Thursday, July 30, 2009

Drug Cartels in CA Sierras

Cartels Turn U.S. Forests Into Marijuana Plantations, Creating Toxic

By PHIL TAYLOR of Greenwire
July 30, 2009

Empty turtle shells, decaying skunk carcasses and a set of deer antlers
lay strewn about an empty campsite in California's Sierra National

The butchered animals, as well as several five-pound propane canisters,
camp stoves and heaps of trash, were all that remained of the 69
marijuana plantations recently uncovered in Fresno County as part of
operation "Save our Sierras."

The massive operation that began in February has already seized about
318,000 marijuana plants worth an estimated $1.1 billion, officials
announced last week. In addition to 82 arrests, the multi-jurisdictiona l
federal, state and local operation netted 42 pounds of processed
marijuana, more than $40,000 in cash, 25 weapons and three vehicles.

"Mexican drug trafficking organizations have been operating on public
lands to cultivate marijuana, with serious consequences for the
environment and public safety," said Gil Kerlikowske, chief of the White
House's Office of National Drug Control Policy at a briefing on the

Subjects arrested were booked on charges of cultivation of marijuana,
possession for sale, possession of a firearm during commission of a
felony and conspiracy.

The drug plantations are as much an environmental menace as they are a
public safety threat.

Growers in Fresno County used a cocktail of pesticides and fertilizers
many times stronger than what is used on residential lawns to cultivate
their crop. "This stuff leaches out pretty quickly," said Shane Krogen,
executive director of the High Sierra Volunteer Trail Crew in charge of
helping clear the land of chemicals and trash so it can begin its slow

While the chemical pesticides kill insects and other organisms directly,
fertilizer runoff contaminates local waterways and aids in the growth of
algae and weeds. The vegetation in turn impedes water flows that are
critical to frogs, toads and salamanders in the Kings and San Joaquin
rivers, Krogen said.

Northward-shifting operations

The Sierra operations are the latest in a growing number of illegal
plantations run by foreign suppliers who have moved north of the
U.S.-Mexico border where they are closer to U.S. drug markets. Of the 82
individuals arrested in the "Save our Sierras" sting, all but two were
Mexican or some other foreign nationality.

Bankrolled by sophisticated drug cartels, suppliers are sidestepping
border patrols to grow in relative obscurity on Forest Service, Bureau
of Land Management and National Park Service lands across the West and
even into the Southeast.

"It's easier to cross the border to grow marijuana on public lands than
to grow it in Mexico and smuggle it across," Krogen said.

Earlier this month, $2.5 million worth of marijuana was seized from a
sophisticated pot-growing operation in the mountains near Colorado's
Cheesman Reservoir in the Pike National Forest. In early June, hikers in
a remote area of southwest Idaho stumbled upon a marijuana crop that
netted 12,545 marijuana plants with an estimated street value of $6.3

"There is a growing issue of marijuana cultivation on public lands in
the U.S., especially in California and Oregon, and it appears they have
discovered southwestern Idaho," said BLM special agent in charge Loren

Temperate climates on the West Coast have nurtured what has become a
booming marijuana market. The number of marijuana plants confiscated by
Forest Service officials has risen by an average of 51 percent in each
of the past four years, reaching a high of 3.3 million plants in 2008.

The number of plants seized in California national forests alone has
risen steadily from 569,000 in 2003 to 2.4 million in 2008.

"It's definitely a trend," said Keith McGrath, a law enforcement officer
in BLM's Idaho office who was part of last month's raid in a far-flung
desert canyon.

"We're seeing a shift to more organized grows and larger grows," McGrath
said. "They're being set up and run through the cartels, and it's
becoming a big chunk of our work load."

Strengthening law enforcement

Federal agencies are responding by beefing up law enforcement patrols
and investing in technologies like helicopter surveillance and unmanned
aerial drones to track down marijuana growers operating in California's
lush woodlands.

Forest Service law enforcement staff was doubled from 14 to 28 agents in
California between 2007 and 2008, said spokesman John Heil, resulting in
the eradication of 3.1 million marijuana plants in the last fiscal year.

Congress is responding too, with a recent $3 million supplemental
appropriation secured by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) that allowed
the Park Service to add 25 new law enforcement officers to its Pacific
Region parks, said Ron Sundergill, regional director for the Washington,
D.C.-based National Parks Conservation Association.

Sundergill applauded the land management agencies for increasing the
pressure on illegal growers but said he fears such efforts are depleting
agencies' already-thin budgets for things like interpretive services and
ranger tours.

"Our parks shouldn't have to spend their limited resources fighting drug
cartels when those resources could instead be used to educate and
inspire our children -- the future stewards of our national parks,"
Sundergill said.

More money is likely to be provided if Congress approves Interior's
fiscal 2010 budget later this year. Feinstein, who chairs the
subcommittee in charge of Interior spending, said she was concerned over
the increasing threat of drug cartels on public lands and would look to
increase resources for enforcement.

Meanwhile, agency officials say they will remain vigilant in seeking out
marijuana growers, even as they venture deeper into the nation's public
lands network.

"As more pressure happens in California, they're going to start looking
at Oregon, Nevada and Idaho," said Krogen, of the High Sierra Volunteer
Trail Crew. "Then they'll start looking at the Southeast too, closer to
distribution. "

http://www.nytimes. com/gwire/ 2009/07/30/ 30greenwire- cartels-turn- us-fore\
sts-into-marijuana- plantat-41908. html

San Diego Medical Marijuana News: Dispensaries might be banned

REGION: County may temporarily ban pot dispensaries

By the North County times
Wednesday, July 29, 2009 8:04 PM PDT

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors will decide Wednesday whether
to impose a 45-day moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries.

If approved by supervisors, the county will join the North County cities
of Escondido and Oceanside, which have taken similar steps in recent

County officials say the move is part of an effort to create a new
ordinance governing where and how medical marijuana establishments may
operate in the unincorporated areas.

Joe Farace, a county planning manager, said department officials
probably will ask the supervisors to extend the moratorium another 10
months, after the 45-day period, because the ordinance will take longer
to draft.

Farace said the county will look at state guidelines, released by the
Attorney General's office last year, and ordinances developed by other
cities and counties.

http://www.nctimes. com/articles/ 2009/07/29/ /news/sandiego/ /zd250dae48b44\
ea5b882576020072601 1.txt

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Ventura County Reconsidering Stance on Medical Marijuana

Ventura to consider nonprofit medical pot outlets

By Kevin Clerici
Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Ventura City Council indicated this week that it's willing to
take a serious look at allowing medical marijuana collectives to operate
legally in the city.

Medical marijuana patients hailed the decision, but top city and police
officials cautioned that pot clubs could pose enforcement and regulatory
challenges and bring increased crime.

After a long discussion and impassioned public input, the City Council
voted unanimously Monday night to enact a yearlong moratorium on medical
pot operations as it studies how to craft language allowing nonprofit
collectives, which typically are operated by medical marijuana users and
focused on patient care.

Pot dispensaries, on the other hand, are often run like for-profit
stores and should not be considered, said Councilman Ed Summers, who
made the motion.

"I really believe there are valid medical uses," said Summers,
who favored a yearlong ban to allow further study despite some
people's concerns that such a ban would send the wrong message.

Los Angeles has been overwhelmed with dispensaries capitalizing on
loopholes because the city "didn't do it right" when it
drafted its rules, Summers said. Ventura's temporary ban, he said,
would "start the clock ticking while the city develops the right

No city or unincorporated area in Ventura County currently allows
medical marijuana operations. Some cities, including Moorpark, Oxnard
and Thousand Oaks, have adopted temporary moratoriums. Camarillo just
extended its ban. Simi Valley enacted a permanent one.

The Oxnard City Council explored allowing dispensaries when it enacted a
moratorium in November 2005 but later backed down because of unresolved
conflicts between state and federal law.

Dozens of medicinal marijuana patients and supporters filled Ventura
City Hall on Monday, urging the council to give them a fair shake.

Although their comments were limited to two minutes, patients shared
stories of how medical pot has helped them cope with pain and lead
productive lives. They complained about how they have to drive to Santa
Barbara, Malibu or the San Fernando Valley to buy their medicine.

Backers, stressing the medical benefits and how legal outlets could
provide a potential financial windfall for the city, urged the council
to show compassion and create a regulated, taxed program for nonprofit
marijuana collectives under Proposition 215, the Compassionate Use Act
of 1996. The act permits patients to legally use medicinal marijuana in

Attorneys who specialize in medical marijuana laws volunteered to help
the city devise rules.

"It can be done, it should be done, it needs to be done," said
Duke Smith, a longtime patient, former Los Angeles pot club operator and
founder of Citizens for Safe Access, an advocacy group.

Although Mayor Christy Weir and Councilman Jim Monahan said they
preferred a permanent ban on any form of pot outlet, both ultimately
supported the moratorium and potential legalization process, which would
have to return to the council for adoption by a majority vote.

Afterward, the mayor said pot clubs would be a "disservice" to
the community and Police Department. "I'm usually in favor of
shopping locally, but these establishments would do more harm than good
in our community," she said.

Council members Brian Brennan, Carl Morehouse and Neal Andrews
disagreed, voicing support for the careful crafting of new regulations.
It was time the city "treat the issue with the dignity and respect
it deserves," said Brennan.

