Monday, October 12, 2009

LA DA Cooley Cracking Down on Marijuana Clinics

Los Angeles DA: `About 100%' of medical marijuana dispensaries
are illegal

Raw Story
By Stephen C. Webster

Saturday, October 10th, 2009 -- 2:34 pm

In spite of a law on California books for over a decade which allows the
sale of medical cannabis to properly licensed patients, the district
attorney in Los Angeles County is preparing an all-out legal assault
against the "vast majority" of dispensaries.

"Hundreds of dispensaries operate under a 1996 voter initiative that
allowed medical marijuana use, and a state law that allows for
collective growing of marijuana," NBC Los Angeles reported. "But based
on a state Supreme Court decision last year, [LA County District
Attorney Steve] Cooley has concluded that over-the-counter sales are
illegal. Most if not all of the dispensaries in the state operate on
that basis."

"The vast, vast, vast majority, about 100%, of dispensaries in Los
Angeles County and the city are operating illegally, they are dealing
marijuana illegally, according to our theory," Cooley said, according to
The Los Angeles Times. "The time is right to deal with this problem."

That "problem" -- over the counter sales of marijuana to licensed
patients -- accounted for some $18 million in tax revenue for the state
last year, reported The Christian Science-Monitor, during a time when
California is facing the greatest budgetary challenges in its history.

However, those with prescriptions for marijuana account for roughly 10
percent of the state's marijuana users, according to a California NORML
report (http://www.canorml. org/background/ OakZFinancialRep ort.pdf)
prepared for the Oakland Civil Liberties Alliance.

"In a radio interview on KABC-AM (790), Cooley reiterated his plan to
close down many of the 800 to 900 medical marijuana shops believed to be
operating in the city of Los Angeles," noted the Contra-Costa Times.

"We will give them fair notice and, hopefully, they will see the light
and voluntarily close down," Cooley reportedly said. "We are going to
uphold the laws of California."

The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), a group which advocates the
nation-wide legalization of cannabis for adults, strongly disagrees.

"Last year, the state’s attorney general issued a legal
opinion that clearly stated that 'a properly organized and operated
collective or cooperative that dispenses medical marijuana through a
storefront may be lawful under California law,'" MPP noted in Opposing
Views. "Maybe Cooley didn’t get the memo."

They continued: "If Cooley is somehow successful in eliminating L.A.'s
medical marijuana facilities, the effect would be disastrous for
patients forced to find their medicine in the underground market and
would be a boon to the violent drug cartels that often supply that
market. Voters in Los Angeles â€" who overwhelmingly support
medical marijuana â€" are probably scratching their heads
trying to figure out why their district attorney wants to enrich
criminal drug dealers at the expense of patients."

"Cooley and other officials say that in addition to selling to minors
and others who do not use the drug for medical purposes, some of the
dispensaries sell marijuana laced heavily with insecticides that
endanger users even as they help finance Mexican drug cartels,"
Contra-Costa added.

There are three voter-sponsored initiatives circulating California at
the moment which seek to put complete legalization and taxation of
marijuana on the state-wide ballot in 2010, according to the Orange
County Register.

"If one of these initiatives passes, California would become the first
state to legalize marijuana and impose a tax on it, a move proponents
say could help get the state out of an unprecedented budget crisis," the
paper reported.

DA Cooley's first targeted dispensary is "Organica," in Culver City,
according to Mercury News.

"We have our strategy and we think we are on good legal ground," Cooley
said, the LA Times noted.

Marijuana is California's most valuable cash crop, responsible for over
$14 billion in annual sales, according to Time magazine. If legalized
and taxed, it could produce $1.3 billion or more in revenues for the
state, California tax collectors have estimated.

http://rawstory. com/2009/ 10/los-angeles- da-warmedical- marijuana/

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