Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Rosemead bans pot shops?

Posted: 06/29/2009 05:06:51 PM PDT

The Rosemead city council on Tuesday will consider taking emergency steps to
stop the proliferation of medical marijuana dispensaries and adult
businesses in the city.

The council will consider adopting urgency ordinances placing moratoriums on
both types of businesses.

The immediate ban on medical marijuana dispensaries is necessary in light of
recent changes to state and federal law that have created "a dramatic
increase in inquiries from individuals interested in opening these types of
businesses," according to a staff report on the subject.

The city's ordinance regulating adult businesses is outdated and needs to be
updated. In the meantime, city staff is recommending the moratorium. The
meeting at 8838 E. Valley Blvd.

The meeting begins at 6 p.m.


Naveda City Ban on Pot Shop?

By David Mirhadi
Staff Writer
Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Nevada City Council will consider extending a moratorium on the opening
of medical marijuana dispensaries in town, but the mayor believes the city
might not need the full 10 months before crafting an ordinance allowing such

“I think we can fashion a workable ordinance in a shorter period of time,â€
Mayor Barbara Coffman said Monday.

The meeting is at 6:30 tonight at Nevada City Hall.

In May, Nevada City City Council members unanimously passed a 45-day
emergency ordinance barring the dispensaries from opening in town so they
could research the issue.

The 45-day moratorium was passed just after Grass Valley passed a similar
measure. The Grass Valley City Council followed up the emergency ordinance
with a vote earlier this month to extend the moratorium a full 10 months and
15 days, the maximum amount of time allowed by law to keep such an ordinance
in place under terms of Proposition 215.

Prop. 215 was ratified by voters in 1996.

It allows caregivers and medical providers to sell marijuana for medical
treatment to people with a doctor's recommendation.

While it is legal in California for those with a prescription, the use or
possession of marijuana is a crime under federal law.

While members of the Nevada City City Council have previously said they were
not opposed to opening a medical marijuana dispensary in town, they did
express a preference for crafting an ordinance tailored for the city's use.

“I think (city management) will have to provide more information as to how
this could be harmful for our town,†Coffman said. “I'm going to listen to
what's being provided to us.â€

Nevada City resident Harry Bennett applied in April for a business license
to open a marijuana dispensary. He has indicated he'd like to open a store
on Uren Street.

Bennett did not return a call for comment Monday afternoon.

The nearest medical marijuana dispensary operates in Colfax, and the city
has received few complaints since it opened about five years ago.

Grass Valley Mayor Lisa Swarthout said the moratorium that was extended in
Grass Valley was done to give law enforcement time to put together an

Coffman on Monday said the Nevada City City Council is not explicitly
opposed to the opening of a medical marijuana dispensary, a sentiment shared
by other members of the council when the issue was first discussed by
members at a meeting in May.

“I don't think the council would support a total ban on these,†she said.

To contact Staff Writer David Mirhadi, e-mail dmirhadi@theunion.com or call


Action angers pot dispensaries

June 30, 2009

Sending a clear signal that it wants to close hundreds of medical marijuana
dispensaries, a City Council committee Monday recommended denying requests
from 28 dispensaries for exemptions from a moratorium.

The hearing left dispensary owners and their lawyers furious. They
complained that notices arrived over the weekend or not at all, speakers had
just minutes to make their case and council members spent no time weighing
the testimony.

"I thought the hearings were a farce and a sham," said Graham Berry, an
attorney who spoke for 10 dispensaries.

Councilmen Ed Reyes, the chairman of the Planning Committee, and Jose Huizar
sought to defuse several tense moments by explaining the process. They
pointed out it was a hearing, not a debate, noted that state law requires
only 72 hours' notice to put items on an agenda and said they had carefully
reviewed the hardship exemption applications.

"What you see here today is the conclusion of a long process," said Reyes,
who had to repeatedly ask speakers to stay within their allotted time. "The
assertion that this is a sham is false."

-- John Hoeffel LOS ANGELES


Monday, June 29, 2009


Close your eyes.

Now imagine a garden-variety marijuana doc.

You projected someone goofy, right? Dr. Feel-Good?

Or venal? Dr. Slime-Ball?

Anecdotal evidence abounds that unscrupulous marijuana doctors will
recommend weed for anyone who claims a malady, genuine or not.

I asked Dr. Bob Blake if the stories were true.

"Oh, God, yes!" he said. "Guaranteed."

Then how could this ER doctor - "highly respected," according to
Palomar Pomerado Health spokesman Andy Hoang - get involved in the
demimonde of medical cannabis?


The bulletin atop Medical Marijuana of San Diego's Web site reflects,
one gathers, the euphoria of the cannabis community.

"Two years ago," Blake writes on his home page, "Medical Marijuana of
San Diego temporarily relocated to the San Diego/Orange County border
because there were no dispensaries or co-ops available to supply
medical marijuana to our patients in San Diego County, the Board of
Supervisors refused to implement the (medical) marijuana laws, and
the district attorney served notice that all dispensaries were to close."

During this two-year dark age, as county supervisors remained hostile
to the permissive state law, Medical Marijuana's local patients were
forced to drive to Orange County to receive their prescriptions. And then

"With the new Attorney General Eric Holder's announcement that the
federal government would leave medical marijuana alone and only go
after those breaking both federal and state laws, the climate
changed. When the Supreme Court refused to hear the final appeal of
San Diego County, dispensaries started opening up all over San Diego."

As it happens, Medical Marijuana of San Diego, one of an estimated 20
county doctor's offices that prescribe cannabis, is rebounding from
its own rough brush with the law.

In 2006, Drug Enforcement Administration agents conducted a sting at
the clinic. A Medical Board of California investigation determined
that Dr. Alfonso Jimenez, an osteopath, had recommended marijuana
without adequate exams. In April, Jimenez lost his license to
practice medicine.

This left up to 10,000 of Jimenez's cannabis patients with invalid
prescriptions. The only way to save the practice was to put it in the
hands of a doctor in good standing.

Enter Dr. Blake. For 20 years, Blake was the chair of Pomerado
Hospital's Emergency Department. For two years in the mid-1990s, he
was the hospital's chief of staff.

"Before losing his license, Dr. Jimenez turned over your care to me,"
Blake assures patients on his Web site. "I stand behind EVERY
patient's letter of recommendation for medical marijuana written by
Dr. Jimenez."

Blake's nearing 60, but the tan, lean vegetarian looks 50 in baggy
shorts, T-shirt and sandals as he sips iced tea at the Pannikin,
Leucadia's coffee hangout.

He grew up in North Park, went to St. Augustine High School and spent
his free time gliding over the water - as a sailor and a surfer - and
underneath as a diver. To stay in shape, he swims two miles most
every day, from Swami's to F Street and back.

After graduating from UC Irvine's medical school, Blake went into
emergency medicine.

In 2005, he'd had enough of the pressure and long hours. He started
looking for a niche where he could use his skill at sizing up
injuries and dealing with pain.

Around 2000, a family member had become a "chronic pain patient"
after a car accident. Having explored the usual "modalities," a
colleague of Blake's suggested cannabis.

His relative started out with two doses of cannabis a week - and then
two a month. "The metabolites continue to work after the euphoria is
gone," Blake said. Unlike opiates, "the benefits for long-term pain
management are excellent."

He thought about working with medical marijuana right after quitting
Pomerado, but "I didn't feel like getting in the middle of the firestorm."

Early this year, however, as the legal climate was shifting, Blake
contacted Jimenez and began an internship to learn the hemp ropes, so to speak.

Then Jimenez was stripped of his license. Taking a deep breath, Blake
plunged. "I had no idea what I was entering," he said of the
challenges of assuming a stigmatized practice.

I asked him if his friends and former associates were taken aback at
his offbeat course. He said no, not at all. (That's one advantage of
living in Leucadia, I suppose.)

Still, he's leery of the counterculture image of medical marijuana.
He said he'd like to tone down the Web site and advertising he
inherited from the flamboyantly hip Jimenez.

Blake's looking for an office in Mission Valley to add to his space
in Dana Point. He says he spends about 15 minutes with patients - as
much as a half an hour with new ones. He insists upon medical records
to back up claims of distress, whether mental or physical.

If anyone showed him a marijuana bud in his office, he'd kick the
person out. He practices medicine in a separate universe from
dispensaries or co-ops.

Though a strong advocate of cannabis as a pain reliever, Blake says
he opposes legislation to legalize the drug.

The country's mainstream isn't ready for such a radical change, he
says. He worries about traffic safety if pot were legal.

Besides, it would be bad for business, he says with a smile.

L.A. is trying to weed out pot sellers

Hundreds are selling medical marijuana in the city. The council is looking
for a way to reduce the number.

By John Hoeffel
June 28, 2009

A city inspector dropped by the Bulldog Cafe Collective on Melrose Avenue
last week to see if it was still in business. It was. Inside the spare,
modern interior, dusky green marijuana buds were still displayed in plastic
jars. An owner who is often at the store tweezed whimsically named strains
into small vials for customers.

The store near Hancock Park is among the first 14 medical marijuana
dispensaries targeted for extinction by a City Council chagrined that it
allowed hundreds to open in Los Angeles despite a 21-month-old moratorium.