Recent polling shows more than half of Californians support legalizing
and taxing marijuana, and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder pledged in
March to no longer take action against medical marijuana dispensaries if
they comply with state and local laws.

Ventura City Manager Rick Cole expressed concerns about how the city
would enforce new rules and warned that pot outlets, even ones run by
well-intentioned owners, could cause complaints from neighbors and
increased crime.

Police Chief Pat Miller told the council he didn't have the
resources to regulate or monitor a new program and that other
communities have experienced problems with such clubs. "Any time you
have a lot of money involved, you have a lot of people coming out the
woodwork to make it and take it," he said.

The California Police Chiefs Association has said that marijuana clubs
across the state are little more than fronts for drug dealers.

Prosecutor Gregory Brose of the Ventura County District Attorney's
Office urged the city to develop rules to block dispensaries, which, he
said, were illegal.

Pot patients agreed. Instead, they pointed to the four nonprofit
collectives in Oakland that are operating legally and with city permits
— and cited a new tax on them supported overwhelmingly last week by
Oakland voters to help the cash-strapped city. They argued Ventura could
charge higher licensing fees to pay for increased city and police
oversight, require on-site security, and mandate that the clubs be far
away from schools and homes.

After the council decision, some patients said they were so accustomed
to rejection that they were unsure whether to believe Ventura was
serious about creating a legal path, particularly with the mayor's
opposition. Others were encouraged, giving each other high-fives and

"I hope tonight's vote was a serious and meaningful step to
providing Venturans with lawful and safe access to medical
marijuana," said Jay Leiderman, a local criminal attorney who
volunteered his services to the city. "One year is a long time to
freeze an issue and study it, and I hope all the positives from
tonight's meeting don't die a slow death in bureaucratic

Councilman Andrews, who worked in the healthcare industry for 35 years,
said state law encourages local governments to help make distribution of
medical marijuana safe and affordable for seriously ill patients.

"It's time we take that direction, embrace it and find the right
solution for our community," he said.

http://www.venturac ountystar. com/news/ 2009/jul/ 29/ventura- to-consider- no\
nprofit-medical- pot/

Oakland Marijuana Regulation News

Oakland proposes statewide semi-legalization of pot

Donna Tam/The Times-Standard
Posted: 07/29/2009 01:24:22 AM PDT

Oakland marijuana activists are looking for nearly 434,000 signatures statewide to support a ballot measure that would allow adults 21 and over to possess up to an ounce of pot.

Organizers filed the measure with the California Attorney General's Office Tuesday with the hopes of getting enough signatures to include the measure -- which would also allow homeowners to grow marijuana for personal use on garden plots up to 25 square feet -- on the November 2010 ballot.

The initiative comes on the heels of several initiatives moving toward legalizing and regulating marijuana, prompting some local activists and officials to point to California's failing economy and changing attitudes as impetus.

”Marijuana is California's largest cash crop,” said Greg Allen, an attorney who has been a medical marijuana activist for more than a decade. Allen said the latest movements toward taxing marijuana will have significant economic benefits for the state. Legalizing it would also lower the price of marijuana, possibly leading to less criminalized behavior associated with the underground marijuana market, Allen said.

”If marijuana were legalized in the state of California there would be lower law enforcement costs, pretty much from prosecuting to paper clips to police officers. And, it would clearly lower incarceration costs,” he said, adding that law enforcement efforts could then be directed toward other issues of greater concern.

Humboldt County Sheriff Gary Philp said his department already makes an effort to not go far beyond the necessary boundaries when it comes to marijuana enforcement.

”We make an overt effort not to deal with people who are meeting the legal requirements,” he said. “We don't enforce the federal laws, so if people are within legal guidelines, then we move on and are just dealing with commercial illegal efforts.”

Philp said some legislators may see the marijuana industry as “a cash cow,” one they can regulate and make money off of, but it is difficult to tell how legalization would really play out.

According to numbers released by the state Board of Equalization earlier this month, marijuana is estimated to be a $14 billion industry in California. The board estimated that taxation of the drug could result in nearly $1.4 billion in revenue.

Humboldt County District Attorney Paul Gallegos said the decriminalization of marijuana would save his department time and resources.

He said while he's not an advocate for a marijuana lifestyle, he thinks decriminalization would be a positive step for the county since it could reduce the amount of robberies and other illicit activities involved in the black market. He estimates that the cost of marijuana in the county is about $4,000 a pound.

”What you have is a drug that's readily accessible, legal and completely without regulations,” Gallegos said. “There are more regulations on dog ownership than on medical marijuana. Let's decriminalize it and move on.”

Patricia Welch, local Republican Party chairwoman, said she is concerned that decriminalization could mean more access for minors.

”Part of it is saying this is OK to have this because adults can,” she said, adding that she doesn't see how the state can regulate an industry as large and underground as marijuana.

While some may agree with Welch, it seems that public perception of marijuana is changing.

A Field Poll earlier this year found that 56 percent of California voters supported legalizing and taxing marijuana.

Dale Gieringer, coordinator for the California chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, said public polls have taken a dramatic shift this year with a majority of residents in California and the other Western states saying they favor legalization.

”There's a lot of enthusiasm now and impatience for changing the law ... . There's an enormous swing in opinion I think partly because of the administration change, but largely in part due to the economy,” Gieringer said.

The recent measure's main backer is Oakland medical marijuana entrepreneur Richard Lee, who helped push a first-of-its- kind tax on city medical marijuana dispensaries that passed with 80 percent of the vote last week in Oakland.

Gieringer said this measure will have the financial backing to push the measure through.

”The one to watch would be this one,” he said.

A similar but less restrictive pot legalization initiative was filed two weeks ago by a group of Northern California criminal defense lawyers.

That one -- the Tax, Regulate and Control Cannabis Act of 2010 -- would set no specific limits on the amount of pot adults could possess or grow for personal use. The measure would repeal all local and state marijuana laws and clear the criminal record of anyone convicted of a pot-related offense.

Both ballot measures would be competing with a bill introduced by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano to tax and regulate marijuana like alcohol.

The San Francisco Democrat is pushing legalization as a way to generate revenue for the cash-starved state from its massive marijuana industry. He plans to hold hearings on the legislation this fall.

Ammiano said his bill and the ballot initiatives are all part of a “perfect storm” that will lead to marijuana legalization.

”All this is beneficial at this stage in the game,” he said.

Americans for Safe Access spokesman Kris Hermes said he hopes attempts to legalize marijuana do not endanger the efforts of medical marijuana advocates. He said he does not know what kind of fallout these initiatives may have, but ASA does not support any legislation for legalization or even additionally taxing medical marijuana.

”We as an organization don't support recreational use,” Hermes said. “We're working to increase protection for patients and expand access really across the country.”

Allen said that legalization can be a positive thing for medical marijuana, helping to improve its image overall and therefore improve patient access and its medicinal quality.

”The medical cannabis community can be an example to the marijuana community in general by doing the right thing -- following the law, paying their taxes -- being a part the community,” he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Donna Tam can be reached at 441-0532 or dtam@times-standard .com.

http://www.times- standard. com/localnews/ ci_12936084

Colorado Marijuana News

The state will need a pot of money to maintain the medical marijuana

published: July 30, 2009

Medical marijuana patients scored a victory last week when the Colorado
Board of Health rejected a change to state regulations on the subject.
The change would have limited to five the number of patients that can be
served by "caregivers, " a nebulous group that includes an
ever-increasing number of medical marijuana dispensaries.

But the vote created potential losers, too – namely, the Colorado
Department of Public Health and Environment, which manages the state's
medical marijuana registry.

It's estimated that there will be 15,000 patients on that registry by
the end of 2009, up from 2,000 two years ago. To keep up, the state
needs more manpower and more money, says State Registrar Ron Hyman.

Each new medical marijuana patient pays a $90 fee — which, if the
prediction of 15,000 patients this year holds true, would add up to
$1.35 million — but CDPHE can't tap into that money without the
state legislature' s blessing, says Colorado's chief medical officer, Ned
Calonge. And lawmakers could decide to use the money for other purposes.

"We're still wrestling with what our options are," Calonge says.

The central question seems to be this: Can the state, mired in a budget
crisis, afford to run its booming medical marijuana program? And after
hearing the testimony of AIDS patients and Iraq War vets who rely on
marijuana, can it afford not to?

For love and money: Amy Rubin, Denver's own love doctor is big on the
Internet, and this week, she'll get even bigger when a billboard
featuring her online radio show, Amy's Heart, goes up just off of Colfax
Avenue and Park Avenue West.

Dr. Rubin – who also runs www.FindingYourHear tsDesire. com, a
combination inspirational advice/astrology/ shopping website — isn't
actually an M.D. No, she's just a single girl who spends her time trying
to convince other single girls not to be so pathetic about their hunt
for a man. Her message: Love yourself and others will follow. Last
month, the blond bombshell did just that, appearing naked on the cover
of Soul's Journey Magazine (put out by the folks behind the radio

"The image is love goddess-y," Rubin said recently, admitting that she
was initially worried about lying in a bed of roses in the nude but
figured, "There's no reason in the world you can't be extraordinary on
the outside and the inside."

