Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Dispensary Ordinance Passes 1st Reading

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- Colorado Springs medical marijuana dispensary
owners are one vote away from guaranteeing their doors will stay open
come July 1st.

On Tuesday night, Colorado Springs City Council gave initial backing to
an ordinance that will create a pre-application process for medical
marijuana businesses. Under the proposed ordinance, businesses will have
to pay a $500 fee.

Council members also voted to require these businesses to be at least
400 feet away from a school, an alcohol or drug treatment facility, or a
residential child care facility. Medical marijuana businesses cannot be
located in a residential area.

Governor Bill Ritter is expected to sign into law a bill that will
require medical marijuana businesses to be licensed. House Bill 10-1284
was approved by state lawmakers May 12th.

The owner must have applied to a city by July 1, 2010 to remain open for
business. Under the law, dispensaries in communities that don't put new
regulations into place, would have to close their doors this summer.

City Officials say it will also give the council ample time to develop
an ordinance to regulate medical marijuana businesses. Since February
2010, the City Clerk along with the City Attorney, Colorado Springs
Police Department and members of the Cannabis Taskforce have been
working to develop an ordinance to regulate the medical marijuana

President of Cannabis Task Force, Tanya Garduno, said if this
pre-application ordinance doesn't pass, the entire medical marijuana
industry in Colorado Springs could be shut down. Garduno said, "it opens
up very opportunity for lawsuits in this city, last time I checked can't
afford that."

County pays $20,000 to replace medical marijuana

In yet another black mark against the current sheriff's
administration, San Luis Obispo County cut a $20,000 check on Monday to
a medical marijuana user whose cannabis was wrongfully destroyed.

In what appears to be the first time a government body has reimbursed a
medical marijuana user for destroying their cannabis, the county paid
46-year-old Kimberly Marshall the equivalent of $3,333 per pound, the
replacement value for this specially grown outdoor strain.

In a request for prosecution that was ultimately rejected by the county
district attorney's office, Sheriff's Deputy David Walker noted
that Marshall had in her possession a medical marijuana card and a
physician's statement that allowed her to possess up to six pounds
of dried marijuana buds.

The district attorney rejected the sheriff's request for prosecution
based on Marshall's medical defense. A few days later, the
sheriff's department filed a request for an order to destroy the
cannabis with assertions that there had been no claims that it was
medical marijuana.

"To the best of my knowledge, there has not been any request for
return of medical marijuana for medical reasons …, each case of
medical marijuana was reviewed and determined not to be for medical
purposes," McDaniel said in his request.

In September, after sheriff's officials destroyed Marshall's
medical marijuana, Deputy County Counsel Ann Duggan claimed sheriff
deputies were unaware the buds were for medical use.

"As far as I understand the factual background, the sheriff's
department has no record of your client's possession of a
physician's statement," Duggan said in a letter to
Marshall's attorney.

In response, Louis Koory, Marshall's attorney, filed a civil claim
asking the county to pay to replace Marshall's medical marijuana.

"The sheriff and the county were aware that under California law the
Sheriff was compelled to return the claimant's property in the
absence of pending criminal action," Koory said in the civil claim
he filed on Dec. 23.

Following a liver cancer diagnosis, doctors informed Marshall she had
less than a year to live. Though currently in remission, daily nausea, a
side effect of the cancer treatment, has caused her weight to drop to as
low as 98 pounds.

In addition, a car accident left Marshall with two herniated discs, a
fractured disc and a broken disc. Marshall has endured two back
surgeries, has constant pain and for days at a time is bedridden.

Doctors prescribed medical marijuana to ease her pain and nausea.

Monday, May 24, 2010

State gets medical marijuana dispensary initiative

PORTLAND — Supporters of an initiative to create a system of medical
marijuana dispensaries in Oregon have submitted petitions with more than
110,000 signatures in hopes of getting on the ballot this fall.

The Coalition for Patients' Rights was able to gather the signatures
before an early submission deadline, requiring the state Elections
Division to immediately determine whether there are enough valid
signatures to meet the minimum of about 83,000 needed to qualify.

In addition to dispensaries, the initiative would also create a system
of regulated medical marijuana producers.

Voters defeated a measure to create dispensaries in 2004 but supporters
say they believe opposition has declined.