The inspections start the process to shut them down. At least one, in
Atwater Village, has already closed. But others remain open, weighing their
legal options.

City officials plan to decide this week on the next enforcement step.

On Monday, the council will accelerate its drive to roll back the number of
dispensaries, holding hearings on 29 more. "We were trying to factor in a
significant number so that we can make some headway," said Councilman Ed
Reyes, the chairman of the planning committee. "I thought we were going too

As the council embarks on this effort, it faces some obstacles.

The task is herculean, requiring hearings that could easily tie up the
planning committee for hundreds of hours. The hearings have been rocky, as
council members have struggled with complicated issues and dispensary
operators have complained that they were being railroaded. And, if
dispensaries refuse to buckle, the city could face costly court battles.

One of the Bulldog Cafe's owners, Anthony Folsom, said the rush to close
dispensaries would hurt responsible businessmen and Los Angeles. "The city
seems to be caving to political pressure," he said. "People who are in it
for the right reason are going to get out, and what they are going to be
left with is drug dealers."

The council wound up in this situation because it failed to act on
dispensaries' applications for hardship exemptions from the moratorium. That
inaction, which lasted almost 17 months, encouraged dispensaries to open;
the city attorney's office had decided it could not take dispensaries to
court until the council denied their applications.

In the last few months, applications poured in.

On June 9, when the council voted to stop accepting them, there were about
550. The decision did not become effective until Tuesday. By then, the total
had hit 883.

"That's a huge number," Reyes said. "Thank God we stopped it."

The moratorium does not spell out what qualifies a dispensary for a hardship
exemption, and the city attorney's office has advised the council only that
its decisions must be fair and rational.

That vague advice led Councilman Richard Alarcon to warn recently that the
city could find itself snarled in lawsuits. "This is a very dangerous road
we're going down," he said. "It's going to cost us a ton of money."

Reyes has held just two hearings so far, on the Bulldog Cafe and New Age
Wellness, a dispensary that has not yet opened in Venice. They were marked
by awkward moments. Council aides presented some inaccurate and unverified
information, and Reyes tried to silence the dispensaries' attorneys when
they responded to it.

At one point, Stewart Richlin, the attorney for New Age Wellness, leaped up
and cried out, "I'd like to challenge that. That's hearsay within hearsay."
He kept interrupting until he made his point, which turned out to be

Richlin and medical marijuana advocates were disturbed that Reyes allowed
most speakers just one minute.

"Gee, why should they give a full minute?" Richlin said recently. "What if
they gave 10 seconds or two seconds? Then you could give your name, and they
could say, 'Guilty, death sentence.' I mean this is a kangaroo court.' "

Reyes made no apologies for the procedures. "It's not a debate. It's a
hearing," he said. "If it was a debate, I would never finish an item."

The council's decision to reject the applications from the Bulldog Cafe and
New Age Wellness suggests it is unlikely to grant many exemptions.

The Bulldog Cafe, which originally opened in North Hollywood, was one of 186
dispensaries that met all of the city's requirements to operate during the
moratorium. But its owners say they were forced to move by their landlord,
who received a letter from the Drug Enforcement Administration that
threatened the landlord with felony charges.

The move required them to get a hardship exemption from the City Council to
be allowed to open in a different location.

"This, I think, is the classic hardship case," said Thomas J. Gray, the
Bulldog Cafe's attorney.

Many of the city's legal dispensaries, possibly more than 50, filed similar
applications when their landlords evicted them after receiving DEA letters.
The council appears disinclined to give the letters much weight.

That dismays medical marijuana advocates who believe these dispensaries
followed the rules. "I don't understand why the city is going to be hostile
with them," said Degé Coutee, who runs the Patient Advocacy Network.

In denying the Bulldog Cafe's application, Reyes noted that the store had
moved into the same block as the John C. Fremont library, calling that "an
overwhelming factor."

Cindy Chvatal, head of the Hancock Park Homeowners Assn., said many parents
whose children use the library and a nearby preschool have complained to her
about the dispensary's location.

The city has not adopted an ordinance to control dispensaries and has no
restrictions on where they can operate. But, Reyes said, "we have enough
common sense to know what we want and don't want."

The council is considering a proposal to keep them 1,000 feet from libraries
and other places children frequent.

New Age Wellness claimed as its hardship that it could not open before the
moratorium because of uncertainty caused by federal raids and confusion over
the city's proposed rules.

Its owners also said they are veteran healthcare professionals. They said
that they worked with city officials to plan their store on Rose Avenue so
it would comply with any future ordinance and that they have spent at least

"We have a lot at stake to lose," said Curt Moore, one of the owners.

But its location also sparked concerns. Neighbors were already irritated by
a nearby dispensary.

Whitney Blumenfeld, an aide to Councilman Bill Rosendahl, whose district
includes Venice, urged the council to reject the "build it first and ask for
forgiveness later" approach.


29 Medical Marijuana Hardship Hearings Today

> Brett Stone
> June 29, 2009
> The Los Angeles Planning and Land Use Management (PLUM) Committee will be
> holding a special meeting today, Monday June 29, 2009 to hear 29 medical
> marijuana hardship exemption applications.
> This list includes at least one pre-ICO collective that relocated due to a
> DEA landlord letter. Several of the collectives scheduled for hearings are
> in the Eagle Rock area of Los Angeles but the vast majority scheduled for
> hearings this time are on the west side of Los Angeles and the San Fernando
> Valley.
> In Eagle Rock, collectives on Colorado Blvd and Eagle Rock Blvd were
> selected for hearings this round.
> In Hollywood, collectives on Hollywood Blvd, Sunset Blvd, Cahuenga Blvd and
> La Brea Ave have been scheduled for hearings next Monday.
> Collectives on Pico Blvd, Olympic Blvd, Venice Blvd, Washington Blvd,
> Jefferson Blvd, Fairfax Ave and Melrose Ave are among those on the west
> side
> that are scheduled while several locations on Ventura Blvd in the west
> valley will also be receiving notices of hearings.
> The hearing will be today, Monday June 29, 2009 at Los Angeles City Hall,
> 200 N Spring St in room 1060 and the special meeting begins at 8:30 AM and
> if you are unable to attend you listen live online via the internet at
> http://lacity.org/lacity/YourGovernment/CityCouncil/CouncilCommitteeMeetings/index.htm
> You can also listen live via telephone: COUNCILPHONE, A dial-up system
> which
> allows the public to listen to live coverage of the Los Angeles City Public
> Meetings from any phone. The numbers may be used from any location, not
> just
> in Los Angeles. Dial up and listen in. Use any of these 4 numbers- (213)
> 621-CITY, (310) 547-CITY, (310) 471-CITY or (818) 904-9450.
> Here is a list of the collectives that are currently scheduled for hearings
> Monday morning June 29th, listings here may not be the order in which they
> are called.
> Hardship application hearings scheduled for Monday 6/29/09
> Time: 8:30 AM
> Location: Los Angeles City Hall, 200 N Spring Street, Room 1060
> Jose Lopez, 215 W 6th St
> North East Collective, 120 So Ave 54
> Organic Healing, 1733 Colorado Blvd
> Fantastic Healing Plants, 2272 Colorado Blvd
> Universal Caregivers, 4157 Eaglerock
> Green Guild, 1640 Cahuenga
> Advanced Patients Collective, 6410 Hollywood Blvd
> City Of Angels Wellness Center, 6435 Sunset Blvd
> Organic Living Center, 11600 San Vicente
> Green Oasis, 11924 Jefferson Blvd
> Best Bud, 12515 Venice
> The Hills Caregivers, 20000 W Ventura
> 18375 W Ventura Blvd
> 19528 W Ventura Blvd
> Green Healing Group, 19513 Ventura Blvd
> Wilshire Compassion Collective, 3008 Wilshire Blvd
> Relax Herbal Place, 5427 Pico
> Helping Hand Network, 9636 Venice
> Holistic Harvest, 9636 Venice
> Pot of Gold, 5591 Pico
> Green Care, 5591 Pico
> 420 Wellness, 2126 S La Brea, #104
> Blue Moon Collective, 5155 Washington
> Canna Health, 5208 Pico
> Holistic Harvest, 3511 Olympic
> LA OG, 7350 Melrose
> Buds on Melrose, 7418 Melrose
> Encino Discount Collective, 15826 Ventura
> Fairfax Organic Farm, 800 Fairfax Ave
> ------end list of hardship hearings ---

Friday, June 26, 2009

Cops return medical marijuana

Charlie Brennan KDVR Reporter

8:16 PM MDT, June 25, 2009

BOULDER, Colo. - Several cartons and dozens of mason jars filled with
high-grade marijuana were turned over by Boulder Police on Thursday to
owners of a medical marijuana dispensary, returned to those who lost it in a
brazen theft just one week ago.

The marijuana, more than 28 different strains of weed, were recovered by
police from a quartet of men who allegedly stole it in a mid-afternoon heist
-- along with surveillance equipment owned by the New Options Wellness
Clinic -- and were then tracked down and arrested as they tried to flee on
U.S. 36.

The four are scheduled for a preliminary hearing in Boulder County Court
July 6; in the meantime, the drugs were logged by police as evidence for the
prosecution of the theft case, but on Thursday were returned to the clinic,
which has remained open since the heist.

