office of William S. Kroger is available 24 hours a day 7 days a week to answer any questions you have regarding your case.

Examining Medical Marijuana that is returned to his client

With so many choices of criminal defense attorneys, it is difficult to decide which one is right for you. The Law Office of William S. Kroger will take the time to help you understand both your options and the consequences of your criminal charges. Because this may be one of the most important decisions of your life choosing the right attorney is critical. Call the Law Office of William S. Kroger and see what we can do for you.

An experienced attorney may be able to get your charges reduced and in some cases dismissed. Some of the typical cases we handle are:

State Charges
Federal Charges
Medical Marijuana
Possession of Marijuana/Paraphenalia

Mr. Kroger is an experienced criminal defense attorney. He has defended all types of cases from traffic infractions to serious felonies, and unlike many attorneys he has defended clients in many federal jurisdictions throughout the United States.

Mr. Kroger knows the alternatives for incarceration and how to work through the legal system.

Please contact the Law Office of William S. Kroger at 323 655-5700, 24 hours a day to schedule a consultation. Your freedom is worth it! Our fees are reasonable, we accept credit cards, and we offer affordable payment plans.

We look forward to hearing from you.

William S. Kroger
Tel. 323-655-5700
Kroger Law Group
420attorney Blog

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Teens Using Marijuana to Treat Health Problems

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It is a good article I suggest that you read it.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


WASHINGTON--The Supreme Court ruled that police couldn't search the
car of a person arrested unless the officer's safety was threatened
or there was reason to think the car contained evidence of a crime,
reviving a constitutional protection against unreasonable searches.

The court effectively closed a loophole opened in a 1981 opinion that
has been widely interpreted to allow police, without a warrant, to
search cars--as well as bags or containers within them -- when they
arrest a driver or passenger.

Tuesday's 5-4 decision scrambled the court's typical ideological
lineup, with conservative Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas
joining liberals John Paul Stevens, David Souter and Ruth Bader
Ginsburg in the majority. Dissenters included liberal leaning Justice
Stephen Breyer, conservatives Chief Justice John Roberts, and Justice
Samuel Alito, and Justice Anthony Kennedy, who has frequently cast
the court's deciding vote in other cases.

Writing for the majority, Justice Stevens cited one of the landmark
opinions of the court under Chief Justice Earl Warren, which held
that warrantless searches are inherently unreasonable apart from "a
few specifically established and narrow exceptions."

"Officer safety and evidence preservation," often significant
concerns during arrests, fall among those exceptions, Justice Stevens
wrote, so police can search areas of the car within reach of the
suspect for weapons or evidence. If they turn up evidence of a
different crime during such a search, it can be used against the suspect.

In the case before the court, Arizona v. Gant, the suspect, Rodney
Gant, arrested for a traffic violation, already had been handcuffed
and seated in the back of a squad car. Tucson, Ariz., police then
searched Mr. Gant's car, finding a gun and cocaine. Mr. Gant was
convicted of drug offenses and sentenced to three years.

The Arizona Supreme Court threw out the conviction for relying on
evidence taken in violation of the Fourth Amendment, which bars
"unreasonable searches and seizures." In upholding the state court,
Justice Stevens wrote that Mr. Gant offered no threat to the officers
and there was no chance the car contained evidence of the crime for
which he was arrested, driving on a suspended license.

The court has tended to give police wide leeway in searching people
during vehicle stops. In Tuesday's opinion, the justices reminded
police that such power has limits. Although the privacy interest in
one's car is lower than for a home, it "is nevertheless important and
deserving of constitutional protection," Justice Stevens wrote.

The Fourth Amendment was drafted to deny "police officers unbridled
discretion to rummage at will among a person's private effects,"
Justice Stevens wrote.

In dissent, Justice Alito wrote that police had come to assume their
blanket power to search cars upon arrest, and that the decision "will
cause suppression of evidence gathered in many searches carried out
in good-faith reliance on well-settled case law."

Today, police are "trained to search every car in which someone was
arrested, whether it was for a bench warrant or drunk driving," said
Harry Stern, a partner at Rains Lucia Stern in Pleasant Hill, Calif.,
who represents officers accused of misconduct. "I think the good news
from a police practices standpoint is that the ruling gives clear
guidance," said Mr. Stern, also a former police officer.

On Tuesday, the court heard arguments in another Fourth Amendment
case in Arizona, in which school employees strip-searched a teenage
student mistakenly suspected of hiding prescription medications in
her undergarments.

The justices previously have given public-school authorities license
to curtail First Amendment rights in an effort to discourage drug
use. While troubled by the student's ordeal, the justices seemed
likely to further limit students' Fourth Amendment rights. A decision
in the case, Safford Unified School District v. Redding, is expected
before July.

Support Charles Lynch in Federal Court

Court support for Charles C. Lynch on Thursday

Americans for Safe Access (ASA) Chief Counsel Joe Elford will appear on behalf of Charles C. Lynch at his federal sentencing hearing on Thursday, April 23rd to challenge the federal government's claim of state law violations. Even though defendants are prevented from using a medical marijuana defense in federal court, they can argue state law compliance at sentencing. ASA Chief Counsel Joe Elford will argue that Lynch in no way violated state law, something that U.S. Attorney Thomas O'Brien has alleged in his sentencing recommendations.