Scene and herd: The White House could get a little taste of Denver if
President Barack Obama is able to pull off a meeting over beers with
Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates and Cambridge, Massachusetts, police
sergeant James Crowley, who arrested Gates on July 16 for trying to
break into his own home.

While Obama will have a Bud, Crowley has requested a Blue Moon, the
now-ubiquitous Coors product created inside Coors Field at the Blue Moon
Brewery at the Sandlot.

Sandlot brewer Tom Hail hadn't heard about the powwow or the beer
choice, but he thinks it's cool. As for the reason Blue Moon may make it
to the presidential palace, he laughs, "Don't give me any credit for

http://www.westword .com/2009- 07-30/news/ the-state- will-need- a-pot-of- mon\
ey-to-maintain- the-medical- marijuana- registry

Ventura County Marijuana News

Learning to lighten up on medical marijuana

By Michael Sullivan 07/30/2009

I met Lori about five years ago. She was engaged to her boyfriend,
living a quiet simple life in Ventura. Around the time she was about to
get married, she became violently ill, beginning with unexplainable
nausea, then throwing up repeatedly, unable to hold down food and losing
weight rapidly. She had a good job, but her illness, which doctors to
this day have been unable to successfully treat, got in the way of her
working — at least full time.

Then one day, a friend recommended that she recreationally smoke a
joint. Hesitant at first to break the law and smoke pot that came from
an unknown source, her desperate situation led her to justify trying it.
It wasn't a shining moment for her, but once the herb delivered the
desired results — calming down the vomiting and nausea and giving
her an appetite — she decided to get a prescription for medical

She now has a medical marijuana card, and whenever she recognizes
symptoms of her illness, she smokes and even eats marijuana for a milder
buzz — a buzz which, according to her, provides longer-lasting
effects. She is frustrated with the fact she has to drive to Santa
Barbara or even Los Angeles to get her prescription filled. She thinks
as long as the cities work in conjunction with the state laws, medical
marijuana should be available in Ventura County.

Her biggest gripe, though, is not that it isn't found here, but that
people who have never needed or had the desire to consume marijuana make
judgments about the people who do, and that anything related to it is
bad. She also feels that people seem to overlook the incidence of crime
related to alcohol, a legal drug, and make pot out to be some notorious
narcotic. Upon speaking with enforcement officials, they relayed that it
is rare for them to find someone who has gotten into an accident or
committed vehicular manslaughter because the driver was stoned. The
biggest problem with marijuana is that it is illegal and people are
willing to go to great lengths to buy or sell it.

On Monday night, Ventura's City Council unanimously approved a
one-year moratorium on opening any marijuana business within city limits
in order to craft language for not-for-profit marijuana collectives that
would adhere to federal and state laws. The council agreed that
dispensaries were not an option — collectives are lower key,
typically run by patients, whereas dispensaries work more like
pharmacies or retail stores.

The reality is that many people need it for severe ailments and
debilitating diseases but too many people are getting it for minor aches
and pains, making "medical marijuana" a joke. So there is only
one practical long-term solution: legalize it for everyone. Pot should
be just as accessible to adults as pharmaceuticals or alcohol.

The government should stop spending millions of dollars on clogging the
courts and sending people to jail for marijuana offenses. Instead, the
substance should be legalized, controlled and generating as much tax
revenue as possible just as is done with alcohol or even cigarettes.
Even if people could grow it in their backyards, professionally grown
weed would still be in demand.

This isn't a new thought, and now the federal government seems to be
the closest it has ever been to legalizing marijuana but is not there
just yet. In the meantime, consideration should be given to those like
Lori, who use it just to get through the day. For the sake of those who
need it and despite those who abuse the privilege, I hope Ventura will
take the lead with a progressive stance on the issue and become the
first city in Ventura County to open a legal pot collective.

http://www.vcreport story/detail/ learning_ to_lighten_ up_on_med\
ical_marijuana/ 7134/

Marijuana a Viable Revenue Source in California?

Tests for California's 'pot economy'

Medical marijuana booms in cities such as L.A., with some eyeing its
revenue potential. But there's pushback, too.

By Daniel B. Wood
Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

from the July 26, 2009 edition

LOS ANGELES - Sitting on a sofa in the gymnasium-sized Quonset hut of
the New Liberty Bell Temple, Daniel Reynolds puts his lips to a plastic
cone and breathes in marijuana vapor.

The vapor contains the active substance in cannabis that Mr. Reynolds, a
cancer patient, says "eases his pain."

The vast room also hosts a pool table, ping-pong table, video-game
monitor, and a stage for live music. In the back, a cubicle displays
Mason jars filled with green, leafy clumps. Customers pay between $25
and $55 per one-eighth of an ounce for different strains of marijuana,
marked "Humboldt Gold," "Black Africa," "Banana OG," and "NY Diesel."

Los Angeles's pot economy is booming. The number of medical-marijuana
dispensaries here has skyrocketed from 183 in 2007 to about 800 now. In
this period, pot shops have morphed from what Reynolds calls "hidden,
remote places with no signs or addresses" into listed and public
outlets. Many sport 10-foot signboards in the shape of a marijuana leaf.

But as dispensaries have sprouted across this and other California
cities, they face pushback from local residents unhappy with their new
neighbors and officials concerned about inadequate oversight of a novel
business. Sacramento and Santa Cruz are considering moratoriums on new
dispensaries as they review regulation. In L.A., complaints about
robberies and drug abuse at the clinics prompted the city council to
shut down several hundred dispensaries over the past few months.

Many of them had opened in spite of a moratorium on new dispensaries
because of a legal loophole that allowed them to operate pending an
application for exemption. On June 16, the city council enacted a
measure to eliminate this exemption.

"This is about the health and safety of those who need marijuana
dispensaries to treat conditions including HIV, glaucoma, and cancer,"
said Councilman Ed Reyes, who sponsored the measure. "This is also about
the health and safety of our communities to protect them from nuisance

Medical marijuana was legalized in California with a 1996 state ballot
initiative that made marijuana available by prescription to relieve pain
or nausea.

Federal law prohibits the use and sale of marijuana even for medical
purposes, and that seems unlikely to change soon. Nationwide, about
775,000 people were arrested for marijuana possession in 2007. However,
the Obama administration ended raids in states that have legalized
medical marijuana – one reason for the recent growth in dispensaries
in California.

In 2007, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) expressed concern
about the rising number of medical pot sellers and called for a
moratorium pending new regulation. The absence of specific zoning rules,
officials pointed out, had resulted in a dozen dispensaries opening
within 1,000 feet of schools. One dispensary had slipped fliers on the
windshields of cars parked outside a high school, the LAPD said.

The dispensaries are "targets for people who want to come in and rob,"
says Lt. Paul Torrence of the LAPD's Gang and Narcotics Division,
"because they know there is lots of cash around and security is limited
because they like to keep a low profile."

On their part, dispensaries including the Rastafarian New Liberty Bell
Temple counter that they are unnecessarily harassed on trumped-up

Some neighbors have also questioned whether some of the young and
apparently healthy people they see walking into the dispensaries or
lighting up outside them are really ill. Lieutenant Torrence echoes this
concern. "[T]his is a way for people to grow medical marijuana and make
serious money," he says.

Still, polls show American public attitudes toward marijuana have
changed over time. In 1979, just 27 percent of Americans favored
legalization of marijuana, according to a a CBS/New York Times poll. In
a July 13, 2009, CBS poll, that figure had gone up to 41 percent.

"Five years ago, my mom would have been openly hostile to my smoking
marijuana," says Reynolds, the customer at New Liberty Bell Temple and a
registered process server. But at a recent lunch, she asked him if he
had considered getting a marijuana prescription to help with his cancer.

Despite "the huge public support, politicians are worried about their
political liability amongst both colleagues and voters," says Paul
Armentano, deputy director of the National Organization to Reform
Marijuana Laws. He notes that 13 states have medical marijuana laws
exempting patients from arrest and criminal prosecution, but only three
– Hawaii, Rhode Island, and Vermont – enacted the laws through
the legislature.

More states will legalize medical marijuana, say many observers. Nudging
the issue forward are budget-crunched states such as California, which
could take in as much as $1.2 billion annually from taxing marijuana
sales. An April Field Poll showed that 56 percent of California
residents favor taxing and regulating marijuana.

Oakland became the first city in the nation to tax marijuana last week
when voters voted "yes" to such a tax.

"[T]he culture is changing, and it's not considered the evil weed once
portrayed in movies like 'Reefer Madness,' " says Robert Pugsley, a
specialist in marijuana legislation at Southwestern School of Law in
L.A. "The state will want to tax it and regulate it as a product like
cigarettes and get revenue out of it. Maybe even cities would add their
own surcharges," he adds.

http://www.csmonito 0728/p02s13- usgn.html

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Ventura County Marijuana Dispensaries

Ventura to consider nonprofit medical pot outlets

By Kevin Clerici

Originally published 06:34 a.m., July 28, 2009
Updated 06:34 a.m., July 28, 2009

Ventura on Monday became first city in Ventura County willing to take a
serious look at allowing medical marijuana collectives to operate
legally in the city.

After lengthy discussion and impassioned public input, the City Council
unanimously approved a motion by Councilman Ed Summers that called for a
yearlong moratorium on medical pot operations to buy time to craft
language for not-for-profit pot collectives, which typically are
operated by medical pot patients and focused on patient care.