They say the proposed initiative would also improve the existing Oregon
Medical Marijuana Act, approved in 1998 to establish quality control for
patients now required to grow their own marijuana or designate a

"When we drafted the original Oregon Medical Marijuana Act, we didn't
include provisions for dispensaries because federal law prohibited
that," said John Sajo, executive director of the Voter Power Foundation,
which organized the petition drive.

"Now that the Obama administration has indicated that they will allow
states to regulate medical marijuana, Oregon needs to create a regulated
system so every patient can access quality controlled medicine," Sajo

One of the leading opponents of the initiative, former state lawmaker
Kevin Mannix, said the number of signatures likely would ensure it
qualifies for the ballot but that law enforcement officials will review
it carefully.

"My gut check is they're breaking faith with the voters," Mannix said.
"I'm not saying they have broken faith. But we'll go back to promises
that were made when medical marijuana was on the ballot in 1998."

Supporters say the initiative will not change the medical conditions
needed to qualify as a patient under the 1998 act.

But it will allow the Oregon Department of Human Services to conduct
research into the safety and effectiveness of medical marijuana.

According to state figures, the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program has
about 33,000 registered patients.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

City Council Agrees to Limit Number of Marijuana Dispensaries

The Santa Barbara City Council approved revisions to its existing
medical marijuana ordinance at their Tuesday meeting, a decision that
would cap the number of medical marijuana dispensaries within city
limits to only five.

At the meeting, members of the SB Ordinance Committee presented their
recommended edits to the city's current medical marijuana ordinance,
which enforces a moratorium on opening new dispensaries within the city.
The revised ordinance — passed by the council in a 5-2 vote —
included a requirement that Santa Barbara dispensaries only sell their
bud to county residents possessing medical marijuana cards. Should the
revised ordinance be passed in a final vote when it is revisited by the
council on June 1, it will end a year of debate about area cannabis

City of Santa Barbara Senior Planner Danny Kato said the recommendations
that were adopted came about as a response to growing community concern
over the possibility that locals are abusing current marijuana laws.

"Basically, people thought that the existing ordinance was too
permissive and it allowed too many dispensaries too close together,"
Kato said. "The council decided that they agreed."

Santa Barbara businessman James Lee, who manages the Green Well medical
marijuana dispensary, said the successful passage of the new ordinance
would not significantly affect his store's day-to-day operations. In
fact, he said, he would be happy to see the matter resolved.

"I think the city is doing the right thing by putting regulations in
place," Lee said. "I hope it helps move the argument into the
past, so we can move forward. A lot of city resources have been expended
on this debate in the past year."

While Lee was satisfied with the restrictions, one local group said the
ordinance's new regulations are not tight enough. Santa Barbara
group the Downtown Organization said they want local lawmakers to
completely ban dispensaries.

Organization member and UC Santa Barbara alumnus Randy Rowse said the
group was concerned about drug abuse and the impact dispensaries may
have on nearby schools.

"By having dispensaries our community is allowing something to
happen that flies in the face of state law," Rowse said. "Under
the current parameters, anyone you know can be a patient."

Rowse, who graduated from UCSB in 1976, said marijuana has become
exponentially more powerful since his days, likely due to its intended
use for medical purposes.

"The stuff they have out there now is very different, more
potent," Rowse said. "The intent is that sick people are able to
get ahold of this from caregivers, who are not somebody standing behind
a counter with a bunch of jars."

Officials: Don't legalize marijuana

WILKES-BARRE – The comment made by the 13-year-old boy pretty much
sums up why Carmen Ambrosino, head of an area drug treatment program,
opposes legalizing marijuana for medical purposes.

The teen, one of roughly 500 juveniles that Wyoming Valley Alcohol and
Drug Services expects to treat this year, was discussing his use of
drugs with a counselor, Ambrosino said.

"If marijuana was legal for medical purposes, I'd get a
prescription and I would not have to come here for treatment," the
teenager said.

Ambrosino recounted the comment during a press conference he organized
Wednesday to voice opposition to two bills pending in the state
legislature that would legalize marijuana to treat certain medical

Acknowledging the issue is emotionally charged, Ambrosino appealed for
calm as he addressed the roughly 50 people who attended the conference
in the rotunda of the Luzerne County Courthouse, hoping to stave off a
confrontation with a group of dissenters.