At Lynch's previously scheduled sentencing hearing on March 23rd, federal district court Judge George H. Wu asked for written clarification from the U.S. Attorney General as to whether recent statements by that office would impact Lynch's sentencing. In a brief filed Friday, U.S. Attorney O'Brien stated that "the Deputy Attorney General has reviewed the facts of this case and determined that the investigation, prosecution, and conviction of defendant are entirely consistent with the policies of DOJ and with public statements made by the Attorney General with respect to marijuana prosecutions." Lynch's sentencing, which was originally postponed until April 30th, was changed by Judge Wu to April 23rd.

What: Sentencing hearing for Charles C. Lynch
When: Thursday, April 23rd at 10:30 a.m. (come early to park and find the courtroom)
Where: Los Angeles Federal Court, 312 N. Spring Street, Courtroom 10

A bill to require random drug testing of CALWORKS welfare > recipients

> recipients will be heard by the State Senate Human Services Committee
> next April 29th. The bill would require every recipient who tests
> positive for illicit drugs, including marijuana, to submit to a year
> of forced treatment. It includes no exception for medical marijuana.
> Key Senators on the Commitee are Chair Carol Liu (D-Glendale),
> Leland Yee (D-SF), Elaine Alquist (D-Santa Clara), Abel Maldanado
> (R-Monterey) and George Runner (R-Lancaster).
> The bill is sponsored by State Senator John Benoit (R - Palm
> Desert), who carried a similar bill last year in the Assembly. It
> is co-sponsored by the usual gaggle of Republican ideologues, who
> think they are saving tax-payers money on welfare payments but are
> actually wasting it on an inherently flawed drug testing technology
> that wrongly treats harmless marijuana use as abuse, while completely
> ignoring the number one cause of drug addiction, alcohol.
> Ironically, by forcing medical marijuana patients onto other drugs,
> the bill could actually cost taxpayers money by forcing them to foot
> the tab for expensive alternative RX drug treatment (the state
> doesn't pay for medical marijuana expenses). Hopefully, Benoit's
> turkey will be killed in committee, as it was last year. In the
> meantime, constituents of the committee members are encouraged to
> complain to their state senators.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Mexico's Congress decides fate of legalizing marijuana

> merits of legalizing marijuana for personal use, a policy backed by three
> former Latin American presidents who warned that a crackdown on drug cartels
> is not working.
> Although President Felipe Calderon has opposed the idea, the unprecedented
> forum shows legalizing marijuana is gaining support in Mexico amid brutal
> drug violence.
> Such a measure would be sure to strain relations with the United States at a
> time when the two countries are stepping up cooperation in the fight against
> drug trafficking. The congressional debate ‹ open to academics, experts and
> government officials ‹ ends a day before President Barack Obama arrives in
> Mexico for talks on the drug war.
> Proponents had a boost in February when three former presidents ‹ Cesar
> Gaviria of Colombia, Ernesto Zedillo of Mexico and Fernando Cardoso of
> Brazil ‹ urged Latin American countries to consider legalizing the drug to
> undermine a major source of income for cartels.
> The congressional discussion takes on a subject "that had been taboo" in our
> country, said opposition lawmaker Javier Gonzalez, adding that his
> Democratic Revolution Party supports legalizing personal marijuana
> consumption.
> "What we don't want is to criminalize youths for consuming or possessing
> marijuana," he said.
> Calderon, whose six-year terms ends in 2012, has proposed legislation that
> would offer users treatment instead of jail time but stop short of
> legalizing or decriminalizing possession.
> In 2006, Mexico backed off a law that would have abolished prison sentences
> for drug possession in small amounts after the U.S. protested.
> "It's clear that a totally prohibitive policy has not been a solution for
> all ills," said Interior Department official Blanca Heredia. "At the same
> time, it's illusory to imagine that complete legalization of marijuana would
> be a panacea."
> Heredia urged lawmakers to keep in mind that drug use is rising in Mexico.
> She said the number of people who have tried drugs rose from 3.5 million in
> 2002 to 4.5 million in 2008, while the number of addicts rose from 307,000
> to an estimated 465,000.
> Mexico's drug violence has surged to unprecedented levels since Calderon
> launched a military-led offensive against powerful trafficking cartels in
> 2006. Since then, more than 10,560 people have been killed, mostly in
> violence between rival gangs.
> Lawmakers are not discussing a specific proposal, and the debate is not
> expected to result in concrete action. Lawmakers have said they want to hear
> various viewpoints before they begin considering proposed bills for
> legalizing marijuana.

Health Hazard Assessment of Marijuana

Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) is the lead agency for the implementation
of the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 (Proposition
65). The Carcinogen Identification Committee (CIC) advises and assists OEHHA
in compiling the list of chemicals known to the State to cause cancer as
required by Health and Safety Code section 25249.8. The Committee serves as
the State’s qualified experts for determining whether a chemical has been
clearly shown through scientifically valid testing according to generally
accepted principles to cause cancer.

Marijuana smoke will be considered by the CIC at its next meeting scheduled
for Friday, May 29, 2009. The meeting will be held in the Sierra Hearing
Room at the Cal/EPA Headquarters building, 1001 I Street, Sacramento,
California. The meeting will begin at 10:00 a.m. and will last until all
business is conducted or until 5:00 p.m. The agenda for the meeting will be
provided in a future public notice published in advance of the meeting.