Pot dispensaries, which typically are run more like for-profit retail
stores, are illegal under state and federal law and should not be
considered, Summers said.

"I really believe there are valid medical uses," said Summers,
who favored a yearlong ban for further study and refinement despite
public opposition. Los Angeles, he explained, has been overwhelmed with
dispensaries who took advantage of loopholes because the city
"didn't do it right" when it drafted its rules.
Ventura's temporary ban, he countered, would "start the clock
ticking while the city develops the right rules."

No city in Ventura County currently allows medical pot businesses. Some,
including Moorpark, Oxnard and Thousand Oaks, have adopted temporary
moratoriums with no expressed desire to find a way to allow them in.
Camarillo just extended its ban. Simi Valley enacted a permanent one.

Dozens of medicinal marijuana patients and supporters filled the City
Hall Chamber.

Though limited to speak for no more than two minutes, patients shared
personal stories of how medical pot has helped them cope with agonizing
pain and lead productive lives. They complained how they have to drive
to Santa Barbara, Malibu or the San Fernando Valley to buy their

Backers, stressing the medical benefits and how legal outlets could
provide a potential financial windfall for the city, urged the council
to show compassion and create a regulated, taxed program for
not-for-profit marijuana collectives under Proposition 215, the
Compassionate Use Act of 1996. The act permits patients with a variety
of illnesses to legally use medicinal marijuana in California. Attorneys
who specialize in medical marijuana even volunteered to help.

"It can be done, it should be done, it needs to be done," said
Duke Smith, a longtime patient and former outlet operator and founder of
Citizens for Safe Access, an advocacy group.

Though Mayor Christy Weir and Councilman Jim Monahan told a large
audience they preferred a permanent ban on any form of pot outlet, both
ultimately supported the moratorium and potential legalization process.
Councilmen Brian Brennan, Carl Morehouse and Neal Andrews voiced support
for carefully crafting new regulations. It was time the city "treat
the issue with the dignity and respect it deserves," said Brennan,
whose sister is a doctor and has recommended pot to patients.

Recent polling shows more than half of Californians support legalizing
pot and taxing it and the federal authorities pledged in March to no
longer take action against medical marijuana dispensaries if they
complied with state and local laws.

City Manager Rick Cole expressed concerns about how the city would
enforce any new rules and warned outlets could cause complaints from
neighbors and increased crime. Ventura Police Chief Pat Miller told the
council he didn't have the resources to regulate or monitor a new
program. The California Police Chiefs Association have complained that
marijuana clubs across the state are little more than fronts for drug
dealers. An official from the Ventura County District Attorney's
Office urged the city to develop rules to block dispensaries, which he
said were illegal.

Proponents agreed, saying they didn't want dispensaries, either.
Instead, they pointed to the four Oakland collectives that are operating
legally and with city permits, and a new tax supported overwhelmingly
last week by Oakland voters to help the cash-strapped city. They also
argued the city could charge higher licensing fees to pay for increased
city and police oversight and require on-site security.

The Oakland marijuana businesses, which generate an estimated $20
million annually in sales, will be taxed $18 per $1,000 in gross
receipts, a 15-fold increase over the current charge. They are projected
to raise nearly $400,000 annually in additional tax revenues.

Afterward, some patients said they were so used to rejection that they
were unsure whether or not to believe the council was serious about
creating a legal path, particularly after the mayor's staunch
opposition. Others were encouraged, giving each other high fives and
hugs and one guy saying it was time to get high.

Councilman Neal Andrews, who worked in the healthcare industry for 35
years, said state law encourages local governments to help make
distribution of medical marijuana safe and affordable for seriously ill

"It's time we take that direction, embrace it and find the right
solution for our community," he said.

http://www.venturac ountystar. com/news/ 2009/jul/ 28/ventura- to-consider- no\
nprofit-medical- pot/

Monday, July 27, 2009

Westlake Venctura Conuty Marijuana Dispensary Showdown

Showdown looms in Westlake marijuana dispensary dispute

By From staff reports
Saturday, July 25, 2009

A court hearing could take place as soon as Monday in a legal challenge
filed against the city of Westlake Village by a marijuana distribution
facility, officials said Friday.

A Los Angeles County Superior Court hearing on the matter was postponed
Friday because of scheduling issues.

Amazing Healing Supply, which opened May 30 in a business park,
suspended its operations this month after the city ordered it to close,
saying it had violated a zoning ordinance.

The business contends the city is wrong, and is asking a judge to issue
a temporary restraining order to block the city from interfering with
its operations. It says it is a medical marijuana collective as defined
by Proposition 215, the ballot measure approved by California voters in

"This is not about whether medical marijuana should be available to
people who need it for illness or disease," said William Litvak, an
attorney representing the city. "This is simply about whether or not
the operator has complied with local laws like everyone else. We do not
believe a temporary restraining order would legalize a use that is not
in compliance with the municipal code."

A lawyer for the business did not respond to a request for comment.

http://www.venturac ountystar. com/news/ 2009/jul/ 25/showdown- looms-in- west\
lake-marijuana- dispensary/

Healthcare Reimbursement for Marijuana Costs?

Marijuana Reimbursement Claims Highlight How Pot Could Be Gold for

A medical billing company may be blowing smoke, but could reimbursing
patients for medical marijuana lower drug costs for employers?

By Jeremy Smerd
Workforce Management Online, July 2009

In mid-June, Rhode Island became the third state to legalize the
sale of marijuana for medical use, giving momentum to advocates who
believe the legalization of the drug offers a dose of sanity for the
nation's costly health care system.

Now that more states are legalizing the sale of the marijuana used
solely as a medicine, the next hurdle for reformers who say the drug is
more cost-effective than pharmaceuticals is getting those who pay for
health care—insurers and employers—to reimburse patients for its

"It's going to take an employer that says, `We're
not interested in marijuana as a gateway drug or any of that reefer
madness. We want to talk about dollars and cents,' " says Allen
St. Pierre, executive director of NORML (the National Organization for
the Reform of Marijuana Laws). "If the idea here is saving money,
then there's no question that medical marijuana should be part of
the ambit of choices that doctors, patients and employers can have."

The effort to legalize the sale of medical marijuana has focused
mainly on whether the medical effectiveness of the drug justifies making
it legal to obtain in plant form. The medical benefits have been most
closely tied to treating weight loss, nausea, pain, inflammation,
spasticity and other symptoms associated with cancer, AIDS, cerebral
palsy, muscular dystrophy and arthritis.

Advocates for its legalization say its medical benefits should be
made available to ease the suffering of patients. In a nod to the
plant's medicinal powers, pharmaceutical companies have produced
synthetic forms of some of its active chemicals.

Less attention, though, has been focused on whether paying for
patients' medical marijuana is a cost-effective way to manage
certain illnesses. Advocates argue that marijuana is an effective
medicine that can also be a cost-effective alternative to

Reimbursing patients who use it could push them away from otherwise
costly drugs that some advocates say are not as effective. Employers, as
payers of health care, should champion the legalization of medical
marijuana as a potential cost-saving tool, advocates say.

Despite the recent legislative victories, however, even employers
that want to reimburse patients who use medical marijuana cannot.

Stephen DeAngelo, chief executive of Harborside Health Center, a
medical marijuana dispensary in Oakland, California, has tried to
provide a medical marijuana benefit through the health plan he provides
to his 67 full-time employees.

"Blue Cross Blue Shield will not reimburse for medical
marijuana; we checked," he says. "It's illegal under federal
law and they can't do anything that will break federal law."

Instead, he provides his employees, all of whom are medical
marijuana patients, with a free gram of marijuana for every shift they
work, a policy he says has lowered his company's health insurance

"Many of these patients had drug bills of several hundred
dollars a week before they began using medical marijuana," he says.
"Now they are about $40 or $50 a week."

A week before Rhode Island legalized the sale of medical marijuana,
a medical billing company in Los Angeles said it had successfully
enabled medical marijuana patients to get reimbursed by major health
insurance companies.

GE Medical Billing, which is not affiliated with General Electric
Corp., says it contracts with California marijuana dispensaries, where
patients with "recommendations" from doctors are allowed, under
state law, to purchase the cannabis plant in forms smokeable, edible and
generally ingestible, then helps the dispensaries' patients get
reimbursed from insurance companies for the money they spend on

Patients can pay dispensaries around $60 for marijuana with names
like Purple Flo and Hindu Kush, or—for patients not wanting to
inhale—Bomb Brownies that are the specialty of one Los Angeles
dispensary called Bakedery.

Dispensaries that contract with GE Medical Billing send expense
claims of customers to insurers via the billing company. The
company's medical director, a licensed obstetrician and gynecologist
named Gil Mintz, says he has helped patients get reimbursed by such
insurers as Aetna, Cigna, UnitedHealth, and that at least one union, the
Field Ironworkers Union in Arizona, Nevada and California, uses its

But health insurers dispute this. They say they cannot and do not
reimburse patients for drugs, including medical marijuana, that are not
approved by the Food and Drug Administration. A spokesman for Cigna
cited this fact when explaining that the Philadelphia health insurer has
no business relationship with GE Medical Billing.