Supporters of legalization occasionally shouted out comments, but
Ambrosino and other members of his group, including Wright Township
Police Chief Joe Jacob, West Pittston Mayor William Goldsworthy and
Luzerne County District Attorney Jacqueline Musto Carroll, were able to
speak without interruption for the most part.

House Bill 1393 and Senate Bill 1350 would establish "compassion
centers" that would dispense marijuana to persons with qualifying
medical conditions. The centers would be heavily regulated and patients
would be required to carry a special identification card.

The legislation is based on research that has shown marijuana to be
effective in treating numerous diseases and conditions, including
relieving symptoms associated multiple sclerosis, AIDS and glaucoma, and
in easing nausea caused by chemotherapy.

Ambrosino acknowledged there are legitimate medical uses for marijuana.
But he said the problems that would come with legalizing it for any
purpose would outweigh its benefits.

Among the key concerns is that legalization would give the drug a
legitimacy that would encourage people, particularly youths, to
experiment with it, he said.

He pointed to a recent study conducted by the University of Michigan. He
said the study concluded that debate over the medical use of marijuana
was partly to blame for an increase in teen marijuana use in the United
States. Researchers concluded teens may believe that marijuana is safer
drug than others.

Ambrosino said he's also concerned because the list of conditions
and diseases marijuana is said to help has expanded significantly over
the years and now includes such minor medical conditions as cramps.

"We are unleashing a monster, and once it's unleashed, it will
never put a leash on it again," Ambrosino said.

Jacob and Goldsworthy said their primary concern is that legalization
would lead to abuses in the dispensing of the drug, which they say have
materialized in other states where it was legalized.

"It's not being used for what it's supposed to be used
for," Goldsworthy said.

Musto Carroll said she also believes legalization would lead to abuses
and would make it much easier for youths to acquire.

"Law enforcement is fighting so desperately to take drugs off the
street. This law does not support our efforts. It would undermine
them," she said.

But supporters of the legislation said the problems cited by law
enforcement are prevalent with any drug. The potential for abuse is not
a legitimate reason to deny medications to people who could benefit from
them, they said.

Gloria Polney, 45, of Wilkes-Barre, was among several people who support
the legislation who attended the press conference. She suffers from
several medical conditions, including arthritis and irritable bowl
syndrome, which marijuana has been shown to be effective in treating.

Speaking after the event, Polney said she currently takes several potent
medications that cause extreme side effects, including fatigue,
depression and hair loss. She'd like to try marijuana, but won't
because it's illegal.

"Marijuana doesn't have those kind of side effects," she
said. "It won't take the pain away. But this stuff (I take now)
doesn't take the pain away either. I just have more scary side
effects than I would with marijuana."

Jeff Stanton of Falls refuted the notion that legalization for medical
purposes would lead other persons, who don't need it for medical
reasons, to use the drug.

"Do you think people are just biting at the bit to go smoke pot once
it becomes legal? People who don't smoke pot, don't smoke pot.
They're not gong to do it just because it's legal," he said.

Ambrosino said he respects the opinions of others, including other area
treatment providers who support medical marijuana. But he holds firm to
his position.

"A lot of people think I'm blind to the research. There is some
legitimacy, but I believe the harm outweighs it," he said.
"I'm disappointed with my colleagues, but don't call me
uniformed. We just have a different point of view."

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Council Moves Forward with Allowing Marijuana Dispensaries

In the end, as with most policy discussions, it came down to compromise.

After more than four hours of public comment and discussion, the Santa
Barbara City Council voted 5-2 Tuesday night to move forward with the
Ordinance Committee’s recommendations for revising the
city’s ordinance on medical marijuana dispensaries.

The council needed five votes to take action on the nearly yearlong
ordeal of revising the ordinance, originally adopted in 2008, and
members threw ideas for compromise around since the alternative most
likely would mean months more of deliberation â€" leading to the
same lack of consensus.

Though some community members have pushed for a ban all along, that
opinion has become louder recently, and a motion to send the Ordinance
Committee back to work on a ban failed in a 4-3 vote.

Councilman Frank Hotchkiss, who made the motion, eventually provided the
fifth vote to move forward with the recommendations put forth by him and
fellow Councilmen Grant House and Bendy White.