On December 21, 2007, OEHHA requested information relevant to the assessment
of the evidence of carcinogenicity of marijuana smoke a chemical to be
considered by the CIC for possible addition to the Proposition 65 list. The
60-day data call-in period ended on February 20, 2008. No information or
data were received on marijuana smoke. OEHHA has prepared the hazard
identification materials for marijuana smoke and announces the availability
of the document entitled: “Evidence on the Carcinogenicity of Marijuana

Copies of the document are available from OEHHA’s web site at the following
address: The document may also be
requested from OEHHA’s Proposition 65 Implementation Office by calling (916)
445-6900. This notice marks the beginning of a 60-day public comment period.
Comments and supporting documentation may be sent to the following address
via mail or courier or via e-mail to

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Kroger Law Group

Kroger Law Group
Law Offices of William S. Kroger
Tel. 323-655-5700

Criminal Defense

If you or a loved one is currently being investigated or has been charged with a crime, call the Law office of William S. Kroger at 323-655-5700 for a consultation. The Law Office of William S. Kroger is available 24 hours a day 7 days a week to answer any questions you have regarding your case.

Marijuana consumers demand to pay taxes

$14 billion dollar check presented to US Treasury represents "tax and regulate" boost to economy

New York, NY: On April 15, better known as Tax Day, at 8:00 AM representatives and supporters of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), including the organization's national director Allen St. Pierre, will stand on the steps of the General Post Office in Midtown Manhattan and present a check for $14 billion to the US Treasury Department.


The check total is an estimate of what American taxpayers spend every year to maintain marijuana prohibition. According to the report "The Budgetary Implications of Marijuana Prohibition in the United States", Americans spend some $6 billion on law enforcement costs related to enforcing marijuana laws. Taxing and regulating the production and sale of cannabis like alcohol products would reduce these costs while raising an estimated $8 billion in new tax revenue. That's according to Nobel Prize Winner Milton Friedman and over 500 other accredited economists.

"On a day when so many Americans lament having to pay state and federal income taxes, we're representing America's millions of otherwise law-abiding cannabis consumers—as well as supportive non-consumers—who're ready, willing, vocal and able to contribute this huge sum to our struggling economy, while providing truly 'green' jobs and allowing police to focus on more important priorities," says Allen St. Pierre, NORML's Executive Director. "All we ask in exchange for our $14 billion is the right to smoke our pot responsibly and in peace—just in the same way as the millions of daily consumers of alcohol products in our country."

In Calif., Medical Marijuana Laws Are Moving Pot Into Mainstream

By Karl Vick
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, April 12, 2009; A01

LOS ANGELES -- With little notice and even less controversy, marijuana is now available as a medical treatment in California to almost anyone who tells a willing physician he would feel better if he smoked.

Pot is now retailed over the counter in hundreds of storefronts across Los Angeles and is credited with reviving a section of downtown Oakland, where an entrepreneur sells out classes offering "quality training for the cannabis industry." The tabloid LA Journal of Education for Medical Marijuana is fat with ads for Magic Purple, Strawberry Cough and other offerings in more than 400 "dispensaries" operating in the city.

Los Angeles officials say applications for retail outlets surged after Feb. 26, when U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. announced that the Drug Enforcement Administration will no longer raid such stores. Those pressing for change in drug laws regard the announcement as a watershed in a 40-year battle against marijuana's official listing as a dangerous drug -- a legal fight that, in California, is being waged on ground that has shifted dramatically toward acceptance.

All told, 13 states have legalized medical marijuana, a trend advocates credit in part to growing openness to alternative healing. As a "Schedule 1" drug under the 1970 federal narcotics act, marijuana officially has "no currently accepted medical use." But doctors have found it effective in reducing nausea, easing glaucoma and improving appetite and sleep in AIDS patients.

Marijuana use is widespread -- government surveys show that 100 million Americans have smoked pot or its resin, hashish, in their lifetimes, and 25 million have done so in the past year. Yet polls show that the public is still wary of legalization. As President Obama recently chuckled when asked about legalizing marijuana, "I don't think that's a good strategy to grow our economy."

But in California, pot is such a booming growth industry that lawmakers are being asked to consider its potential as a salve to the state's financial woes. Betty Yee, chair of the California State Board of Equalization, endorsed a bill in February to regulate the estimated $14 billion marijuana market, citing the state's budget problems. California currently collects $18 million in sales taxes from marijuana dispensaries, and Yee said a regulated pot trade would bring in $1.3 billion.

"I think the tide is starting to turn in terms of marijuana being part of the mainstream," she said. "The pieces seem to be falling into place."

In Los Angeles, Councilman Dennis Zine warned that half the city's sales outlets might be forced to close, but only to control the growth of what the city now regards as an accepted business. "We're not getting complaints about people smoking marijuana," said the retired motorcycle policeman. "We're seeing complaints about the proliferation of facilities. They opened up right down the street from my district office, in the same complex as a liquor store. Got the big green leaf in front."

The new reality can be disorienting. In Mendocino County, the heart of Northern California's "Emerald Triangle," marijuana farming has been openly tolerated since the arrival of counterculture refugees in the late 1960s. But elected officials say they are being forced to crack down on growers who offended neighbors with aggressive farming after medical marijuana laws hastened pot's shift from the black market to a gray zone.