"We don't provide reimbursement for the medical use of
marijuana," said spokesman Mark Slitt. "We don't have a
business relationship with GE Medical Billing nor did we give them
permission to use our logo on their Web site."

An Aetna spokeswoman also said the insurer does not cover medical
marijuana either as a pharmacy or medical benefit.

Neither UnitedHealth nor the ironworkers union responded to several
requests for comment. Cigna says it does reimburse patients for the use
of a generic version of a drug, Marinol, which is a synthetic version of
one of the marijuana plant's active chemicals, tetrahydrocannabino l,
more commonly known as THC.

Indeed, it appears that GE Medical Billing uses an insurance code
for what appears to be a synthetic marijuana substitute called
"cannarettes, " says Harborside's DeAngelo, who asked his
insurance broker to investigate GE Medical Billing's assertions.

DeAngelo and other marijuana reform advocates say that until a
federal agency says there is a use for medical cannabis, no insurance
company will reimburse patients who use it.

While it is unlikely to happen anytime soon, the stance of both
state and federal governments appears to be softening. Thirteen states
have legalized the use of medical marijuana, and the Obama
administration, in a reversal of Bush administration policy, has said it
will not prosecute citizens who comply with states marijuana laws.

On June 18, Reps. Barney Frank, D-Massachusetts, and Ron Paul,
R-Texas, introduced legislation that would eliminate federal penalties
for the personal possession of cannabis and the not-for-profit transfer
of up to one ounce of pot.

The next step, advocates say, is to study whether medical marijuana
does indeed reduce health care costs.

No formal, peer-reviewed study of the cost-effectiveness of medical
marijuana has been conducted, says Jeffrey Miron, an economist at
Harvard University who has written about the cost of the federal
prohibition against marijuana. And while $1.1 billion has been budgeted
to compare the effectiveness of different treatments for the same
condition, there is no plan to research the effectiveness of medical
marijuana, says a spokeswoman for the Agency for Healthcare Research and

One informal study on the cost-effectiveness of using marijuana for
medical purposes was conducted in 2006 and published in
O'Shaughnessy' s, a non-academic journal that examines how
cannabis is used in doctors' practices. In it, many doctors said the
use of marijuana led their patients to cut back on more expensive
pharmaceutical drugs to treat the same symptom.

Until then, politicians and voters should not be the ones to decide
which drugs are safe for patients, says one opponent of medical
marijuana, Robert L. DuPont, a former drug czar under Presidents Nixon
and Ford and currently the president of the Institute for Behavior and
Health, a drug policy group in Washington.

"The idea of approving drugs through ballot initiative and
legislative action is a scary precedent for any medicine," he says,
though he agrees that buying whole-leaf marijuana is probably cheaper
than buying pharmaceuticals.

While studies have shown marijuana to have medical benefits, it
also has potential hazards, not least of which comes from smoking. An
article in May in the journal Chemical Research in Toxicology said
carcinogens in marijuana made smoking three joints equal to 20 or more
tobacco cigarettes.

"I don't know when the last time you went to a doctor and
he said go out and get some weeds and burn them and that's a
medicine," DuPont says. "Because smoke is toxic."

Advocates, who are hoping that the FDA will recognize the
plant's benefits and allow patients to get reimbursed for ingesting
the drug, say the push will have to come from the people who pay for
health care—not just patients, but health insurers and employers

"Health care costs would go down, I assure you," says
Lester Grinspoon, associate professor emeritus of psychiatry at Harvard
Medical School and author of Marijuana: The Forbidden Medicine.

"The argument it should be legal is not just a medical point of
view, but also from a point of view that … it will be less expensive
than modern pharmaceuticals are. Those are two powerful arguments for
making it legal."

Jeremy Smerd is a Workforce Management staff writer based in New York.
E-mail editors@workforce. com to comment.

http://www.workforc 02/feature/ 26/54/51/

Colorado Republican Moms for Marijuana Legalization

Republican moms for marijuana: 'Time to legalize is now'

It will take conservatives and women to help turn tide against pot

By By Jessica Peck Corry, For the Colorado Daily

Sunday, July 26, 2009

BOULDER, Colo. — As a Republican mother committed to legalizing
marijuana, political life can be lonely. But while many in my party
whisper about the Drug War's insanity, we should shout it from the
rooftop: the time to legalize is now.

Calling for a new approach doesn't make me a pothead. In fact, while I
freely admit to having previously smoked marijuana -- as do more than 95
million other Americans, including our last three presidents -- I choose
not to be an active marijuana user today.

While opponents may argue that legalization is all about a bunch of
twentysomethings wanting to get high, the debate deserves a more
respectful and truthful analysis.

Take medical marijuana. On July 20, Colorado's Health Board voted down a
proposal that would have effectively shuttered the medical marijuana
dispensaries serving as crucial sources of legal marijuana across the
state. As a result, courageous patients, including AIDS survivor Damien
LaGoy, will not have to take to dangerous streets to obtain marijuana.

Instead, the state's nearly 10,000 patients can continue their existing
relationships with dispensaries, many of who deliver to the homebound
and hold extensive knowledge about the benefits and side effects of
specific strains.

To LaGoy, who weighs just 100 pounds, marijuana is the only medicine
proven to effectively combat the nausea he faces from his pharmaceutical

Even outside of medical uses, support for outright legalization is
skyrocketing. An April ABC News-Washington Post poll concluded that
national support stands at 46 percent.

Already, there is talk that Colorado may see a legalization bill in
2010. In 2006, voters were asked to legalize small amounts for adult
consumption. Forty-four percent said yes -- more than the number
supporting the GOP's gubernatorial candidate. With one more vote in
every 10, Colorado could become the first state to lift prohibition

If history is any guide, the crucial female voting bloc, including many
Republicans, will provide the political will essential to making this

In 1929, it was the Women's Organization for National Prohibition Reform
successfully leading the charge to end America's decade-long experiment
with alcohol prohibition. While many of these same activists fought just
years earlier to forbid booze, they quickly witnessed prohibition' s
devastating consequences, including increased violence.

Just four years into the Women's Organization for National Prohibition
Reform's repeal efforts, prohibition was over.

Prohibition is a bipartisan creation, lending power to drug cartels and
bad public policy. One example: Students convicted of any drug offense
can be stripped of all federal financial aid, forcing many out of school
and into low-income communities where harsher drugs, including
methamphetamine, run rampant.

Courageous conservatives across the country, including Texas Congressman
Ron Paul, former Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo and former New Mexico
Gov. Tim Johnson, have all said yes to legalization.

If we believe that smaller government is better government, we must
trust people to choose what to put into their bodies. If we support
legalized access to alcohol, cigarettes, and 700-calorie cheeseburgers,
we should legalize marijuana -- a far less harmful substance.

So what will I tell my kids when they are old enough to contemplate
marijuana use? I'll tell them I hope they make good decisions with their
bodies, which are sacred and should be respected. If all goes as
planned, I'll also be able to take them down memory lane, sharing what
it was like to have lived under prohibition.

How I dream of the sweet day that government finally relinquishing its
control, allowing my husband and me to finally parent our children.

Jessica Peck Corry is a policy analyst with the Independence Institute
in Golden and a co-founder of Guarding Our Children Against Marijuana

http://www.colorado news/2009/ jul/26/legalize- marijuana- pot-col\
orado-republican- moms/

Oregon to Legalize Industrial Hemp Production?

Governor expected to sign bill legalizing hemp production

Bill could be rendered ineffective until federal ban is lifted;
Prozanski founded movement in Ore.

by Alex Zielinski | News Reporter

Oregon could shortly become the seventh state to permit industrial hemp
production, possession and commercialization if the governor follows
through on plans to sign Senate Bill 676 that passed in the Senate and
House in June.

While Oregon would be the first state to allow hemp production on the
West Coast, it will not be able to begin growing the plant, along with
all other states that have passed the bill, until the federal government
lifts its ban on national hemp production.

The main issue involved in legalizing hemp growth is its biological
similarity and cultural association with marijuana. While both are
members of the Cannabis family, marijuana contains up to about 20
percent THC, the main chemical in the plant that leads to psychoactive
effects, while hemp only contains around .03 percent.

"People see hemp as a form of drug, when in reality, it would simply
lead to a headache if used in that way," Sen. Floyd Prozanski said.
Prozanski founded the movement to legalize hemp in Oregon 12 years ago
by introducing a bill in the legislature.

Hemp fiber and seed can be used as a principal substance for thousands
of products, including health food, textiles, building materials, paper
and plastics. "This plant is an incredible textile, and overall
commodity," Gov. Ted Kulongoski said Tuesday. "Passing this bill is a
positive step forward for the state."

Currently, all of the hemp-made products in the U.S. must import the
seed and fiber from countries such as Canada, Germany and China, leading
to a pricey trade for the national businesses. Prozanski is critical of
the government's prohibiting hemp production in the U.S. for so long.

"Compared to so many other industrially grown plants, hemp is a
sustainable product," he said. "It would provide a complete full circle
of benefit in the community that it is farmed and could lessen the
carbon impact." Prozanski sees industrial hemp playing a large role as
an agricultural commodity as soon as 2011, because he believes President
Barack Obama, compared to George W. Bush, will be more flexible in this

If the bill becomes law, there will be strict regulations on the growing
process. Farmers will only be allowed to use 2.5 acres of land for
growing, equipped with a GPS identification for each licensed farmer's
field. The state Department of Agriculture will be responsible for
unlimited inspection of the growing plots, in which it will measure the
amounts of THC in each plant, the area of the land farmers use, and the
way in which the farmer is selling his or her share.