House, Councilman Das Williams and Mayor Helene Schneider were against
considering a ban, so it became a mission of maneuvering to get two more
votes to their side in last-minute changes if any action was to be

The frustration over the situation was obvious. After months of work,
community input and ever-changing specifics, people came forward during
public comment to say the ordinance revisions were not what they wanted,
and in some cases, that meant they supported an outright ban.

Santa Barbara School District Superintendant Brian Sarvis has presented
and reiterated the school board’s recommendations of requiring
1,000 feet between the storefronts and schools, limiting hours and other
student-related measures. On Tuesday, he said the proposed ordinance
“doesn’t protect kids and doesn’t protect
schools†by excluding those suggestions, so he supported a total

All along, the discussion â€" and Ordinance Committee’s task
â€" has focused on making stricter restrictions for the ordinance
to give the city enforcement power and to try, as much as possible, to
put safeguards in place against illegal activity and abuse.

The council voted to go ahead with the Ordinance Committee’s
recommendations, including a citywide cap of five and specific
record-keeping and member requirements.

In her motion, Schneider proposed changing the 500-foot requirement from
schools to 600 feet â€" the same as liquor stores â€" making
membership and cultivation limited to Santa Barbara County, eliminating
the downtown area as a possible location, requiring a 24-hour waiting
period and having applicant appeals go through the Planning Commission
then City Council.

The Rally

A rally held in De la Guerra Plaza before Tuesday’s council
meeting quickly turned ugly, as the recent Planning Commission
recommendation of a ban brought out passionate people on both sides of
the issue.

The news conference was put on by a pro-ban coalition made up of
citizens, substance abuse treatment organizations and school officials,
but dozens of medical marijuana patients and supporters came out against
the ban in what resulted in a nasty exchange.

The microphone was dominated by those who spoke of the harm allowing
marijuana storefronts â€" even for medical use â€" could do in
the community, given the chance for abuse and criminal activity. The
benefits for legitimate patients were outweighed by the risks, some

Members of substance abuse treatment organizations spoke about the harm
to children especially, while opponents screamed about the dangers of
pharmaceutical drugs and alcohol, saying they are arguably as available,
if not more, to young people.

Whenever someone mentioned a ban, the crowd exploded into deafening
shouts of “Bull****!†and “That’s your

While the group argued they weren’t trying to “take away
your marijuana,†as one woman put it, the patients in attendance
shouted that a ban would severely decrease their access.

SBCC President Andreea Serban said the storefronts send a mixed message
to students and make educators’ jobs more difficult, and the
crowd was quieter as she spoke.

The microphone was promptly turned off when the last person spoke, and
opponents of a ban were left milling around the steps of City Hall as
few went inside to speak during public comment. Many were frustrated at
not getting a chance to speak.

Holding a hand-drawn sign that read “Have a heart, let patients
spark,†medical marijuana patient Charles Mikich said a ban would
create difficulties for many people, as not everyone can grow it. He
also talked about how pharmaceutical drugs are pushed on children, a
common theme among those who came out against the ban, and that
marijuana had safer, legitimate medical advantages.

He and his wife, Alexis, said they support a requirement for the
storefronts to be located 1,000 feet from schools, but that children can
walk right into a pharmacy and steal off the shelves, vs. not being able
to even get in the door of a collective storefront.

“You can’t blame marijuana for bad parenting,†he

The Meeting

Once inside the Council Chambers, the hostility of the rally was left
behind and the general gist of public comment was the same as it has
been â€" mostly in favor of either a ban or the revised ordinance.

For the first time, members of the Police Officers Association and
attorney general candidate and Assemblyman Pedro Nava came forward to
support a full ban, though Nava made his announcement in letter form.

JC Hunter of the Santa Barbara Police Department said officers have been
encountering more driving under the influence arrests because of
marijuana use, with dispensary pill bottles and receipts found in the
cars, and party calls now consist of people sitting around smoking pot,
not just alcohol consumption. He said problems concerning the misuse of
marijuana spread out into the community at large.

The enforcement responsibility for police officers also was widely
discussed, as they have their hands full shutting down the illegal
dispensaries already identified.

Arguments over the legality of the storefronts and the medical need for
marijuana once again surfaced, but the discussion eventually came down
to the essential question on which city leaders hadn’t yet come
to a consensus: Does the city want to allow these storefront collectives
to exist, and if so, how much restriction should be placed on them?