"Prop. 215 opened up a new world for people who had been underground, " said Scott Zeramby, referencing the 1996 ballot proposition that legalized pot for medical users. By 2007, Zeramby's garden supply business in Fort Bragg was doing $2.5 million in business amid a land rush by new growers eager to cash in.

"Things were getting a little crazy, even out of hand," Zeramby said. "What happened? A critical mass."

At the other end of the supply chain, some 200 dispensaries have opened using a legal loophole in an L.A. moratorium on such outlets, some making only the thinnest pretense of operating as "caregivers, " the legal justification for providing cannabis directly.

"Medical marijuana, right here, right now," chants a barker on the Venice Beach Boardwalk, outside the doorway of the Medical Kush Beach Club. "Get legal, right now."

It really is that easy, the barker explains. Before being allowed to enter the upstairs dispensary and "smoking lounge," new customers are directed first to the physician's waiting room, presided over by two young women in low-cut tops. After proving state residence and minimum age (21), customers see a doctor in a white lab coat who for $150 produces a "physician's recommendation. "

Valid for one year, it is all that California law requires to purchase and smoke eight ounces legally.

"I told him I had problems with my knee," said Joe Rizzo, 31, emerging from an examination recently with a knowing grin and a renewed card.

Outside the Blue Sky Coffee Shop in Oakland, Ritz Gayo clutched an eighth of Blue Dream ($44) and tried to remember the nature of his complaint.

"Um, my back," said Gayo, 20. He went on to recite a partial list of symptoms suggested in newspaper ads: "Chronic back pain and the rest, like everyone else," he said. "Non-sleeping. Can't eat very much.

"That, and I love pot."

Sean Manzanares, 41, a hardware store manager who had no previous experience with weed, parsed the advantages of sativa strains for night smoking and an indica for morning. "It got me off some really intense painkillers that were screwing with my liver and all kinds of stuff," he said.

Ben Core, 41, an HIV-positive commercial insurance agent, said, "The usage effects are overtaking the political and cultural effects that have suppressed it."

In the Venice branch of Farmacy, an upscale dispensary chain, clerks wear hemp lab coats and direct customers to an array of products, including herbal drops for teething pain. "We refer to it as a gateway herb," said JoAnna LaForce, a trained pharmacist.

Oakland allows anyone with a medical card to cultivate 72 plants -- 12 times the number the state legislature suggested in SB 420, which passed in 2003. (Even the title of the bill could be taken for a knowing wink, "420" being subculture code for enjoying marijuana). The bill generously interpreted the ballot initiative, which allowed pot to be dispensed for "any illness for which marijuana provides relief."

Entrepreneur Richard Lee said he took the hint, building an downtown Oakland empire that includes two "coffee shops," a glass-blowing school, a gift shop, a studio union and, last year, Oaksterdam University. Hundreds of graduates now have diplomas certifying passage of "credible examinations in politics, legal issues, horticulture, cooking and budtending."

The neighborhood is cheerfully busy, with foot traffic heaviest around the Blue Sky dispensary.

"They blend in quite well. It's not what you would expect," said Gertha Hays, who owns a boutique next door. "You might think it's going to be drug dealers, all this and that. It's not like that. And there's no particular stereotype of who's a cannabis smoker. It's all types."

Some customers walk over from the Alameda County Public Health Department. There, for $103 ($51.50 if on Medi-Cal), residents can upgrade from a simple physician's recommendation to an official medical marijuana identification card, widely regarded as stronger protection against prosecution.

"The one thing that's really caused it to go from medical to pretty much all-out legalization is the doctors," Lee said. "They have realized you can't over-prescribe it. They've really taken the lead. Alcohol -- frat boys drop dead by the hundred every year. You really can't kill yourself with marijuana."

You can, however, disappear into yourself. In South Central L.A., two dispensaries stand on the block between the mayor's constituent services office and the Blessed Day Drug and Alcohol Treatment Center.

"They're stunting their growth. I'm not talking about height," said Andrew Brown, 60, a drug treatment counselor. "They're in a Rip van Winkle state. They don't even know it. . . .

"Legal? Okay, but they still going to come to us. Alcohol is legal."

Friday, April 10, 2009

Pot co-ops can take deep breath

Bay City News 4/10/09

Cindy Chew/The Examiner

Nonprofit medical marijuana dispensaries have "little likelihood" of being prosecuted by the feds despite a recent policy shift in Washington, D.C., a U.S. attorney said.

California's voter-approved Compassionate Use Act of 1996 allows seriously ill patients to use medical marijuana with a doctor's permission, but federal laws criminalizing marijuana make no exception for state laws.

While saying that nonprofit cooperatives are unlikely to be targeted, U.S. Attorney Joseph Russoniello — who supervises federal prosecutions in Northern California — maintained that a policy shift announced last month by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder would make little change in federal law enforcement in the area.

Holder said March 18 that the Justice Department now plans to target marijuana distributors that violate both state and federal law, and that "try to use medical marijuana laws as a shield" for drug trafficking.

But Russoniello told UC Hastings College of the Law students during a debate on medical marijuana Wednesday that Holder's announcement is not a "sea change."

Russoniello said the federal policy was, and remains, to "prioritize and focus on the entrepreneurs."

"If you're in the business of selling marijuana for a profit, you're in harm's way," he said. "I suggest to you that even if the attorney general had set no guidelines, we'd be doing the same things as before."