"Basically, we consider this a routine return of property to victims of a
crime," said Boulder Police spokeswoman Sarah Huntley. "We are basically
returning property to victims. It's not adversarial in any way at all. We
are hoping to prosecute this case successfully and get them the justice they

It was seen as anything but routine by representatives of the clinic. There
are numerous cases of police returning marijuana to clinics, but in most
cases that has occurred when it was the police who seized live plants, were
then ordered by courts to return them, and often, have done so with the
plants in considerably worse shape than when they'd been taken.

"I am not aware of any being returned in this level of weight as well as, I
think it was mentioned, that there's over 28 strains here, and that's
fabulous," said Warren Edson, who advises approximately 20 dispensaries in
Colorado, and was a co-author of Amendment 20, which gave Colorado legalized
medical marijuana in 2000.

"We have a gentleman who runs a business here in Boulder, and pays taxes,"
Edson added. "He was unfortunate to be a victim of a crime, and the police
department did a great job of getting right on it, apprehending the
criminals, getting the evidence back.

"We have a lot of patients in his state who are in desperate need of this
medicine, and in particular, some of this medicine is some of the finest
organic medicine that you find in the state."

Representatives of the New Options Wellness Clinic would not estimate by
weight how much marijuana was stolen, or how much the police gave back to
them today. However, Huntley said the original amount stolen mostly filled
two 18-gallon Rubbermaid tubs.

Jeffrey Gard, an attorney for New Options, said a small amount of what was
stolen, then recovered, was retained Thursday by police, although he was not
clear for what purpose; he said the substance retained by police was

"There is, as I understand, a very small amount of a powdered substance,
which we did keep as evidence," Huntley said. "The D.A. is reviewing the
law, to see whether that falls under the (medical marijuana) guidelines."

Gard, although he termed the Boulder department's role in the affair to be
one of "reluctant cooperation," he also said, "They moved very quickly. And
actually, as a criminal defense practioner, this is the most rapid I've ever
seen them return property in any case, that was pending with an

Meanwhile, medical marijuana advocates say the number of providers in the
Denver metro area has exploded recently; Edson said there are about 35
store-front dispensaries now in and around Denver, whereas this time last
year he said, there were no more than eight.

"I think it's directly attributable to the federal government indicating
they were going to leave this up to the states," Edson said, "and then, a
lot of people in this state being able to work properly under the state
amendment and provide service for a large number of patients."

A total of 9,340 people have been approved by the state, based on letters
from their doctors, to use medical marijuana since June 2001. One hundred
and eighty-two of those people have subsequently died, another 1,444 had
their approvals expire, leaving 7,630 Coloradans currently permitted to buy
and consume marijuana for medical purposes.


PLea Bargins ends mega medical marijuana case

By TERRY VAU DELL - Staff Writer
Posted: 06/25/2009 10:39:55 PM PDT

OROVILLE -- Unexpected plea bargains were struck Thursday, resolving
criminal charges against all but one person in a 13-co-defendant Butte
County medical marijuana case.

Most of the defendants pleaded no contest either to illegal cultivation,
possession of pot for sale, or maintaining a place where marijuana is used
or sold, in return for a guarantee of probation.

Prosecutors said they will demand prison terms for two others who they
regard as more culpable.

All charges were dropped Thursday against Dustin Lawrence Shay after
authorities determined he was never involved in the illicit marijuana

The attorney for the remaining defendant, Trevor A. Andrews, was permitted
to opt out of Thursday's "package" plea deal for fear a criminal drug
conviction could cause his client to be deported back to his native Jamaica.

Andrews, who was reportedly arrested while watering one of the remote
marijuana gardens, was forced to waive a preliminary hearing, which had been
in its third day Thursday, and now could face going to jury trial alone.

All 13 defendants were arrested last September during raids on a dozen or
more medical marijuana grows in various sections of the county.

Authorities alleged the suspects were misusing California's medical
marijuana law as a cover to grow and sell pot for profit.

J. Tony Serra, a criminal defense attorney from San Francisco who has
appeared in many high-profile criminal cases, including that of 1960s Black
Panther leader Huey Newton, called the marijuana charges against his client
"a disgrace."

"We're in a transitional period ... on the eve of great change in the law,
great change in behavior and attitude toward marijuana; everywhere
enlightened countries and enlightened states are recognizing the efficacy
and health effects of marijuana," Serra said.

"These people in this transitional phase are being made martyrs," the
defense lawyer said.

Disagreeing strongly, assistant district attorney Helen Harberts said the
evidence produced during the court hearing showed that not only were the
suspects abusing for personal gain a law passed by the voters, but risking
the health of many young people caught up in the purported scheme.

"People who are in the business cultivating and selling marijuana for profit
are a public safety nightmare; almost every one of these places had
firearms," she said. "It's wholly inappropriate and I don't think it's what
the voters intended."

During the preliminary hearing, sheriff's officers testified to finding the
same names of medical marijuana patients on scripts posted at multiple grow
sites in the county.

Some patients testified they were unaware their doctor's recommendations had
been copied and were being posted at more than one garden, if at all.

But Chico attorney Dennis Latimer said he felt "there are far worse cases
than this."

"They were pursuing this case for some reason, but it's not based on
proportionality," the defense attorney added.

Given what he felt were different levels of culpability, Latimer also said
he felt a package plea bargain was unfair.

"If you don't plead, you're hurting other people" by forcing them to trial,
he noted.

The prosecutor had yet to finish the first half of her case surrounding
sheriff's raids last September on six indoor and outdoor medical marijuana
grows in the foothills around Concow, Berry Creek and Butte Creek Canyon.

Harberts alleged a Chico resident, Casey James Wilkins, had been the
principal mastermind behind the grows and was funneling profits into a
series of "shell" businesses in an attempt to launder the money.

Wilkins Thursday pleaded no contest to charges of felony cultivation,
possession for sales and money laundering, in return for the dismissal of a
newly-filed marijuana sales case and an agreement not to prosecute a female

Wilkins also stipulated to a civil asset judgment that will require him to
forfeit more than $9,000 in cash seized during the raids and a boat, which
has already been sold at auction by local authorities.

Harberts said she will seek prison terms of up to four years and four months
against Wilkins and an associate, Matthew Herrick, at the Sept. 14
sentencing set by Judge Steven Howell in all 11 cases.

Harberts has agreed to recommend probation for four others associated with
the Wilkins' side of the case: Jeffrey Raymond Nichol, Arthur Leonard
Jenkins, Michael Lane Jones and Keith Colin Oshea.

Amy Miles, the only female suspect arrested, will be granted diversion. All
charges against her will be dismissed upon successful completion of a drug
rehabilitation program, according to her attorney, Anthony Cardoza.

Several others arrested in connection with raids on medical marijuana
collective gardens in and around Chico, Cohasset and Forest Ranch, accepted
separate plea bargains that will guarantee them probation, with up to one
year in jail.

They are: Matthew Robert Eubanks, James Allison Martin, Sean Steven Grogan
and Asher Leon Prince.

Eubanks, who prosecutors had characterized as one of the ringleaders, also
agreed to forfeit some $9,430 in cash.

A 1969 Ford Bronco which he customized will be returned to Eubanks as well
as other custom heavy equipment seized by authorities worth more than
$100,000, in return for a cash payment of $30,000, according to his
attorney, Robert Marshall.

"I don't think Matt was nearly as involved as some of the other
individuals," said Marshall.

He said his client had to weigh the expense of a potential six-week jury
trial and imprisonment if convicted, in addition to watching "his friends go
down" if he didn't accept the plea bargain.

Oregon medical marijuana clinics opens

By Andrea Calcagno
June 25, 2009

GRANTS PASS, Ore. - There is now a clinic in Southern Oregon where patients can potentially qualify for medical marijuana cards.

The Hemp and Cannabis Foundation Clinic is the first of its kind in the region. Dr. Thomas Orvald lives in Portland and makes trips to Grants Pass to see patients about four times a month. Clinic staff screen a patient's medical records before making an appointment. A patient must have a serious medical condition in order to be issued the paperwork for a medical marijuana card.

It costs $200 to make an appointment. There is a $60 discount for anyone on food stamps, the Oregon Health Plan, or other government assistance.

Clinic representatives say they've seen between 75 and 100 patients a month since it opened in April.

Oregon law states that once a patient acquires a marijuana license, they can then grow or obtain marijuana from a licensed grower.

Monday, June 22, 2009

SB to issue MMJ cards

By Joe Nelson, Staff Writer
Posted: 06/21/2009 09:30:33 PM PDT

The county's Public Health Department has put together a proposal for a medical marijuana identification card program in terms of costs and hours of operation.

Proposed fees for the identification cards are $166 per card for caregivers and non-Medi-Cal patients and $83 per card for Medi-Cal patients.

On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors will hear the proposal during a public hearing. It will come back to the board on July 14 for adoption.

The board Tuesday also will consider adopting an "urgency interim ordinance" that would place a temporary moratorium on the issuance of permits for medical marijuana dispensaries until the county can formulate development code provisions and design standards for dispensaries.

On May 18, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal from San Bernardino and San Diego counties, which argued that the federal law outlawing marijuana possession and use under any circumstance pre-empted California's Compassionate Use Act, which allows for the possession, cultivation, transport and use of marijuana per a physician's recommendation.