"Our role in this issue is limited to developing an inspection and
certification program for industrial hemp if and when the federal
prohibition is lifted," Oregon DOA spokesperson Bruce Pokarney wrote. A
violation of any of the hemp-growing permit regulations leaves the
farmer with a $2,500 fine.

Pokarney says the DOA is still far from having enough funding to develop
a hemp regulation program. "We have not been given any funds to develop
a program yet and those types of considerations will be necessary before
proceeding," Pokarney wrote.

Until the mid-'70s, hemp was produced industrially throughout the
country - in fact, it was subsidized. Not until marijuana became
culturally known and outlawed was hemp looked down upon.

If the federal government passes the hemp legislation, it might lead to
a stronger state interest in legalizing marijuana. "This whole process
may be the beginning of a larger discussion regarding the plant,"
Kulongoski said.


http://media. www.dailyemerald .com/media/ storage/paper859 /news/2009/ 07/27\
/News/Governor. Expected. To.Sign.Bill. Legalizing. Hemp.Production- 3752970.\

Problems With War on Drugs

Drug war a problem on both sides of border

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Mexico's drug war is worsening. Its government is flooding trouble spots
with 45,000 troops - more than the United States has in Afghanistan -
but with little pause in killings that have left over 11,000 dead in
three years.

The turmoil - once a fight between violent drug gangs over smuggling
routes to the United States - may be shifting in a more dangerous
direction. The gangs are now opening up on the government itself,
attacking offices, killing investigators and threatening citizens who
speak out.

This month, Mexican President Felipe Calderon ordered more soldiers into
Ciudad Juarez, a major border town and drug entry point opposite El
Paso, to quell the violence. Closer to Mexico City, he faces trouble
from an upstart gang in his native state of Michoacan, where the bodies
of 12 federal agents were dumped on a back road, all of them tortured
and shot in the head. In response, he sent 5,500 troops to the region.

The war poses peculiar problems for the United States, both a worried
neighbor and a chief instigator. Washington can't send in military
helpers as it has in Colombia and other Latin countries because of
strong nationalist feelings in Mexico. So far the main lifeline is the
$1.4 billion Merida Initiative to supply military and other aid, though
that money is slow in coming. Also, efforts to curb U.S. gun sales to
drug gangs - a sore point for Mexican authorities - have done little.

Genuine help for Mexico - and other narco-hit nations - might better
come from an admission that drug appetites, not gangs, are the central
factor. All the helicopters, night-vision goggles and dog-sniffing car
searches can't stop the flood tide of marijuana, speed and cocaine
heading north. The government crackdown, welcomed by many Mexicans, is
now drawing criticism because of the army's rough handling of suspects
and innocent civilians.

In March, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton bluntly noted her
nation's responsibility. The killings, beheadings and bombings in Mexico
are due to "our insatiable demand for illegal drugs."

Her remarks should set the stage for a new anti-drug policy. It won't be
full legalization, a nonstarter in Washington. But it could lead to a
broader approach built on drug education, rehabilitation and other steps
to reduce demand.

It's a solution that's easy to ridicule and slow to produce results. It
will need help from anti-corruption efforts in Mexico and, because gangs
remain so strong, the crackdown must continue. But a costly, heavy-duty
interdiction policies alone won't do it.

Next month, President Obama is due at a North American summit in
Guadalajara, Mexico. He must include the drug war on his priority list.
The violence and human misery it is inflicting, on both sides of the
border, are unacceptable.

http://sfgate. com/cgi-bin/ article.cgi? f=/c/a/2009/ 07/26/EDJM18TTG6 .DTL

This article appeared on page A - 10 of the San Francisco Chronicle

Marijuana News in Solano Beach

Pot shops hot issue in Dixon

By Melissa Murphy/ MMurphy@TheReporter .com
Posted: 07/27/2009 09:03:35 AM PDT

Dixon's ordinance on medical marijuana is a little hazy, so the City
Council is considering a moratorium on dispensaries in the city to clear
up things.

City leaders recently were contacted by several people inquiring about
zoning districts and the process for opening a medical marijuana or
cannabis dispensary business.

Dixon already has a medical marijuana dispensary ordinance, which was
passed in 2004. With a use permit, the ordinance allows those types of
dispensaries in the city within the zoning for professional and
administrative offices.

Because of increased interest, according to a staff report, Dixon's city
manager, police chief and community development director met with Solano
County District Attorney Dave Paulson to discuss the city's ordinance
and how his office might handle any cases involving the dispensing of
marijuana in the city.

Paulson, according to the staff report, shared concern due to recent
guidelines issued by the state's attorney general, Dixon's ordinance was
not clear about the nature of a legal dispensary.

To give the city time to amend the ordinance, city staff is recommending
that the City Council approve a moratorium.

If the council passes the moratorium, it will give staff 45 days to
evaluate the ordinance. A moratorium also can be extended twice.

Prior to discuss the dispensary ordinance, the council will consider the
project for a proposed Flying J Travel Plaza to sit on 27 acres south of
the Interstate 80 and Pedrick Road intersection.

Last week, planning commissioners considered the environmental impact
report and development agreement. The development agreement received a
6-0 vote in favor of the document. Commissioner Yvonne McCluskey
abstained because of a possible conflict of interest.

The environmental impact report hit an obstacle with a 3-3 tie vote. The
hang-up was on whether or not Flying J should build an additional shade
structure to cover 30 truck parking spaces.

In other action, the council will consider adding to, or amending,
various sections of the zoning ordinance about signs.

The Dixon City Council meets at 7 p.m. in the City Council Chamber, 600
East A St.

http://www.therepor ci_12921523

State Debate on Marijuana Legalization

Time for state to debate pot legalization

By Dennis Wyatt
Managing Editor

Call it reefer madness.

Oakland voters on Tuesday created a business-tax category for the
selling of pot from store front operations.

The pot clubs that under California law are licensed to sell pot for
medicinal purposes were paying $1.20 per $1,000 of gross receipts. Since
passage of Measure F, that tax rate will jump to $18 per $1,000 of

Backers of legalizing marijuana applauded the move as it adds to the
effort to legalize pot.

There is one slight problem with all of this. If doctors are prescribing
marijuana for medical reasons, then how can it be taxed? Prescription
drugs are exempt from taxes. Marijuana is a drug and if a doctor is
writing out a note allowing a patient to legally buy it then it is a
prescription as well.

Studies have shown that pot can be effective in providing relief to
those with AIDS, cancer, and glaucoma among other afflictions. It is
true that there are doctors making pitches on the internet to pay them
so they can prescribe pot for things such as PMS, back pain, and more.
There is no research to support such assumptions. If marijuana were
regulated like other medicinal drugs by the federal government, then
there would be a standard.

Then again, who is fooling who? It is hard to believe Los Angeles has
enough seriously ill people to support the 500 plus medicinal
dispensaries of marijuana in that city. All of their customers are not

Whether one likes it or not, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
is right that the time has come for a serious debate. There is a need to
keep pot use in check and to start making it pay for government

It costs a ton of money to keep drinking in check. Manteca, as an
example, has a full-time officer funded for DUI enforcement by the state
as well as to run sobriety checkpoints thanks in part to revenues from
taxes on alcohol. Marijuana for the most part isn't bringing in cash
to pay for the cost of enforcement of consumption standards as alcohol

Not that it is justification to legalize it, but the State Board of
Equalization has estimated that San Francisco Assemblyman Tom
Ammiano's proposed legislation to legalize pot and slap it with a
$50 per once tax would generate $1.4 billion for the state in new taxes.

Of course, if someone is paying that money in taxes they don't have
funds for something else.

A debate on the subject would also have to include a component on what
to do with home-grown pot. Those advocating legalizing pot need to
remember there is a down-side. The revenue agents that went after
moonshiners back in the 1920s and 1930s weren't doing so because the
home brewed stuff could kill someone but because they were growing it
for profit and avoiding the payment of taxes.

Any debate on legalizing needs to include much tougher consequences for
growing at home for sale by adding real teeth with mandatory 10 year
prison sentences. One can't use the argument that legalizing pot is
a good way to raise taxes without expecting a heavy fist to come down on
those who try to skirt the law.

Rest assured if the federal government embraced legalizing pot
they'd view any grown at home for profit as contraband and would
deal with it much more severely than some hapless Joe arrested with a
ounce of marijuana on him.

The governor's call for a debate makes all the more sense given how
local jurisdictions are dealing with the implementation of medicinal
marijuana as allowed under Proposition 215. Oakland obviously has a much
tighter rein on things than Los Angeles.

It is disingenuous to simply use the need to generate more taxes as a
reason to legalize marijuana. A debate needs to go forward since it
seems wildly unfair that someone in Oakland with glaucoma is now subject
to a much higher tax to secure medicinal pot than someone in Los

Marijuana needs to be a controlled substance much like cigarettes and
alcohol and subject to state and federal taxes and regulations and not
the whims of local jurisdictions.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, e-mail dwyatt@mantecabulle

http://www.mantecab news/article/ 5684/

Marijuana News in New Jersey

Judge won't let Franklin Township man cite medical need for marijuana

Posted by pcox July 27, 2009 11:38AM

FRANKLIN TOWNSHIP -- A Somerset County man won't be able to use multiple
sclerosis as a defense for the 17 marijuana plants police found growing
behind his house, a Superior Court judge ruled today.