Russoniello's opponent in the debate was Joseph Elford, chief counsel of Oakland-based Americans for Safe Access, a national medical marijuana advocacy group.

"It seems odd to me that the federal government would be the adjudicator of whether a dispensary is violating state law" and then would have the power to prosecute in federal court, where the state law can't be cited as a defense, Elford said.

"The government's interpretation of state law may not be our interpretation of state law," he said.

Loveland shop to offer medical pot

BY DOUGLAS CROWL • Loveland Connection • April 10, 2009

LOVELAND - Loveland's first medicinal marijuana dispensary will open this week - more than eight years after Colorado voters legalized the drug for such use.

Rich Present, 37, and Drew McNeil, 33, plan to open Nature's Medicine today at 843 Cleveland Ave.

Along with selling marijuana, Nature's Medicine will provide a variety of alternative health-related services, such as low-cost acupuncture and massage, meditation, and a variety of herbs and supplements.

The business will also contract out for more intensive home care; and in August, a certified nursing assistant will join the staff.

"This will be a totally on-site thing," Present said, adding that the business will have professionals on hand for walk-in services aimed at patient care.

The store will sell smoking accessories and some clothing as well.

McNeil would like to see the business as a place people can visit for a variety of things, even for tea or fresh-squeezed juice, he said.

Still, the business likely will be best known as a marijuana dispensary, featuring a locked room where state-registered patients may purchase marijuana in a variety of forms, including budding plants, baked goods and in liquid form.

Present would like to create a cooperative of legal marijuana growers through Nature's Medicine to drive down the drug's price for medicinal users, he said.

"If we are not beating the street (value) for $300 (an ounce), then why should they come to us," Present said.

One ounce of marijuana at Nature's Medicine will cost between $250 and $300 and one-eighth of an ounce will cost $50, plus standard sales tax, Present said.

Colorado medical marijuana laws state that anyone registered to use the drug can grow six plants for personal use.

However, they also can designate someone as a caregiver to grow those plants for them.

As of February, about 6,800 Colorado residents have registered as medical marijuana users; 569 of them are from Larimer County, according to information from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

Larimer County comes in as the region with the fourth-largest number of people on the registry, behind Denver, Jefferson and El Paso counties.

Present and McNeil are registered users and caregivers for 20 patients.

Loveland police Sgt. Benjamin Hurr said police were consulted and this type of operation is a legal business as long as the business owners follow state and municipal laws.

Nature's Medicine is at least the second dispensary to open in Larimer County.

One year ago, Enerchi Healing Center opened in Fort Collins providing similar services.

"We've seen phenomenal success with our community," Enerchi owner Pam Fleming said, adding she has not had any problems with the Fort Collins police.


The door is locked and a closed sign has been hung directly below the
small placard announcing the North County's only medical marijuana dispensary.

Wishing You Wellness, located at the north end of the Evergreen
Shopping Center on Orcutt Road in Orcutt, opened its doors about two
weeks ago to very little fanfare.

However, word of the dispensary leaked out last week to mixed public
opinion and just as suddenly the pot clinic disappeared.

"One day they were here and the next they were gone," said Connie
Jones, owner of the Mutt Hut, a dog grooming business next door to
Wishing You Wellness.

Owner Carol Boston of the nearby Evergreen Video said she thought the
marijuana dispensary closed because there had been too much attention.

"The owner said it was because of the permitting process, but I think
it was just too much pressure," Boston said. "It's just sad because
people really needed it. Now they have to go back to driving down to
Santa Barbara."

The owner of Wishing You Wellness was told late last week that the
county Planning Commission would need to make a determination of
approval for the facility to begin operations, according to planning staff.

Since then, the property owners of the Evergreen Shopping Center
decided to terminate the month-to-month tenancy, said Dianne Black,
county director of development services.

It is a crime under federal and state law to manufacture, distribute,
dispense or possess marijuana, but the state makes an exception for
the use of pot for medical purposes with a doctor's prescription.

No one answered the door at the marijuana dispensary Wednesday and
the co-owner of the Evergreen Shopping Center, Paul Prather, did not
return several calls requesting a comment.

In the time since California legalized medical marijuana
dispensaries, several that were established on the Central Coast have
shut down after their operations were disrupted by raids by federal agents.

Last month, however, there was a significant shift in federal policy
toward medical use of marijuana. It was announced that the Justice
Department will no longer prosecute pot dispensaries that operate
legally under state law, an about-face from the policies of the Bush

However, several Central Coast cities, such as Santa Maria, Buellton,
Arroyo Grande and Pismo Beach have passed ordinances banning medical
marijuana dispensaries within city limits.


Holcombe Calls for Medical-Marijuana Dispensary in Chico

If Councilman Andy Holcombe (pictured) gets his way, the city of
Chico will begin working to make it easier to grow and obtain medical
marijuana legally, rather than making it harder to grow the herb illegally.

That was his response at the council meeting Tuesday (April 7) to a
request, contained in an e-mail message from Chico native Michelle
Cooper, that the city enact a public-nuisance ordinance prohibiting
the outdoor cultivation of medical marijuana. Cooper complained that
the plants growing in a back yard two houses down from hers were so
large she could see them and that they gave off an "intense" smell.