The U.S. Supreme Court's decision ended a three-year legal battle to thwart the identification card programs in San Bernardino and San Diego counties.

Still, those desiring to obtain identification cards in San Bernardino County may still find themselves waiting. Finishing touches need to be put on a pending lawsuit involving the county and a Crestline man, Scott Bledsoe, who sued the county in January over its refusal to implement an identification card program.

"Part of the problem is the person who initiated the lawsuit against the county has not signed off on the (settlement) agreement," said Burt Southard, spokesman for board chairman Gary Ovitt. "Until Bledsoe signs off on the agreement, very little is going to be going forward."

He said county officials have repeatedly tried contacting Bledsoe in the last month, but haven't been successful.

Reached by telephone Friday, Bledsoe said he spoke via telephone with Matt Brown, chief of staff for 2nd District Supervisor Paul Biane, on Thursday.

Bledsoe, 37, said he subsequently called his attorney, who informed him he hadn't heard from Brown or any other county officials.

He said he's going to err on the side of caution.

"We probably don't want to give up the litigation until the county does what it's supposed to be doing," Bledsoe said. "The only thing we're asking them to do is comply with state law."

If approved, the county Department of Public Health would operate the identification card program six hours a day Monday through Friday, excluding holidays. Hours of operation would be from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., with a one-hour break for lunch from noon to 1 p.m.

The health department expects to serve about 250 to 300 patients and caregivers a year. Those wanting to pick up an application can do so by dropping by the department's main office at 351 N. Mountain View Ave. in San Bernardino.

Patients will have to reapply for their cards every year.

The program is expected to cost the county about $30,000 for the 2009-2010 fiscal year.

Forty-eight counties in California have implemented medical marijuana identification card programs, and the state has distributed about 30,000 cards in those counties, according to the state.




Canadian Hempfest to end this year

End of an era: annual Hempfest festivities will cease this year

June 22, 2009

Ontario Provincial Police have harshed the Hempfest buzz once too often, say event organizers who plan to make this year's celebration of medicinal marijuana the region's last.

In recent years, the four-day event has been the focus of what organizer Rob Waddell contends is unwarranted police presence, with RIDE checks that focus on "interrogation," and hindering access, rather than weeding out impaired drivers.

"It's the harassment of people travelling to and from the festival. The constitution and Charter of Rights guarantee us the right to gather peacefully and demonstrate against unjust laws, which we're doing," said Waddell.

"The police keep interfering with our people and the right to gather."

The event takes place in August in a remote area northeast of the Sault and focuses on efforts to make it easier to use marijuana medically, though Wadell admits there is "a little bit of recreational too."

Police in the region have said Hempfest is treated like any other event of a similar scope. Last year, OPP laid dozens of charges, mostly for motor vehicle infractions, and a handful of drug-related offences.

Waddell said the vehicle infractions and questioning of vehicle occupants are "petty things,"meant to interfere with a staunchly pro-marijuana event, and questioned why OPP have been accompanied by law enforcement from the U. S.

"They're targeting the sick. We're not a bunch of crazies out in the bush, getting stoned and running around, it's (mostly) people that are 35 to 60 years old that are out there and (having) just a great weekend of educating each other and talking about friends and talking about the benefits and the situations that are arising about the medical use of cannabis in Canada," said Waddell.

While others may decide in future to pick up the Hempfest torch, this year's event will be the last to be held in Poplar Dale, a community of less than 100 people who will be able to "get back to their peaceful way of life out there in the country," said Waddell.

This year's Aug. 27-30 gathering will be called Hempfest: The End of An Era.

Waddell said the fading away of Hempfest will be a blow to tourism in the area. While attendance has been down in recent years, the event has drawn between 1,500 and 2,000 people each year.

He said roughly half of those people come from outside the Sault area.

"There's a large contingent of people who come from southern Ontario, from the u. S., from Northern Ontario, Manitoba, Quebec, there's people coming from New Brunswick this year. We've had people come from Japan to this," said Waddell.

Waddell said his efforts now will turn to creating a music festival which he hopes to turn into "a real good rocking time for four days."


Sunday, June 21, 2009

Quite move to lagalize drugs

President Calderon is set to sign the law, but some fear that letting off users caught with limited amounts of drugs will increase drug use and encourage 'drug tourists' from the U.S.

By Tracy Wilkinson
June 21, 2009

Reporting from Mexico City — Could Mexican cities become Latin Amsterdams, flooded by drug users seeking penalty-free tokes and toots?

That is the fear, if somewhat overstated, of some Mexican officials, especially in northern border states that serve as a mecca for underage drinkers from the United States.

The anxiety stems from the Mexican legislature's quiet vote to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine and other drugs, an effort that in the past proved controversial.

There's been less protest this time, in part because there hasn't been much publicity.

Some critics have suggested that easing the punishment for drug possession sends the wrong message while President Felipe Calderon is waging a bloody war against major narcotics traffickers. The battle between law enforcement authorities and drug suspects has claimed more than 11,000 lives since he took office in late 2006.

But it was Calderon who proposed the decriminalization legislation.

His reasoning: It makes sense to distinguish between small-time users and big-time dealers, while re-targeting major crime-fighting resources away from the consumers and toward the dealers and their drug lord bosses.

"The important thing is . . . that consumers are not treated as criminals," said Rafael Ruiz Mena, secretary general of the National Institute of Penal Sciences. "It is a public health problem, not a penal problem."

The legislation was approved at the height of a swine flu outbreak in Mexico that dominated the public's, and the world's, attention. Meeting at times behind closed doors -- the better to prevent the spread of the virus, officials said -- the lower and upper houses of Congress passed the bill in the last days of April. It now awaits Calderon's signature.

The bill says users caught with small amounts -- 5 grams of marijuana, 500 milligrams of cocaine -- clearly intended for "personal and immediate use" will not be criminally prosecuted. They will be told of available clinics, and encouraged to enter a rehabilitation program.

Up to 40 milligrams of methamphetamine, a synthetic and especially harmful drug, is permitted under the legislation, as is up to 50 milligrams of heroin.

In May 2006, then-President Vicente Fox, of the same right-wing party as Calderon, vetoed a similar bill that he initially had supported. He backed down only under pressure from Washington, as the Bush administration complained that decriminalization for even small amounts could increase drug use.

But with about two weeks to go before crucial mid-term elections in which his party is struggling to maintain control of Congress, Calderon cannot afford to be seen as bowing to the United States, analysts say.

Already under intense criticism for the drug-related violence terrorizing parts of the country, Calderon needs to maintain good relations with his nation's Congress, where much of the opposition voted in favor of the decriminalization initiative. He can't suddenly go back on his own bill.

And so, political observers say, he probably will sign the bill into law. Calderon's office declined to comment for this article.

So far, the U.S. government has not publicly objected to the legislation. Michele Leonhart, acting director of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, however, said at a news conference in April that legalization of drugs "would be a failed law enforcement strategy for both the U.S. and Mexico."

Mexican officials emphasize that they are not talking about legalization, but decriminalization. Courts now decide on a case-by-case basis whether and how to punish first-time drug-use offenders. There has been no standard criteria for quantities.

Calderon originally wanted the bill to allow users caught with amounts within the limits to avoid jail time only if they agreed to rehabilitation. But the bill was changed to say only that treatment would be encouraged.

Then Calderon sought a provision in which a user arrested a third time would be obliged to seek treatment. That measure was removed, Ruiz Mena said, after debate over whether mandatory rehabilitation is ever effective.

Mexico is woefully under-equipped to handle a rising drug-abuse problem.

For decades the country was a transit point for cocaine, marijuana and other drugs headed to the U.S. But recently, domestic consumption has soared. A 2007 study by the government found the number of addicts in Mexico to have doubled in the previous five years.

Drug abuse has grown worse in part because some of the big cartels pay their people with cocaine or other such substances.

Clinics and other institutions that specialize in treatment and prevention have not kept up with the trend. The government is building 310 centers to improve care, but experts say that is not enough.

The decriminalization legislation has been criticized by religious leaders and several officials in the northern border states, who fear that "drug tourists" will begin flocking to towns and cities already besieged by violence.

"Allowing the carrying of certain amounts of drugs will create more consumers," Oscar Villalobos Chavez, social development secretary for Chihuahua state, which borders Texas, told local reporters.

An editorial in the official magazine of the Roman Catholic Church criticized legislators for relaxing the law "when faced with the highly contagious and lethal sickness that drug addiction represents."

Mary Ellen Hernandez, director of the Rio Grande Safe Communities Coalition in El Paso, across the border from the blood-soaked Ciudad Juarez, said she worried that decriminalization would lure Americans into a drug world they aren't prepared for and increase violence on both sides of the border.

"Already, the drugs that don't come over into the U.S. are being handed out by dealers to younger and younger children [in Mexico], 8, 9, 10-year-olds, hooking them," said Hernandez, whose agency specializes in drug prevention. "And then [the youths] steal to feed the habit."

The legislation "is very disturbing and I think it will make things worse," she said.

Except for the relatively few voices, however, there has been minimal protest over the law, and some praise.

Luciano Pascoe, vice president of the small left-wing Social Democratic Party, said the law was a positive "first step" that helped "shatter the stigma that consumers are criminals."