Possession of marijuana for personal use - or self-medication - is not a
defense for the charges lodged against Franklin Township resident John
Wilson, Judge Robert Reed said.

Wilson, 36, is accused of first-degree maintaining or operating a drug
production facility, second-degree manufacturing and third-degree drug
possession. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison.

A helicopter pilot spotted marijuana growing behind the house Wilson
rented on Skillmans Lane, and police found 17 marijuana plants, some as
tall as 6 feet, last August, authorities said. Wilson insists he was
growing it to help alleviate the pain and other symptoms he suffers.

Deputy Attorney General Russell Curley filed a motion asking Reed to bar
defense attorney James Wronko from asserting personal use as a defense
or referencing Wilson's medical condition at trial.

The argument comes as the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana
Act is pending. If it becomes a law, patients of debilitating diseases
would have structured access to the drug. But that's something for the
Legislature to decide, not the Judiciary, Reed said.

"The New Jersey Constitution has reserved to the Legislature the power
to legalize and legitimize medical marijuana use," Reed wrote. "Allowing
defendant to assert a medical marijuana defense where it is not relevant
to the elements of the crimes with which he is charged is, in effect,
judicially legitimizing the personal medical use of marijuana."

http://www.nj. com/news/ index.ssf/ 2009/07/judge_ wont_let_ franklin_ townsh.\

Marijuana News in Colorado

Marijuana petition in Breckenridge leads to likely spot on November

Petitioners smoke through signature quota

By Robert Allen and CODY OLIVAS
summit daily news
Breckenridge, Colorado,

Monday, July 27, 2009

BRECKENRIDGE — Breckenridge voters may decide in November whether to
decriminalize marijuana after a successful petition for the initiative
was certified Friday.

Reform group Sensible Breckenridge needed 500 signatures for the
petition, and nearly 700 were accepted out of about 1,400.

"Obviously it's very satisfying to have large numbers of
Breckenridge residents asking the town to change this law," said
Breckenridge attorney Sean McAllister, chairman of Sensible

Following the petition's certification, Breckenridge Town Council has an
opportunity to enact the law at its Aug. 11 meeting, or the decision
will go to the voters on a Nov. 3 ballot.

The initiative proposes decriminalization of less than one ounce of
marijuana for adults over 21.

If approved, the legislation would still contradict state and federal
laws — and enforcement would be at the discretion of Breckenridge
Police Department, according to a previous report.

Summit County Sheriff's Office would not be affected.

"The opportunity Breckenridge voters will have in the fall is to
tell their elected officials and state of Colorado they believe
marijuana is safer than alcohol and that it should be treated the same,"
McAllister said.

Town Councilman Jeffrey Bergeron said that regardless of how people feel
about the issue, "I'm encouraged that young people are so committed
to a political cause."

"The (Sensible Breckenridge) people really kind of displayed their
commitment and certainly their work ethic because they really hit the
streets and got the signatures," he said.

The reform group plans to campaign in the fall, possibly suggesting a
public forum on the issue and having volunteers go door-to-door.

In 2006, 72 percent of Breckenridge voters supported the unsuccessful
Amendment 44, which had language similar to the Breckenridge initiative
but applied to the entire state.

http://www.summitda 20090727/ NEWS/907269992/ 1055

Marijuana News In Ventura County

Marijuana advocates on council agenda

Dispensary in Ventura sought

By Kevin Clerici
Sunday, July 26, 2009

Michael Meyer has watched with unease over the years as city after city
in Ventura County has adopted moratoriums or other obstacles to block
medical marijuana dispensaries.

But the 61-year-old Ventura resident, who has used medicinal cannabis
for years to cope with rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia and other
ailments, has newfound hope.

Recent polling shows more than half of Californians support legalizing
pot and taxing it, the federal government has softened its stance, and
some lawmakers are pushing for legalization to help cash-strapped cities
and a state teetering on bankruptcy.

Three members of the Los Angeles City Council want to tax medical
marijuana to help close the city's budget gap. And last week,
Oakland voters overwhelmingly passed a measure to tax the city's
four medical marijuana dispensaries, which is expected to raise upwards
of $400,000 annually. Proponents say it showed voters were comfortable
with the way Oakland has limited and regulated dispensaries.

"The tide finally seems to be turning in favor of wider medical use
of marijuana," said Meyer, the Ventura County organizer for
Americans for Safe Access, a nationwide advocacy group.

Meyer and other advocates plan to press their case Monday night at
Ventura City Hall, where the Ventura City Council has agreed to discuss
the topic.

Ventura does not currently have a direct ban on dispensaries, although
its zoning law prohibits them.

The advocates want Ventura to be the first in Ventura County to create a
regulated, taxed program for "patient-oriented, " not-for-profit
marijuana collectives under Proposition 215, the Compassionate Use Act
of 1996. The act permits patients with a variety of illnesses to legally
use medicinal marijuana in California.

Meyer points to the four Oakland dispensaries that are operating legally
and with city permits, which he says are acting as good neighbors and
are willing to be taxed at a rate that could really help that
cash-strapped city.

The Oakland marijuana businesses, which generate an estimated $20
million annually in sales, will be taxed $18 per $1,000 in gross
receipts, a 15-fold increase over the current charge.

Meyer estimates there are 10,000 to 15,000 medical marijuana patients in
Ventura County, and they are spending tens of millions of dollars
annually outside the county. Those figures are based on statewide
patient estimates and gross receipts recorded by the state Board of
Equalization, he said.

No city in Ventura County currently allows pot dispensaries. Some,
including Moorpark, Oxnard and Thousand Oaks, have adopted temporary
moratoriums. Camarillo just extended its ban. Simi Valley enacted a
permanent one.

The growing dispensary industry poses a challenge Ventura must face,
even if the city decides to do nothing, City Manager Rick Cole said.

Ventura County could see more unauthorized dispensaries now that Los
Angeles sealed a legal loophole last month that had allowed hundreds of
them to operate there.

Local cities have seen an influx of people interested in opening
dispensaries since March. That is when U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder
announced federal authorities would no longer take action against
medical marijuana dispensaries if they complied with state and local

Cole has asked the Ventura City Council for direction and offered
choices: keep the status quo, develop rules for nonprofit collectives,
or enact a moratorium while further studying the issue.

State law encourages — but does not require — local governments
to help make distribution of medical marijuana safe and affordable for
seriously ill patients, said Ventura City Attorney Ariel Calonne. He
added that only nonprofit collectives and cooperatives that cater to
closed groups of qualified patients and their primary caregivers have
been found lawful by the courts.

While an increasing number of public officials, including Gov. Arnold
Schwarzenegger, have urged study of legalization, there remains deep
opposition among groups such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving. The
California Police Chiefs Association have complained that marijuana
clubs across the state are little more than fronts for drug dealers.

Meyer agrees there have been abuses. He denounced "rogue"
operations, citing a dispensary that recently opened in Westlake Village
after city officials said it didn't belong. The operation was shut
down by the Los Angeles County city, which since has enacted a
moratorium. The dispensary is seeking a court injunction to reopen.

Meyer contends Ventura can craft regulations to weed out bad apples and
ensure a new model of patient-focused care — "a place where a
75-year-old woman with terminal cancer who has never used marijuana
could receive instruction, counseling and support from other users."

"We have a unique opportunity to both serve the needs of Ventura
County's medical cannabis patients and create a significant tax
generator and revenue stream for the city."

The City Council meets at 6 p.m. Monday at City Hall, 501 Poli St.

http://www.venturac ountystar. com/news/ 2009/jul/ 26/marijuana- advocates- on\
-council-agenda- dispensary/

Marijuana News In San Diego

Some Cities Take their Time with Medical Marijuana

By Tom Fudge

Monday, July 27, 2009

Listen to Audio (:58) - http://www.kpbs. org/audioclips/ 7381/

SAN DIEGO — Politicians in South County want to know what they're
getting into before they approve medical marijuana dispensaries.

Chula Vista and National City have passed 45-day moratoriums that
prohibit the licensing of marijuana dispensaries. Chula Vista city
councilman Steve Castaneda says he believes the majority of his council
is willing to allow the dispensaries. But they want to make sure they
understand the state law and can be sure the businesses will follow the
law. Castaneda says the city's power to license and permit allows it to
regulate medical marijuana distribution.

"Now, the question is, if we want to allow these businesses to exist:
How do we want them to operate, and where do we want them to operate?"
he says.

Casteneda says the city may want to audit the dispensaries to make sure
they aren't engaging in illegal sales. State law allows non-profit
groups to collectively grow and distribute marijuana for medical use.

http://www.kpbs. org/news/ 2009/jul/ 27/some-cities- take-their- time-medical\

How Well Do You Know Marijuana Laws?

How well do you know your marijuana laws?

Fri, Jul 24, 2009 at 1:13 PM

Take this short quiz and find out:

http://action. site/MessageView er?em_id= 48341.0&dlv_ id=50601

For more information, please visit: www.MarijuanaConver and
www.ACLU-WA. org

Where Are We Now in the War on Drugs?