Holcombe suggested it was more complicated than just prohibiting
outdoor growing and merited exploration of all the possibilities,
including making medpot more available for legitimate users, perhaps
in a dispensary. That way it could bring in tax revenues, he said.

Councilman Larry Wahl quipped, "That could make a good marketing
tool: 'Need dope? Come to Chico!' "

The council referred the matter to its Internal Affairs Committee.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Cathedral City Moratorium on pot dispensaries loses council vote

Rasha Aly • The Desert Sun • April 9, 2009

An “urgency†interim ordinance to establish a moratorium on medical
marijuana dispensaries failed 3-2 Wednesday during Cathedral City's City
Council meeting.

Then, Councilman Greg Pettis brought forth a motion for city staff to write
an ordinance within 60 days to regulate medical marijuana dispensaries. It
also failed 3 to 2.

Now, council members are waiting for a report from City Attorney Charles
Green to see if they can vote on another moratorium on medical marijuana
dispensaries without the “urgency†label, which requires a super-majority
vote of 4-1 to pass. Without it, a majority of 3-2 would be enough to

Pettis described the two no votes as a waste of time.

If the urgency interim ordinance had succeeded, it would have led to a
moratorium on the establishment of medical marijuana dispensaries and the
distribution of medical marijuana at existing businesses in Cathedral City.
The moratorium would have expired May 23.

No rush

Both Pettis and Councilman Paul Marchand, who voted against the urgency
ordinance, said they saw no reason to be in a hurry.

“We've been discussing this for so long, there's been ample time to get this
done,†said Marchand. He said he has no problem coming up with regulations
on marijuana.

However, Marchand, who also voted for Pettis' motion, worried that putting a
moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries would prolong the issue too
long because council members could extend the moratorium if staff did not
come up with a resolution by the moratorium's expiration date.

Mayor Pro Tem Charles “Bud†England said he wanted to give city staff as
much time as it needs to create an ordinance.

“To force staff to shoestring an ordinance is unacceptable,†England said.

Unlike other valley cities, Cathedral City has no ordinance in the law books
to regulate medical marijuana.

Coachella and Desert Hot Springs have moratoriums, while Indian Wells,
Indio, La Quinta and Palm Desert passed dispensary bans, according to
previous Desert Sun reports. Riverside County also has a ban in force for
unincorporated areas.

In March, the Palm Springs City Council passed an ordinance which allows for
only two medicinal marijuana dispensaries to operate in the city. Those
dispensaries must be located in an industrial or industrial-commercial zone.

City concerned

According to a Cathedral City staff report, city officials are concerned the
heavy regulations adopted by neighboring cities in regulating medical
marijuana dispensaries would prompt some dispensaries to relocate to
Cathedral City. To give staff time to study the issue and enact regulations,
the staff wanted the City Council to adopt an ordinance.

Federal ruling on marijuana may have local implications

By Stephanie Bertholdo and Sylvie Belmond Acorn staff writers

Now that the discrepancy between federal and state medical marijuana laws has been resolved, cities throughout California are reexamining their stance on whether to allow local cannabis clubs.

United States Attorney General Eric Holder announced March 18 that medical marijuana dispensaries permitted under state law would no longer be prosecuted, but according to a recent survey of mayors and other city officials, cannabis clubs in Moorpark, Camarillo and the Conejo and Simi valleys are still not welcome.

Following the 1996 California law that decriminalized the use of medical marijuana, many local cities passed moratoriums outlawing the cannabis clubs in support of the federal government's antidrug stance.

Officials said the local prohibitions would likely remain in effect. Under California law, cities retain the right to prohibit certain businesses if they choose.

Agoura Hills Mayor Denis Weber said he was disappointed in Washington's decision to soften its stance on medical marijuana.

Thousand Oaks Mayor Tom Glancy said the use of medical marijuana may be beneficial, but that it was "far too easy to misuse."

Despite the recent federal ruling, Calabasas Mayor Jon Wolfson said his city is proposing a new ban on medical marijuana facilities.

"This is based on past public testimony at both the (Calabasas) Public Safety Commission and the Planning Commission concerning crime and safety concerns associated with such facilities," Wolfson said. "Not speaking on behalf of the council but speaking personally, I would not support legalizing marijuana for the purposes of additional tax revenue to the city."

Moorpark Mayor Janice Parvin said her city's moratorium on pot dispensaries will likely continue.

"Studies show that they attract more crimes," Parvin said.

Camarillo's moratorium on dispensaries is coming to an end July 8, but attorney Brian Pierik said the City Council may extend the moratorium for another year. The temporary ban on Camarillo pot clubs was passed because the city's municipal code didn't address the matter, he said.

Pierik pointed out that the federal government's promise not to raid California dispensaries doesn't make pot entirely legal.

"It's still against federal law," he said. "The fact that the federal government may not enforce the law doesn't mean it's not still a law."

Only Westlake Village has taken a less punitive stance.

Mayor Robert Slavin said a marijuana dispensary could "potentially move in" as long as it complied with Westlake ordinances.

"I am a firm believer in state rights," Slavin said. "Any time the federal government relinquishes power to the state, it's a good thing."

While Slavin sees the benefits of medical marijuana for people with cancer and other serious illnesses, he said he has "misgivings" about legalizing pot for all Californians. He fears it would usher in a "whole host of issues."

Tax issue remains cloudy

The debate over marijuana is about to widen.