Pascoe's party is running in next month's elections on a platform that includes legalization of all drugs as a way to make it a less lucrative business for traffickers.

It is not known whether that position has anything to do with four of his candidates being shot at and attacked in recent weeks. None was seriously injured.



SD medical cannabis dealer headed to court

By S Wilson on June 20th, 2009

Digital News Report- Last February Attorney General Eric Holder announced
that the Justice Department would no longer raid medical marijuana
dispensaries that are established legally under state law. However, with the
reason one year sentence handed down to a Morro Bay dispensary owner, many
have sought clarification over the Obama Administration’s official stance on
the matter.

There are currently over a dozen similar cases pending, including that of
San Diegan Eugene Davidovich, whose home was raided in February under
“Operation Endless Summer.†Davidovich was one of dozens of individuals
arrested during the operation.

“An undercover detective from the San Diego Police… lied to his doctor about
his identity and condition,†Davidovich said. “He joined the majority of the
medical collectives and coops listed on the San Diego section of the CA
NORML list with the intent of shutting them down.†After verifying the
detectives’ recommendation with his doctor, Davidovich says that he
delivered ¼ ounce to him. He now faces four felony charges, $65,000 bail,
and what he describes as, “permanent profoundly traumatic damage to my
professional and personal life."

The raid was supposedly aimed towards cracking down on drug deals near
military housing. Some of those who were arrested were in possession of
harder and non-medicinal drugs such as Ecstasy and Meth. However, of the 33
arrested in the initial operation, fourteen were medical marijuana patients
including Davidovich.

“Every attempt made to date by collectives and coops to follow the law in
San Diego has resulted in long investigations [and] prosecutions,†said
Davidovich. “Collectives [have] to operate so deeply underground and under
such intense daily fear and pressure, that the potential public benefit they
could be bringing to the community and to patients is stifled by this
environment of fear.â€

Davidovich’s hearing is scheduled for July 15th at the San Diego Superior
Court. More information on his case can be found at his website

Roots of Mexico City's violance:collapsing drug carel

Associated Press
06/20/09 7:40 PM EDT

TIJUANA, MEXICO — In Mexico's drug war, Tijuana tells the story of a government that says it's winning, even as the battle gets bloodier.

The arrest aboard a yacht in August 2006 of Javier Arellano Felix, the boss of the Tijuana-based Arellano Felix cartel, sparked a savage war of succession — one that President Felipe Calderon moved to exploit when he took office four months later and declared war on the whole drug business in Mexico.

Tijuana's case has shown how much time, effort and blood it can take to subdue even one cartel. Eighteen months after Arellano Felix's arrest, the border city's drug lords were still fighting the army and each other to control lucrative drug routes.

Now, after daytime shootouts and beheadings — 443 murders in the last three months of 2008 alone — Tijuana is quieter. Skeptics say the lull could be only a short-term truce among traffickers. But a top Mexican army commander says the powerful gang's warring factions are spent.

"They wore each other down," Gen. Alfonso Duarte Mugica told The Associated Press. "They couldn't keep going at that pace."

To break down the country's other big cartels, Calderon is using the same strategy that put the Arellano Felix gang on the ropes. Drug violence throughout Mexico has claimed more than 10,700 lives since December 2006 — a sign, says Attorney General Eduardo Medina-Mora, that the government offensive is dividing and weakening drug gangs as they battle for a tightening market.

Calderon's war may never choke off the drug flow permanently. But the goal, he told the AP in late February, is to beat back the cartels by the end of his term in 2012 to a point where the army and federal police can withdraw and leave the rest to normal policing.

The fate of the Arellano Felix gang also shows that the government crackdown is changing drug trafficking in Mexico from a discreet, disciplined business to a brazen public brawl among smaller, less sophisticated criminals — leading to the bloody chaos plaguing the country.

"At least in the first two years, it hasn't led to smaller and more manageable (cartels), it's just led to smaller and more violent," said David Shirk, director of the University of San Diego's Trans-Border Institute.

When the Arellanos dominated Tijuana — as fictionally portrayed in the Hollywood movie "Traffic" — there was a sense of order in the ranks. Cartel members were recruited from wealthy families and blended easily with Tijuana's elite.

Now the four brothers who ruled it are dead or in jail, and the gang is run by Fernando Sanchez Arellano, a nephew in his 30s known as "the Engineer." He is at war with Teodoro Garcia Simental, a longtime cartel lieutenant of roughly the same age who broke away a year ago in a street shootout that killed 14 gang members.

Other long-established gangs — from the Sinaloa cartel based in the northwestern Mexican state of the same name, to the Gulf cartel based near the Gulf of Mexico — are adding to the mayhem by openly battling for the Tijuana gang's once-secure cocaine and marijuana turf.

The Engineer's rival, known as "El Teo," is now allied with the Sinaloa cartel, according to an army document dated February.

El Teo and the Engineer are hardly the leaders of the 1990s, when Mexican cartels took over from Colombians as U.S. drug enforcement in the Caribbean and south Florida pushed drug routes to the U.S.-Mexico border.

In those days Ramon Arellano Felix was the enforcer who rode Harley-Davidson motorcycles and killed people for kicks. Benjamin Arellano Felix was the reserved businessman who dressed conservatively and, according to a 2003 federal indictment in San Diego, "had the ultimate decision-making authority."

The Arellanos killed anyone who stepped on their California-Mexico border turf, aided by corrupt Mexican officials. Their "chief enforcer" in the city of Mexicali, according to a U.S. indictment, was Armando Martinez Duarte, a former federal police official.

Yet the brothers tried to avoid violence in public, typically dissolving bodies in drums of chemicals or burning them in the desert, said John Kirby, a former U.S. prosecutor who co-wrote the 2003 indictment.

"Benjamin wanted things to be quiet," Kirby said. "He didn't want a bunch of bodies being thrown in the street."

Their business attracted some of Tijuana's most prominent families.

Alejandro and Alfredo Hoyodan, San Diego-born sons of a Tijuana electrical contractor, joined Ramon at the best nightclubs and street parties. Their mother, Cristina Palacios, recalled that Ramon was wearing a mink coat and shorts the first time she saw him in 1987.

Ramon always paid for the beer, and soon the sons joined his operation.

Alejandro was 35 when he went missing in 1997. Alfredo, 36, is in a Mexican prison.

Palacios paused when asked what drew her sons to Ramon. "I think it was the adrenaline," she said.

But public acceptance of the Arellanos evaporated in 1993, when Ramon and a crew seeking to assassinate a rival killed Roman Catholic Cardinal Juan Jesus Posadas Ocampo in the Guadalajara airport — a case of mistaken identity.

Meanwhile, Mexican and U.S. drug enforcement officials chipped away at the leadership. In 2002, Mexican authorities killed Ramon in a shootout in Mazatlan and, a month later, captured Benjamin, who remains in a Mexican prison.

After Benjamin's arrest, a key lieutenant already in custody opened up to U.S. authorities, according to David Herrod, a Drug Enforcement Administration agent who pursued the brothers for nearly 20 years.

Arturo "Kitty" Paez, who in 2001 became the first Mexican drug trafficker to be extradited to the U.S. under a landmark Mexican Supreme Court ruling, gave authorities "the break we needed" to build a case against Benjamin and other top leaders, Herrod said in a public lecture last year.

He also helped lead them to the new boss, Javier, the youngest of the 11 Arellano Felix children. U.S. authorities intercepted radio communications of at least 1,500 kidnappings under Javier's reign, with most of the victims' bodies dissolved in acid, Herrod said. U.S. authorities say Javier had a drug-smuggling tunnel dug under the border that was longer than seven football fields.

To capture Javier, the DEA planted a transponder under a yacht he used while it was at a Southern California dealership, said David Bartick, his attorney.

The DEA persuaded the Coast Guard to watch the yacht for six weeks, Herrod said. The American cutter had finished its duty and was two hours up the coast when word arrived that Javier had left Mexican waters. By the time the cutter returned, its target was barely a mile beyond the 12-mile limit, making it legal to intercept the vessel. Javier pleaded guilty to drug charges in San Diego and was sentenced to life in federal prison.

The cartel baton passed to the Engineer, about whom little is known. Only in January did the DEA release its first photos of the Engineer and El Teo.

The two rivals battled in a shootout that began on a major Tijuana boulevard early one Saturday morning. The army says the Engineer called a meeting to order El Teo to stop kidnappings and executions; El Teo didn't show.

The split resulted from "a lack of leadership," said Duarte Mugica, who commands more than 2,000 troops in Tijuana. "It's very likely that the Engineer didn't command respect or legitimacy."

In the ensuing war, 12 corpses were dumped near a school in September, most either without heads or without tongues. Nine more headless bodies were found in an empty lot in December. The heads of three police officers were found with their credentials stuffed in their mouths.

Duarte Mugica says the warring factions are increasingly recruiting minors because they can't find experienced criminals. Some are paid only $400 a month to guard homes where kidnap victims are held.

The Arellano Felix cartel continues to suffer setbacks. Eduardo Arellano Felix, the last of the founding brothers, was captured in October. Other allegedly key operatives were arrested last year — Saul Montes de Oca as he prepared for the Baja 250 off-road race, and Gustavo Rivera in the beach resort of San Jose del Cabo.

