Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Riverside Dispensary Information

Pro: Dispensaries could generate taxes, help the sick

Lanny Swerdlow, R.N. • Special to The Desert Sun • August 4,

Americans are finally seeing through all the lies and distortions
perpetuated by government prohibition agencies that have made illegal a
medicine that has for 5,000 years effectively and safely treated a
cornucopia of debilitating ailments. The most egregious offenders are
law enforcement agencies who vehemently oppose the laws in the 13 states
that made medical marijuana legal. They fear that medical marijuana is
the proverbial camel's nose under the tent of marijuana legalization,
which would end their taxpayer-funded annual $20 billion orgy arresting
over 875,000 American for marijuana law prohibition violations.

A recent California Police Chiefs Association White Paper falsely
asserts that medical marijuana collectives are responsible for
neighborhood crime, omitting the inconvenient truth that the ubiquitous
convenience store is responsible for way more criminal activity than

For over two years, Palm Springs has understood the needs of patients
and turned a blind eye to two collectives operating in violation of the
city's zoning ordinances. One collective was practically next door to
the Palm Springs Chamber of Commerce. I truly doubt that the chamber
would have been silent as the neighborhood around them descended into
the cesspool of crime and violence predicted by the California Police
Chiefs Association.

Other than a patient growing their own or having a primary caregiver
grow for them, medical marijuana collectives are the only legal way
under California law for patients to obtain their medicine. Without
access to local collectives, many patients drive halfway across the
state to obtain their medicine. Most patients continue to obtain their
marijuana the old-fashioned way — they buy it from criminals. This
has the double negative effect of enriching criminals and denying local
governments sorely needed tax revenue as collectives must pay state
sales taxes.

In addition to the sales tax, Oakland has enacted a special business tax
on collectives, and Los Angeles is proposing a similar tax. Instead of
going untaxed into the pockets of criminals, these taxes, estimated to
run into the millions of dollars for these two municipalities alone,
will preserve essential city services that are being cut or drastically

Rather than being castigated, the Palm Springs City Council should be
lionized for enacting an ordinance that has made Palm Springs the first
city in the Inland Empire to follow state law and provide for
collectives. Although I believe the ordinance is conspicuously
constraining with needless zoning restrictions, bans on selling
vaporizers and even blue laws, the ferocious opposition by Riverside
County law enforcement necessitated that Palm Springs move very

Peer reviewed, evidence-based research demonstrates that marijuana
delays the onset age related illnesses like cancer and cardiovascular
disease along with its legendary uses to ease pain, facilitate sleep,
ameliorate depression, and effectively treat drug and alcohol
dependence. Medical marijuana collectives are an important part of a
community's health care facilities and should be allowed to operate with
and alongside hospitals, doctors' offices and pharmacies.

Lanny Swerdlow, R.N., is director of the Marijuana Anti-Prohibition
Project, an Inland Empire medical marijuana patient support group and
law reform organization. He can be reached at (760) 799-2055 and at
lanny@marijuananews .org.

http://www.mydesert .com/article/ 20090804/ COLUMNS26/ 908040305/ 1026/news12

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Con: Collectives will bring expensive legal battles

Lee Weigel • Special to The Desert Sun • August 4, 2009

A majority of the Palm Springs City Council recently voted to amend the
city's zoning ordinance to allow medical marijuana collectives in Palm
Springs. This shoots the city into the bullseye of the medical marijuana
debate: State and federal laws clash. The ensuing lawsuits wind through
courts. And cities struggle with the unintended consequences of the
laws, including illegal operations, impacts on public safety and
increased bureaucracy during tight economic times.

Central to this debate in Riverside County and its cities is the
sanctioning of collectives that could become the primary modality for
the distribution of marijuana to "qualified patients." Next
comes the struggle to find the ways and means to prevent the inevitable
related abuses.

The original intent of Proposition 215 was to remove criminal penalties
for personal use possession and cultivation of marijuana by patients who
obtain a physician's recommendation. In other words, if you grew
marijuana, used it at home and consulted a doctor who recommended
marijuana for your condition, you would have a defense for possession
and use. The law did not legalize marijuana or make it a medicine.

The proposition was expanded further under Senate Bill 420. It included
"those who associate within the State of California in order
collectively or collaboratively to cultivate marijuana for medical
purposes " Although we may agree there are legitimate qualified
users of "medical" marijuana, these laws do not allow for-profit
sale of marijuana for medical or any other use. They also don't require
local government to be the gatekeeper.

Allowing collectives in Palm Springs creates a legal, moral and ethical
quagmire. How many? Who runs them? Are the recipients properly screened?
Will the city be forced to defend lawsuits over the ordinance? How much
are we willing to spend on this?

Such local laws deter from high-priority crime control. I believe it is
unwise for cities to independently sanction, monitor and regulate these
activities. It adds unnecessary labor-intense regulation from the
permitting process to the added regulations to the extra law enforcement
requirements. That adds up to time and money the city cannot afford.

http://www.mydesert .com/article/ 20090804/ COLUMNS26/ 908040304/ 1026/news12\
/Con--Collectives- will-bring- expensive- legal-battles

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