If the California Legislature passes Assembly Bill 390, the possession, sale and cultivation of marijuana will become legal in California. The bill would open the door for pot to be taxed, which could produce windfall revenues at a time when governments are struggling to keep finances in tact.

"Certainly the legislature is trying to be creative, but there's got to be other ways than that," Parvin said.

Glancy agreed.

"That's not the way I want to fill our coffers," Glancy said.

Simi Valley Mayor Paul Miller, the city's former chief of police, thinks the proposal to legalize and tax cannabis is "absurd." He said state leaders appear to be doing things "backwards."

"If the state had been doing its job all along, we wouldn't be in this fix," Miller said regarding the budget crisis.

Simi has a moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries, and Miller doesn't envision a change, regardless of the federal ruling prohibiting raids on legal outlets.

"Legalizing marijuana won't fix the budget problems," said Assemblymember Audra Strickland (R-Thousand Oaks). "We also need to consider the consequences that legalizing this drug would have on our children," she said.

But Moorpark City Council member Roseann Mikos thinks it's time that a marijuana tax be considered. She compared the pot issue to prohibition in the 1920s, when alcohol was outlawed.

"The prohibition was a complete failure," Mikos said. "All it did was increase organized crime."

License to carry

Police officers in Moorpark often meet people—mostly college students—who are carrying medical marijuana cards, said Moorpark Police Capt. Ron Nelson.

When someone possesses a card and they have a small amount of marijuana, officers "pretty much send them on their way," Nelson said. "It just depends on the amount they have. If it's more than obvious personal use, they're subject to arrest," he said.

Nelson was critical of the ease in which people who aren't sick can obtain a medical marijuana card.

"(It is) frustrating for officers because they can see through the whole thing. The vast majority of card holders are people who just want to use marijuana for purposes other than medicinal."

As for the legalization and taxing of cannabis, Nelson doesn't endorse the idea.

"Overall the use of marijuana is dangerous," he said. "It's addictive and leads to the use of other drugs." But if marijuana eventually becomes legal in California, Moorpark police officers will follow the law, he said.

fighter says smoking marijuana is part of his plan

He says it helps him be 'more consistent about everything.'

By Lance Pugmire

April 9, 2009

For mainstream sports fans thirsting for an athlete to come completely clean about taboo subjects in sports, here's an introduction to mixed martial arts fighter Nick Diaz, who not only speaks openly but is willing to answer follow-up questions.

"I'm more consistent about everything being a cannabis user," Diaz said in an interview with The Times last week. "I'm happy to get loaded, hear some good music . . . I remain consistent. And I have an easy way to deal with [the drug tests].

"I can pass a drug test in eight days with herbal cleansers. I drink 10 pounds of water and sweat out 10 pounds of water every day. I'll be fine."

Stockton's Diaz, 25, is pitted against MMA veteran Frank Shamrock on Saturday night in San Jose in the main event of the first Strikeforce card on Showtime since the former promotional organization Elite XC folded last year.

Strikeforce inherited much of the Elite XC roster, and Shamrock-Diaz will be a 179-pound catchweight bout as Shamrock moves down from 185 and Diaz moves up from 160.

"This is a super important fight -- for Showtime to show the MMA world there's a clear alternative to the UFC -- and that's exactly why you're seeing this matchup of exciting, forward-moving fighters who bang," Shamrock, 36, said. "I respect [Diaz's] talent, he brings it."

What Diaz brings beyond flying fists and the ability to shut off a foe's breathing by holding the opponent's throat against his bottom leg is unbending honesty about his marijuana use, his frustration with his former bosses at the Ultimate Fighting Championship and his belief that steroids are pervasive in his sport.

"Let 'em do it, they'll have a shorter career than me," said Diaz (18-7 with 10 knockouts, five submissions and a no-contest). "With all that wear and tear on their tendons, something's going to explode. I feel like these guys are hurting themselves. You can't consistently fight on steroids."

Unfortunately for Diaz, state athletic commissions also ban marijuana use, and he tested positive for the illegal drug in Las Vegas after his impressive win over Japan's Takanori Gomi in early 2007. A state athletic commissioner in Nevada argued Diaz was numb to pain because of excessive marijuana in his system. Diaz's victory was vacated; he was fined and suspended for six months.

"The drug is banned because of the damage it does to the person taking it," said Keith Kizer, Nevada State Athletic Commission executive officer. "It could make you lethargic, slow your reflexes, and those are dangerous things in a combat sport."

The California State Athletic Commission said Diaz would undergo drug testing before and after Saturday's fight.

Diaz, however, argues marijuana eases problems he has battled since childhood when, he says, he was diagnosed with attention deficit disorder and prescribed mood-altering medication. His rebellion as a youth forced him to relocate to schools where he continually felt out of place and he ultimately became a high school dropout.

"I like the idea of being able to fight my way out of something," Diaz said.

Diaz fought on his first professional MMA card at 18 and was on the UFC roster two years later. He was 7-4 in MMA's premier organization, losing to two fighters who have since been suspended for steroids (Sean Sherk) and pain-killers (Karo Parisyan) and dropping another decision to current UFC lightweight title contender Diego Sanchez.

In 2006, Diaz was extended an invitation to compete on the UFC's popular "The Ultimate Fighter 4" reality television series. He said he didn't like the idea of being continually followed by cameras and speculated his presence was more a threatened order than a request.