El Teo's camp is also in trouble; a suspected hit man and former Rosarito police officer, Angel Jacome Gamboa, was among 60 people detained in a Tijuana ballroom in March.

In January, the army raided a three-day party and captured Santiago Meza Lopez, who confessed to dissolving 300 bodies in vats of liquid over the previous year under El Teo's orders. Duarte Mugica said El Teo and two top deputies escaped to the beach five minutes before troops arrived.

The general says the Arellano Felix cartel is divided and weakened — but stops short of saying it is finished.

"It is all part of our strategy to create division," he said, "to create mistrust among themselves."



Friday, June 19, 2009

SB OKs card system for patients

Published: Thursday, June 18, 2009 11:58 AM CDT

For the last three years, Maria de la Luz Madrigal has suffered from severe rheumatoid arthritis, so severe that pain and swelling in the joints has complicated her everyday life.

"Even dressing up hurts," said Madrigal. "The pain medicine works, but I run the risk of damaging my kidneys."

Madrigal, 54, is one of 31 million Americans who suffer from some type of arthritis which limits movement. Most receive medical treatment through doctors, but some self-medicate, using marijuana as the last resource for various reasons.

Until recently, patients that see marijuana as the "best medicine" available were subject to arrest and faced criminal charges punishable with jail. But last week, the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors ended a three-year-old battle by approving an identification card system for medical marijuana users.

The decision came after the U.S. Supreme Court on May 18 rejected the county's appeal based on the argument that federal law outlaws marijuana possession and use under any circumstance, which is in direct conflict with state law that allows persons to grow, use and possess marijuana in limited quantities in certain regions.

Now, patients can start receiving their IDs within 45 days after a rigorous background check, officials said. Patients will have to fill out an application with the proper documentation at the Public Health Department. From there, the information will be transferred to the state for a final review.

Some opponents of IDs for marijuana patients argue that officers would have a dilemma when trying to enforce the law.

Frank Marino, a youth outreach volunteer with the Inland Valley Drug Free Community Coalition, said that the "county simply ran out of options" and that they were able to keep pot cards out for a very long time "and for that, the communities are grateful."

"The county's decision to now issue pot ID cards in no way forces the countless inland empire cities to allow for pot shops. These cities have already banned dispensaries and although the pro-pot groups will protest at cities to allow for pot shops, cities are bound by the law and may not authorize the operation of dispensaries, or even cooperatives or collectives, for the purpose of cultivating or distributing marijuana for medical purposes," said Marino.

"Since distribution of marijuana violates federal law, whether in a dispensary, cooperative or collective, passing a zoning ordinance which, for example, only allows such operations to be conducted in the industrial or commercial zone of a city, would still be in violation of the laws of the United States and, therefore, prohibited under G.C. 37100," he said.

However, medical marijuana advocates see the announcement as a great victory.

"We are happy with the decision, but frustrated that it took so long and it cost taxpayers so much money. The lives of patients will be so much simpler and safer now," said Bruce Mirken, spokesman for the Washington D.C.-based Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). "There will be no reason to get arrested if a person verifies that he or she is a marijuana medical user. Voters approved this in 1996, but counties such as San Bernardino frivolously spent money before enforcing the law."

In fact, in 1996 California voters approved Proposition 215, which allowed people to obtain marijuana for medical purposes with a physician's approval. That led to a 2003 Legislature decision to provide legal guidance to medical marijuana users and dispensaries opening under Senate Bill 420.

However, Marino argued that California voters "were fooled" into thinking that the law only applied to terminal ill patients.

"We have learned otherwise, as anybody can get pot for any condition, whatsoever, including hair loss, itchy skin, depression or whatever," said Marino. "We are finding lots of kids getting pot from dispensaries and selling it to other kids. In Los Angeles alone, there are more than 600 pot stores, sometimes four at an intersection. They don't have that many Starbucks in Los Angeles."

Proponents of medical marijuana usage have pointed to some medical studies indicating that cannabis can be used to treat a wide range of diseases and muscle-skeletal disorders and that it has been used in Western medicine since the 1700s.

But opponents of medical marijuana say other studies show that marijuana is generally not effective at reducing pain.

Worldwide, the use of cannabis is legal in a limited number of territories, including Canada, Austria, the Netherlands, Spain, Israel, Finland and Portugal. In the United States, states that have recognized medical marijuana include Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.

Madrigal can't wait to receive her identification that qualifies her as a legal marijuana user.

"I have done my homework and I know it works, regardless of what pharmaceutical firms or coalitions tell me," said Madrigal.

R.I.'s Vote To Allow Chronically Ill To Buy Marijuana Puts New Focus On Connecticut

By JOSH KOVNER | The Hartford Courant
June 19, 2009

Penny Bacchiochi knew people who knew people. Still, she was nervous when she paid for the marijuana and took it home. She gave it to her husband at the time, watched him smoke it gratefully — and saw something wondrous.

"He had bone cancer and was paralyzed from the waist down. He'd lost 80 pounds," said Bacchiochi, the Republican state representative from Somers. "No medication was helping with his nausea and sickness."

A doctor recommended marijuana "so I talked to some people. They got me some. When I gave it to my husband, there was a night-and-day difference. It changed the quality of his life."

That was in 1983, and her husband's experience was the reason, 24 years later, that she backed a medical marijuana bill in 2007 that sailed through the legislature but was vetoed by Gov. M. Jodi Rell.

And it was why she was moved by the actions this week of the Rhode Island legislature, which expanded legal protection to medical marijuana patients, and by the words of Tom Slater, a cancer-stricken state representative from Providence.

Rhode Island approved "compassion centers" — places where chronically ill Rhode Island residents who are registered with the state's health department and have a prescription from a doctor may buy pot to ease their pain. Before the legislature acted Tuesday, Rhode Island patients could grow a certain amount of marijuana for personal use but could not buy it legally.

"This gives a safe haven for those who have to go into seedy areas to try and get marijuana," Slater, a Democrat, said to a standing ovation at the State House on Tuesday after lawmakers overrode Rhode Island Gov. Don Carcieri's veto. Slater said that he plans to smoke marijuana for pain relief.

There are 700 medical marijuana patients registered with the Rhode Island health department and 582 caregivers who may purchase marijuana on behalf of someone else, said agency spokeswoman Annemarie Beardsworth.

Bacchiochi said that compared with the new Rhode Island law, Connecticut's proposal "was a baby step." It would have allowed patients with conditions such as cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis or AIDS to grow up to four marijuana plants in their homes with a doctor's prescription. The bill was approved by wide margins in the Connecticut House and Senate in 2007 — when polls showed that 83 percent of Connecticut residents supported the legislation. But Rell vetoed the measure, saying that she sympathized with those in pain but felt that it would force people to seek out drug dealers to buy marijuana. The legislature lacked the votes to override her veto.

Bacchiochi, whose 52nd District consists of Somers, Stafford and Union, said that she reintroduced the bill earlier this year but did not press it after she was told that the governor had not changed her position.

"It's an issue the governor has carefully weighed and with which she has admittedly struggled," Rell spokeswoman Donna Tommelleo said Thursday. "However, she has made it clear that there are legal alternatives available and has concerns that it would send the wrong message to our youth. Further, the bill that came before her in 2007 made no provision for monitoring the drug's use or effectiveness."

The movement is gaining steam nationally, said Dan Bernath of the Washington, D.C.-based Medical Marijuana Project. Thirteen states provide protection to patients who use marijuana under a doctor's care, and the administration of President Barack Obama has said that it would not spend federal money going after people who are using marijuana legally.

Rhode Island joined California and New Mexico as the only states to permit marijuana sales to chronically ill people.

At least eight other states are considering similar legislation, including New Hampshire and Maine.

Bacchiochi said that the issue is worth fighting for in Connecticut.

"I look forward to being part of a legislature that takes this compassionate step," she said.

NC House committee rebuffs medical pot proponents

NC House committee rebuffs medical pot proponents

The Associated Press • June 19, 2009 12:15 AM

RALEIGH — People who say they smoke marijuana to relieve chronic pain asked House members Thursday to legalize its possession and cultivation for medicinal use, but a bill discussed in committee isn't likely to be considered again this year.

"There's just not enough support," said Rep. Bob England, D-Rutherford, co-chairman of the House Health Committee that took testimony but didn't vote on the medical marijuana bill.

The proposal debated by the committee would exempt from state prosecution patients or caregivers who possess a small amount of marijuana or producers of the drug, which supporters say relieves their suffering.

Bill proponents cite studies that find smoking marijuana can ease the pain and nausea associated with chemotherapy and other chronic conditions and improve the appetite for sickly patients better than other pharmaceuticals with fewer side effects.

Jones' bill would limit use to patients who are diagnosed by a doctor with a "debilitating medical condition" or possession by a caregiver and would receive a two-month maximum supply.

Jones said the state could generate $60 million annually by requiring initial $1,000 fees for producers and $2,000 for those who dispense the drug, and by levying a 10 percent tax on gross revenues for both groups.

Some committee members were skeptical, suggesting other traditional prescription drugs could bring the same pain relief and arguing that marijuana — the most frequently used illegal substance in the United States — is a dangerous drug.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

PA Laywers group to support Marijuana

, legislation to enact a regulated medical marijuana program in PA.