War on drugs failed, but what are options?

The Bakersfield Californian
Friday, Jul 24 2009 06:47 PM

By Mark Arnold

Let's deal with marijuana first. Many argue that marijuana use is
basically as benign as alcohol, which is technically defined as a drug,
so why not legalize it? Most people reject this comparison because we
rather enjoy our beverages. But by reducing the penalties for its use,
the Legislature has recognized that marijuana is less harmful than other
drugs and, additionally, that voters have legalized medical marijuana.

The more interesting debate is over legalizing all drugs. There is a
broader, free-spirit argument that favors legalization of not just
marijuana, but of all drugs. Why should the government protect people
from themselves? Should government be paternalistic? The only ones who
benefit from criminalization are drug dealers. Why not tax it and then
regulate it to some extent?

Making it illegal certainly hasn't stopped drug abuse. The 35-year "war
on drugs" could soon eclipse the record of some famous European battles.
Dealers are the sole victors.

One hundred years ago in the Wild West, if someone abused drugs or
alcohol, they did so at their own peril. If the town drunk wanted to
drink himself to death, that was his choice. However, when he did so, he
had to deal with the consequences; there was no government "help" to
enable him down his destructive path.

Today, we have those who abuse drugs on a daily basis yet shun
employment -- have their cake and eat it too. This needs to stop. If
every kid growing up understood that using drugs was like jumping off a
cliff -- that drugs lead directly to a miserable life and an early grave
-- they would avoid drugs just as they do playing on the freeway.
Policymaking "safety nets" must not encourage drug users.

There is a link between working and eating. There are consequences for
your behavior and there is no need for governmental oversight.

On the other hand, we have the possibility (or inevitability, as may be
argued) that legalization will exacerbate the use of drugs in an already
plagued society. Our children and grandchildren would be tempted to
experiment, or worse, become addicts -- an unacceptable scenario.
Legalization will increase current usage and thus create an even greater
societal problem. To further complicate matters, there is an argument
that the disease of addiction involves more than an appreciation of

There are credible and interesting arguments on all sides. Milton
Friedman, the conservative economist, has supported legalization for
years. Law enforcement generally opposes legalization, but then again
they are conflicted because they have received billions and billions of
dollars over the years trying to enforce the laws. Still, no one can
prove law enforcement wrong regarding the potential dangers of

In my view, the question comes down to three choices:

* Do we risk putting our communities in further peril by decriminalizing

* Do we risk continuing current drug laws that really haven't slowed the
use of drugs?

* Do we invest in research to determine "why people use drugs in the
first place" and in "prevention" measures?

This should be the public discourse.

Kern County Public Defender Mark Arnold has, for the past 14 years,
served as chief representation for defendants who cannot afford their
own defense. He recently announced he will retire in August.

http://www.bakersfi forum/x944962161 /War-on-drugs- failed-\
but-what-are- options

Iowa Court Sentences Man to 1 Year Of NO MJ LEGALIZATION ADOVCACY!

Judge defends marijuana sentence

Jack Delaney imposed a gag order on political activist Bob Newland

By Kevin Woster, Journal staff
Sunday, July 26, 2009

Circuit Court Judge Jack Delaney had given plenty of thought to his
sentencing options by the time he arrived in court July 6.

It was a fairly typical charge but a not-so-typical defendant: Bob

The well-known public advocate for the legalization of marijuana for
medical purposes had previously pleaded guilty to felony possession of
the drug. And Delaney wanted to make the sentence sting without imposing
an unduly harsh prison term on a 60-year-old man with a relatively clean
criminal record.

So in essence, he told him to shut up for a year about one thing:
medical marijuana, and an ongoing campaign to bring the issue to another
public vote in 2010.

Delaney sentenced Newland to one year in Pennington County Jail but
suspended all but 45 days under a set of stipulations that included
weekly drug tests, random searches and a one-year ban on public advocacy
for medical marijuana.

Delaney rejects assertions by some that he was imposing his personal
beliefs on medical marijuana through the sentence.

"I have no concern whatsoever about whether medical marijuana is
legalized," Delaney said during an interview with the Journal in his
office. "The important thing was to have a sentence crafted to
impose a penalty on Mr. Newland that was significant to him."

The advocacy ban was an infringement on Newland's First Amendment
rights. Delaney doesn't deny that. But neither does he consider it
more onerous or any less appropriate than many other infringements
imposed as part of felony sentences.

The random searches Newland faces in the next year would be violations
of his constitutional rights, but for the felony plea. Felons can face
otherwise unconstitutional firearms restrictions and the right to
associate with certain people or go to certain establishments, Delaney

"We restrict speech as well in a lot of protection orders, or in
divorces, where in some cases the parties' freedom to speak to one
another may be limited," he said.

And given the fact that the maximum penalty for Class 6 felony marijuana
possession was two years in prison and a $4,000 fine, Newland's
sentence could be considered light by others who face similar charges,
Delaney said. He was particularly concerned about younger minority
defendants who might get a longer jail term for the same crime.

"I'm sitting there faced with a gentleman who is older, well
known, who is thought by many to be considerably more well off than he
is, and he is seeking a sentence that is going to be considerably more
lenient that what they (minority defendants) might receive," Delaney
said. "So my thought was that I have to take something from him that
is as valuable or maybe even more valuable than his freedom."

Delaney settled on what he calls the "partial infringement of
speech," as well as limits on his freedom of association in support
of medical marijuana. Newland may still meet in private with medical
marijuana advocates to plan the medical-marijuana campaign. But he
cannot appear publicly in or speak on or for the campaign.

"I'm taking away a legal right of the person to associate,"
Delaney said. "I'm taking away his liberties. But not nearly as
much as if he were in jail."

Typical sentences for the same felony possession charge range from 45
days to 120 days in jail, Delaney said. But many of those who receive
such sentences have more criminal marks on their record, he said.

Delaney has received about 40 e-mails commenting on the verdict, with
many critical of the ban on speech and public involvement in the medical
marijuana campaign. Many of the e-mails came from people active in the
medical marijuana movement, he said, and some engaged in "name

Others, however, were more understanding when Delaney explained his

"All felonies are serious crimes, and they have a wide range of
impacts on anybody who's a felon," he said. "This is
unusual. And if it hadn't been Bob Newland, it wouldn't have had
the same impact."

Contact Kevin Woster at 394-8413 or kevin.woster@ rapidcityjournal .com

Poll on Cannabis Legalization in CA

This poll is for Monday July 27, 2009

QUESTION OF THE DAY: Legalize marijuana

KABC-TV Los Angeles Sun, 26 Jul 2009 23:56 PM PDT

Do you think California should legalize marijuana?

http://abclocal. feature?section= news/videos_ photos&id= 693422\
8&rss=rss-kabc- snippet-6336365

Legalization on the Way in Iowa!

Legalizing medical marijuana is worth considering in Iowa

Globe Gazette editorial
Monday, July 27, 2009 12:06 AM CDT

The Iowa Board of Pharmacy has given the green light to a series of
public hearings about the use of medical marijuana.

Four such hearings, including one in Mason City, will be held from
August through November. Dates have not been announced.

This follows a growing trend around the United States as lawmakers and
government officials re-examine laws governing marijuana use. The drug
once thought used only by dropouts is gaining new respectability.

Legalized marijuana, at least for medical purposes, is not as taboo as
one might think. Marijuana use for medical purposes is legal in 13
states. That's 13 state legislatures that have decided that
there's enough scientific evidence to back up the claim that
marijuana has beneficial uses.

And what are those uses? Medical marijuana supporters say the drug can
reduce pain, reduce muscle spasms, relieve nausea and increase appetite
(no Cheech and Chong jokes, please). Supporters say cancer patients and
AIDS sufferers are among those who have drawn real benefit from using
this drug.

In a story published Wednesday, the Globe Gazette Des Moines Bureau
introduced readers to George McMahon. The Livermore man is a participant
in a medical program run by the federal government. Count McMahon among
the believers.

"It was a miracle cure for me, and I'm wondering how many more
people out there are just like me," said McMahon, who suffers from
spasms and nausea.

We don't see the legal use of medical marijuana as likely in Iowa
anytime soon. We're approaching an election year and candidates will
want to avoid as many hot-button issues as they can. The debates about
same-sex marriage could be rancorous enough without an attempt to change
decades of drug policy.

State Rep. Linda Upmeyer, a nurse practitioner and Republican from
Garner, is interested in hearing what medical marijuana supporters have
to say.

"I guess I don't think it's one of those political
`third rails,' " Upmeyer said in Wednesday's story.
"I mean, I think people can have a reasonable discussion about it
and either support it or not support it, but I think mostly, people need
to know more."

At this point, we are not ready to make an endorsement in this matter.
We believe that while Iowans have a right to direct their own health
care we're not sure if medical marijuana is as good as advertised.
We also worry about the social cost of the partial legalization of such
an addictive drug.

But we're willing to give this matter a listen. We think our readers
should, too. This should be a thought-provoking debate, to say the


@What's your opinion? Write the Editor's Inbox at Box 271, Mason
City, IA 50402-0271 or news@globegazette. com. Comments also may be left
at www.globegazette. com.