Shortly after, Diaz and the UFC parted ways, although his brother Nate still fights in the organization. In Nick's first post-UFC fight, he tested positive for marijuana. He suspects someone tipped off authorities. "I got high in my [hotel] room the night before every [UFC] fight," Diaz said. But Kizer said Diaz was merely among 10 of 16 PRIDE Fighting Championships athletes who were tested that night.

Diaz is 4-1 since, earning a Brazilian jujitsu black belt in 2007 and complementing his intense MMA training by competing in triathlons. On March 29, Diaz finished fourth in his age group in an event in Sacramento as part of his training for Saturday's fight.

Said Shamrock of Diaz: "He definitely smokes marijuana. That's his own business, but it's not the greatest thing for the sport. We're fighting a stigma. Still, there's something refreshing about his honesty."

Diaz says he believes MMA fans admire his attitude, more so than his peers.

"I don't worry about the sport, I worry about my own . . . teeth getting kicked in," Diaz said.


Donna Tam/The Times-Standard
Posted: 04/08/2009 01:23:35 AM PDT

Eureka will not be following in Arcata's medical marijuana footsteps anytime soon.

The Eureka City County Tuesday night voted three to two not to look into the possibility of creating a medical marijuana dispensary ordinance.

In the absence of Councilman Jones, Mayor Virginia Bass was the deciding vote against the measure, saying that the issue needed to be discussed at a later time.

Bass's comments about the abuse of medical marijuana and the need to address the issue of illegal grow houses echoed those of Councilmembers Frank Jager and Jeff Leonard.

"I would say that the first thing we need to work on is these grow houses and work on it right away, and put a stop to that before we have a discussion about medical marijuana," Jager said.

Councilwoman Linda Atkins, who initiated the discussion about the ordinance, said the matter is a compassion issue as well as a fiscal issue. She said she just wanted to direct staff to look into the possibility of coming up with a responsible form of regulation.

"The only way we're going to stop people from growing marijuana in houses illegally is to enforce a code," she said.

Representatives from established medical marijuana cooperatives in Arcata came forward to offer their assistance in creating an ordinance.

The council did approve of a motion by Councilman Larry Glass to expand the duties of an already existing task force to look at how to address the problem of grow houses in residential areas, separate from regulating medical marijuana.

The council also unanimously supported the planning commission's decision to deny the proposal for a general plan amendment of property on Dolbeer Street.

Applicant John Vitale, who had applied to have the zone changed to be appropriate for medical services, asked the council to allow him to meet with the residents and create mitigation measures, but the council felt the concerns of residents in the area were valid.

Nearly a dozen residents spoke out against the zoning change, citing traffic concerns. Many questioned the necessity of having additional property for medical services while there is presently other property already zoned as such that is unused.

The council encouraged Vitale to come up with concrete mitigation methods if he chooses to propose the amendment again.

In other matters, the council approved a Safe Route to Schools grant application, accepted $1 million in stimulus funding for street improvements and approved the designation of a lot on California and 15th streets as a community garden and orchard while authorizing staff to apply for a grant and also communicate with the groups that also occupy the lot.

Donna Tam can be reached at 441-0532 or

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Marijuana ordinance to get airing in San Lorenzo

By Jason Sweeney
The Daily Review
Posted: 04/07/2009 04:02:39 PM PDT
Updated: 04/07/2009 04:02:40 PM PDT

SAN LORENZO — Concerns over medical marijuana dispensaries in unincorporated
Alameda County will be discussed later this month at a public meeting with
the Alameda County Board of Supervisors.

The April 22 session will mark the first Board of Supervisors meeting to be
held in San Lorenzo, officials said.

"The community is going to give input on what conditions the dispensaries
should be allowed to run," San Lorenzo Village Homes Association
administrator Nancy Van Huffel said, adding that local residents want to
have a say on security requirements, hours of operation and location, among
other conditions.

A large crowd is expected for the meeting. Speakers at a recent meeting of
the Village Homes Association voiced concern that large numbers of marijuana
advocates from other counties might show up.

The current county ordinance allows for three medical marijuana dispensaries
in the unincorporated areas of Alameda County. However, guidelines released
in August by state Attorney General Jerry Brown permit dispensaries only if
they qualify as a statutory cooperative or a collective.

"The Board of Supervisors will review current developments around medical
marijuana regulations, including the attorney general's opinion and any new
court cases and how those new developments affect the county's medical
marijuana dispensary ordinance," the office of Supervisor Nate Miley said in
a statement. "Supervisor Miley hopes that the results of the meeting will be
that the Board of Supervisors gives county counsel direction on revising our
ordinance so that we can continue to provide medical marijuana to patients
in the unincorporated communities."

Of the three dispensaries that have operated locally since 2005:

# The Compassionate Collective of Alameda County at 21222 Mission Blvd. in
Hayward closed in 2007 after a Drug Enforcement Administration raid.

# The Garden of Eden at 21227 Foothill Blvd. in Hayward recently shut down

# We Are Hemp at 931 E. Lewelling Blvd. in Cherryland was raided in late
2008 and shut its doors, but reopened about three weeks ago. According to an
employee, it is now operating as a collective — defined as "an entity that
is incorporated with the state and conducts its business for the mutual
benefit of its members."