In a letter written to Pennsylvanians for Medical Marijuana (PA4MMJ) and the bill’s sponsor Rep. Mark B. Cohen, the NLG stated, “We pledge our support to this important health care initiative. This proposal would allow seriously ill patients who find relief from marijuana to use it with their doctor’s approval.” Read full pdf

Many legal groups including the ACLU and associations of criminal defense attorneys have shown active support for modernizing state laws allowing citizens to use therapeutic cannabis; as is already the case in thirteen states.

HB1393 was introduced on April 29th in Harrisburg and would allow for home cultivation of up to six plants, possession of up to one ounce of medical cannabis and the creation of a registry card system overseen by the Department of Health. The bill even outlines program regisatration fees and potential tax revenue from medical marijuana sold at Compassion Centers in the Commonwealth.

Derek Rosenzweig a coordinator of PA4MMJ said, "It's wonderful to have such a prestigious group endorse the Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act. Attorneys see firsthand how the law affects the lives of patients who get arrested for their use of medical marijuana, and the NLG should be praised for speaking out about the need to protect patients who use medical marijuana from arrest.”

Support has been building for the medical cannabis bill in Pennsylvania. There have been added co-sponsors, generous media overage and the issue is treated with great seriousness by legislators overall. The NLG has a membership of self-proclaimed progressive civil rights attorneys, many of whom volunteer to be legal observers for protests and civil disobedience actions. The group rarely takes a stand on legislation.

Said Rosenzweig. “Pennsylvanians for Medical Marijuana is glad to have them on our side."

PA4MMJ asks that PA residents contact their legislators and the members of the House Health and Human Services Committee right away. Click Here to Contact

More information about the bill and medical marijuana in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is available at www.pa4mmj.org or Rep. Mark B. Cohen’s medical cannabis page http://www.pahouse.com/Cohen/med_marijuana_info.asp

Please contact PA4MMJ spokesman Chris Goldstein media@phillynorml.org for any immediate media inquiries.

LA City Council to close loophole to file hardship

7:18 PM | June 16, 2009

The Los Angeles City Council had planned today to close a loophole in its ban on new medical marijuana dispensaries, but the logistics of drafting the legislation delayed a vote until Friday.

The moratorium, which was passed in 2007, has inadvertantly prevented Los Angeles from taking legal steps to shut dispensaries that have opened despite the ban. The city attorney’s office has said it can not act against dispensaries that have requests for exemptions pending before the City Council.

Until last week, the council had acted on none of them. That encouraged dispensaries to open and then file for exemptions, knowing that would prevent city officials from shutting them down.

Since the council voted last week to close the loophole by accepting no more exemption applications, another 90 dispensaries have asked for exemptions. So far, about 640 exemption applications have been filed. Last week, the council denied a dozen.

-- John Hoeffel

RI allows medical marijuana sales

RI allows medical marijuana sales

NBC 10's Bill Rappleye reports.

Published: June 16, 2009

PROVIDENCE—Rhode Island became the third state in
the nation Tuesday to permit marijuana sales to
chronically ill patients.

Lawmakers in the General Assembly voted Tuesday
to override a veto from the Republican governor,
who warned the measure will promote illegal drug
use. The override vote was unanimous in the
House. Senators voted 35-3 to override.

Rhode Island began allowing medical patients to
possess marijuana in 2006, but it never created a
sanctioned means of buying the drug. About 600
Rhode Islanders are enrolled in the state's
Medical Marijuana Program.

"This gives a safe haven for those who have to go
into seedy areas to try to get marijuana," said
Rep. Thomas Slater, the bill's sponsor.

The law allows three licensed compassion centers
to sell marijuana and equipment to registered
patients. But before the dispensaries can open,
the state Department of Health has to issue
regulations and set up a licensing process.

Gov. Don Carcieri released a statement saying he
was disappointed by the override and that the law
will create a public perception that Rhode Island
is complacent about illegal drugs.

President Barack Obama's administration has said
it will not target stores that comply with state

Rhode Island becomes the third state, after
California and New Mexico, to allow dispensaries
for medical marijuana.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Pot shops ban in Grass Valley extended to 1 year

By Liz Kellar
Staff Writer

June 13, 2009

A moratorium on medical marijuana shops was extended to one year during a
Grass Valley City Council meeting Friday.

The council had enacted a 45-day moratorium April 28 after police Chief John
Foster requested the emergency ordinance, telling council members crime has
escalated around other marijuana dispensaries in California.

At the April meeting, council members said they did not want a full-fledged
ban and asked Foster and city staff to come up with rules and regulations
about medical pot shops in case anyone applied to open one. Since then, an
application for a medical marijuana business license has been turned into
Foster, but it has not been formally filed with the city.

Foster requested an extension on the moratorium Friday, telling the council
members his staff needed more time to create a regulatory ordinance. The
extension would be for 10 months and 15 days; Foster said he didn't think
additional time would be needed beyond that.

Carole Chapman of Americans for Safe Access, a Grass Valley resident, was
one of only two people who addressed the council during the very lightly
attended meeting.

"I'm sorry to hear you're extending the moratorium," she said. "I think this
is something the city needs."

Both Mayor Lisa Swarthout and Vice Mayor Jan Arbuckle pressed Foster for a
quicker end to the moratorium, possibly within four months.

"I'd like to bring this matter to a closure, depending on staff time,"
Foster said. "It's my hope to get this done as quick as possible."

"The quicker we get something on the books, the better," Swarthout said.

Councilman Chauncey Poston asked Foster to look into whether a medical
marijuana dispensary could only be located within a medical office building.

"That would cut down on the fears about crime, if it was not in a downtown
retail area," he said.

Proximity to schools and traffic issues were some of the main concerns
Swarthout had received, she said, adding that issuing use permits might be
the most appropriate way to regulate the dispensaries.

In the end, the council voted unanimously to extend the moratorium, although
Swarthout reiterated that she didn't believe it would be in place for the
entire year.

After the vote, Chapman said she was "fine" with the extension.

"The sooner, the better," she said. "This will help the community; we need
the revenue."

County Prepares to Issue ID Cards

By Jacqui Nguyen FOX 5 San Diego Staff

June 11, 2009

Medical marijuana advocates are calling the identification cards the first
step by county officials to embrace medical marijuana.

Next month, officials with the county health and human services will begin
issuing identification cards to patients.

Sean Grady is co-owner, advocate and is a user of marijuana for medical
purposes. In his early 20's, Grady was involved in multiple motorcycle
crashes. Doctors prescribed pharmaceutical medications for his injuries.
Years of taking the medications affected his liver, according to Grady. A
year ago, his doctor gave him the approval to use marijuana for medicinal

"The initiation of the current program is key to protecting patients," Grady

Grady is co-owner and operator of the Pacific Beach Collective on Turquoise
Street. The doors to the collective opened in mid-May. Grady welcomes
members through a stringent proces.

"We only accept the written verification. I need to see the ink signature
from the doctor," Grady said.

Currently, Grady carries two cards with him everywhere he goes. One card is
issued through his collective, a second card is from his doctor. Soon, he'll
have a third card issued by the county.

The county department of health and human services will start accepting
applications next month. Here are the requirements: you'll have to download
an application from the county's website, show proof that you're a San Diego
county resident, and documents from your medical provider. Be prepared to
shell out $166 per applicant. The county gets to keep $100 and $66 go to the
state of California.

Dr. Dean Sidelinger is the deputy public health officer for the county.
According to him, the county is gearing up and making sure extra staff is
ready on the first day when the applications are accepted.

"Once the client has the card, they're responsible for following state and
federal laws," Dr. Sidelinger said.

Grady calls the ID cards program a protection and the beginning of a victory
for medical marijuana users. He hopes through education, he can dispel the
negative image.

"Everything that's happened in the past few weeks is very inspirational. I'm
ready to eliminate the 'us against them' situation," Grady said.

The county will update its website by June 26th to have information about
the application process. Don't expect to get the cards right away. It will
take up to 35 days after you apply before you get your ID card.

In the past 10 months, Orange county issued 20 cards a month. In San
Francisco county, 250 cards are issued each month. The question remains how
many cards will be issued here for San Diego county.

#66 day sentence for Lynch


A federal judge sentenced the owner of a Central California medical
marijuana dispensary to a year and a day in prison Thursday, spurning
the Obama administration's push to give the defendant five years
imprisonment in a test case of new federal policies toward state pot

Charles Lynch's case was the first to reach court after Attorney
General Eric Holder announced in March that the administration would
target only traffickers who violated both state and federal drug laws
in California and 12 other states that allow the medical use of
marijuana. The Justice Department said Lynch was properly convicted
and shouldn't get leniency, despite his insistence that he complied
with state law.

Lynch, former operator of Central Coast Compassionate Caregivers in
Morro Bay (San Luis Obispo County), is the latest of several marijuana
defendants to receive lighter-than-usual sentences for violating
federal drug laws after arguing that they were complying with
California's voter-approved medical marijuana law.

Federal courts have ruled that the 1996 state law, which allows
patients to use the drug with their doctor's approval, is no defense
to a charge of violating U.S. laws prohibiting marijuana possession,
cultivation and distribution. But some federal judges have taken the
state law into account in sentencing.

U.S. District Judge George Wu of Los Angeles didn't spell out his
reasons for exempting Lynch, 47, from the five-year sentence normally
required by federal law for conspiring to grow and distribute
marijuana. But Wu noted that Lynch ran his dispensary openly, with a
business license and the awareness of local elected officials, before
federal agents raided it in 2007.

At a previous hearing, however, he made it clear that Lynch had to
spend at least a year in prison because one of his customers was a
minor, whose parents obtained marijuana at the dispensary. Lynch
remains free during his appeal, which will challenge Wu's refusal to
allow evidence that a federal drug agent had allegedly assured Lynch
he would not be prosecuted.

The judge "was trying to do everything he could to minimize the
sentence," said Joe Elford, a lawyer for the advocacy group Americans
for Safe Access. "This is another case where a federal judge has
indicated to the Department of Justice that these cases are not worth

Prosecutors could ask an appeals court to overrule Wu and order a five-
year sentence. The U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles is
considering an appeal, said spokesman Thom Mrozek.

"This was a large-scale commercial operator," Mrozek said, referring
to prosecutors' assertion that Lynch had sold $2.1 million in
marijuana products for profit. "He didn't fit the criteria of being a
caregiver" under state law.

Federal prosecutors in California, including U.S. Attorney Joseph
Russoniello of San Francisco, have argued that marijuana dispensaries
- even licensed businesses approved by local authorities - are
commercial enterprises that violate state as well as federal law and
can still be prosecuted under Obama administration policy.

In announcing the new policy in March, Holder did not say how it would
apply to defendants already awaiting trial or sentencing after being
charged by Bush administration prosecutors. Citing Holder's
announcement, Wu asked for a formal Justice Department statement in
Lynch's case and was promptly told that Lynch's prosecution,
conviction and proposed five-year sentence were consistent with the
attorney general's position.

Medical marijuana advocates, who wore green "compassion" buttons in
the packed courtroom, had mixed reactions to the sentence, praising Wu
for leniency but criticizing the imposition of any prison term.

"This was a guy who tried very hard to do everything by the book,
working with the city, getting a business license," said Bruce Mirken
of the Marijuana Policy Project. "To treat this man as a criminal, a
felony drug dealer feels counter to the spirit of the policy Mr.
Holder announced."

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Federal Judge Suggests Leniency for Medical Marijuana Sentencing

Federal Judge Suggests Leniency for Medical Marijuana Sentencing

DOJ recommends prison time despite new policy, no evidence of state law violations

Los Angeles, CA -- The Justice Department is seeking a mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years for state and locally sanctioned medical marijuana provider Charles C. Lynch, despite statements of a new policy and no evidence of state law violations. Lynch was convicted in federal court in 2008 under the Bush Administration and will be sentenced this Thursday at 9:30am in Los Angeles federal district court. At a previous hearing, Judge George H. Wu indicated that he doesn't think this case "is one which merits a mandatory minimum" sentence. However, a legal brief recently filed by the government called the legality of Lynch's conduct under state law "irrelevant" to his recommended sentence, seemingly in contrast with statements by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder that the Justice Department would only target those in violation of both federal and state law.

"With no clear evidence that Charles Lynch was in violation of state law, it's very disingenuous for the federal government to seek prison time in this case," said Joe Elford, Chief Counsel with the national advocacy group Americans for Safe Access (ASA). "Despite this aggressive stance by the federal government, even the judge has expressed skepticism that Lynch deserves prison time." Elford argued at an April 23rd hearing that no hard evidence of state law violations had been brought by the government, despite such allegations made by U.S. Attorney Thomas O'Brien. In response to a request by Judge Wu for written clarification on the government's new medical marijuana policy, the Deputy Attorney General's office responded that Lynch's case was unaffected.

What: Sentencing hearing for medical marijuana provider Charles C. Lynch
When: Thursday, June 11th at 9:30am
Where: Los Angeles Federal Court, 312 N. Spring Street, Courtroom 10

Senator Obama's campaign promise that he was "not going to be using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws" on medical marijuana was followed up with more nuanced statements by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder that the Justice Department would still "go after those people who violate both federal and state law." Confusion around the government's policy ensued as several medical marijuana providers were raided by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) even after President Obama took office.

Responding to this confusion, Congressman Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) requested clarification Tuesday within the Commerce, Justice and Science Departments (CJS) Appropriations bill. "It's imperative that the federal government respect states' rights and stay out of the way of patients with debilitating diseases such as cancer who are using medical marijuana in accordance with state law to alleviate their pain," said Hinchey in a press release issued Tuesday. "We applaud Congressman Hinchey's leadership on this issue and his attempt to restrict interference by the federal government in medical marijuana states," said Caren Woodson, ASA's Director of Government Affairs.

"Lynch's case is only one of more than two dozen pending federal cases," said Elford. "If the federal government believes these cases involve violations of state law, then they should allow them to be decided in the state courts." Because of the June 2005 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Gonzales v. Raich, federal medical marijuana defendants are prohibited from entering evidence related to medical marijuana or their compliance with local and state laws. Advocates are demanding that the federal government cease such prosecutions or remove them to state court where evidence can properly be heard.

Before his medical marijuana dispensary was raided by Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents in March of 2007, Lynch had operated for 11 months without incident, and with the blessing of the Morro Bay City Council, the local Chamber of Commerce, and other community members. Two months after Lynch closed his dispensary, Central Coast Compassionate Caregivers, he was indicted and charged with conspiracy to possess and possession with intent to distribute marijuana and concentrated cannabis, manufacturing more than 100 plants, knowingly maintaining a drug premises, and sales of marijuana to a person under the age of 21. None of the federal charges constitute violations of local or state law.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Taxing and Regulating Makes Sense for California

Regulating and taxing pot makes sense for California

By F. Aaron Smith
Updated: 06/09/2009 05:13:05 PM PDT

THE resounding defeat of five ballot initiatives aimed at closing California's enormous budget gap should be interpreted as a clear message to Sacramento: Voters want innovative solutions to this budget mess, not more of the same old gimmicks and borrowing schemes.

One such outside-the-box proposal that should be passed immediately is A.B. 390 - Assemblyman Tom Ammiano's bill to tax and regulate marijuana.

California's marijuana crop brings in nearly $14 billion a year - more than our vegetables and grapes, combined. But the state sees no taxes from this massive industry - a direct result of laws prohibiting marijuana that have completely failed at their intended goal, to curb marijuana use.

When California first outlawed marijuana in 1913, it was virtually unheard of. Now, one in 10 Californians report having used marijuana at least annually and more than 2 million monthly. Marijuana has become so pervasive in our culture that it's the subject of a popular Showtime series and the futility of prohibition has become fodder for comedians and late night talk show hosts.

Even Gov. Schwarzenegger - a past marijuana user himself - once joked that marijuana isn't a drug but merely "a leaf."

The truth is that our marijuana laws have been a disastrous failure and are by no means a laughing matter.

Marijuana prohibition is clearly no joke for the victims of Mexico's drug cartels, which obtain at least 60 percent of their revenue from illegal marijuana in much the same way mobsters benefited during alcohol prohibition.

California taxpayers forced to pay for costly enforcement efforts that have done nothing to stop illegal marijuana dealers from getting rich without any oversight or taxation aren't laughing either - certainly not while the state is in the midst of a fiscal meltdown.

Astonishingly, Schwarzenegger told CNN May 27 that marijuana prohibition in California "has worked very well." Is he serious? Despite 74,000 marijuana arrests and millions of plants seized at great expense to taxpayers every year, marijuana is our state's top cash crop, and more California teens smoke marijuana than cigarettes. And all of the profits go to criminals rather than legal, law-abiding businesses.

If that is success, what on earth would failure look like?

Historically, states have routinely been ahead of the federal government in driving public policy on a number of issues - from women's suffrage to environmental protection. California's unique budget challenges and Ammiano's bill present a golden opportunity for the state to finally replace the failed policy of prohibition with a sensible marijuana policy that could serve as a model for the rest of the nation.

California voters are taking marijuana policy reform more seriously than ever before. A recent Field Poll found that legalizing, taxing and regulating marijuana is one of the most popular revenue-enhancing proposals being considered in Sacramento today. More than 55 percent of voters support taxing marijuana - that's more than double the support for supposedly more mainstream ideas such as sales or gas tax hikes.

Voters aren't too keen on making many budget cuts either. Faced with drastic cuts to schools, police and health care and the possible closure of more than 200 state parks, Californians are understandably upset and angry. Prison spending is the only part of the state budget that a significant majority of voters are willing to cut.

A good place to start would be with nonviolent marijuana offenders - a segment of the prison population that has exploded in recent years.

Nobody claims that taxing and regulating marijuana will fix California's budget crisis by itself. But with a strong consensus that marijuana prohibition isn't working, fixing this failed policy should be one of the easiest pieces to the long-term budget puzzle.

Before moving on to the more controversial budget solutions that will undoubtedly be required in California, Sacramento's policymakers should get behind Ammiano's marijuana legislation. It's not only sound public policy, it's good politics.

F. Aaron Smith is the California policy director for the Marijuana Policy Project (www.MPP.org), a national advocacy group working to end marijuana prohibition.