House, White, Hotchkiss and Williams have all tackled the revisions
through work on the Ordinance Committee, as has vocal dissident and
Councilman Dale Francisco, so all were at least partly responsible for
the recommendations put forth Tuesday. During the past few months,
Schneider has expressed her support for the more restrictive ordinance

Councilwoman Michael Self, new to the council and not a member of the
Ordinance Committee, hadn’t had the opportunity to speak at
length about the issue until Tuesday. She voted against the motion.

The proposed ordinance, with Tuesday’s last-minute additions, is
likely to go before the council for introduction and adoption in two

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Proposed initiative to legalize pot

The proposed I-1068 would make this illegal act above not a criminal act
providing the person is over 18 years old.

The statewide legalization of marijuana is the subject of a proposed
initiative in Washington state that, if the necessary requirements are
met, will be on the ballot in November.

As read from the initiative itself, "This measure would remove state
civil and criminal penalties for persons 18 years or older who
cultivate, possess, transport, sell, or use marijuana. Restrictions and
penalties for persons under 18 would be retained."

Initiative 1068 is officially sponsored by the group Sensible Washington
and was co-authored by Seattle attorneys Doug Hiatt and Jeffrey
Steinborn, Vivian McPeak, founder of Seattle's Hempfest, Ric Smith,
Cannabis Defense Coalition spokesman and former Seattle Weekly
contributor Philip Dawdy, who also serves as the movement's campaign

"We waste about $100 million a year enforcing outdated marijuana
laws," Dawdy said. "Considering the harmlessness of the
substance we're talking about, the state is really wasting a lot of

Dawdy stated that if passed into law, I-1068 would also allow farmers to
grow hemp and would clean up medical marijuana laws, which he believes
"are a disaster."

In order for this initiative to be on the ballot in November, a
statutory requirement of 241,153 signatures from citizens who are
registered to vote by July 2 is needed, though Sensible Washington has
set a goal of approximately 320,000 signatures to make up for invalid

"My boss has not authorized me to give the exact number of
signatures we have, but I can tell you we're about one-third of the
way there," said Dawdy. "We're positioned right where we
want to be; most signatures come in June."

Not all Washington citizens support the initiative, including Lisa
Romwall, treatment director at the Kitsap Recovery Center and adjunct
faculty member at Olympic College.

"You have to consider that I've been treating marijuana
addiction for 35 years now, and it is the third most abused drug we see
here at the recovery center," she said. "I just don't see
any upside in making marijuana legal in terms of helping people with
life skills."

Romwall said there is evidence to suggest that the use of marijuana can
negatively affect the autoimmune system, and that it can cause
fibromyalgia, in addition to other long-term physical effects.

"People just don't realize that it is more of an addictive drug
than is commonly perceived," Romwall said. "And I think it is
more complex a drug than users want to believe."

Romwall clarified that although she is opposed to the legalization of
marijuana, she does not oppose the decriminalization of it.

"I don't think marijuana users should go to jail," she said.
"They just need treatment."

Dawdy said he is confident that if Sensible Washington is able to garner
the necessary signatures, I-1068 will be voted into law.

"I've seen countless individuals who support this," he said.
"And to those who claim that it is a overly harmful for you, I
challenge you to read the scientific literature."

The question now is not if the bill will pass, but if Sensible
Washington can get their goal of 320,000 signatures, though Dawdy is
also confident that this too is possible.

"The people are looking at these outdated laws and they know that
it's time to make a change," he said.

Those who support I-1068 can visit Sensible Washington's website, and find a list of local businesses that
have the initiative available to sign including Pied Pipers Emporium in

Group including 2 City Council members asks feds to legalize marijuana

EL PASO -- A group that includes two El Paso City Council members today is asking the federal government to legalize marijuana. The event is timed in anticipation of a state visit to Washington, D.C., Wednesday by Mexican President Felipe Calderón.

El Paso city Reps. Beto O'Rourke and Susie Byrd are helping to organize the event, at 1 p.m. at the base of the Paso del Norte Bridge, which connects El Paso to Juárez. Oscar Martinez, a Juárez native and history professor at the University of Arizona, will speak.

The Obama administration is about to unveil an initiative to reduce the demand for illegal drugs in the United States. It will include more money for drug treatment.

But O'Rourke also wants Obama to lead an effort to legalize, regulate and tax marijuana.

U.S. residents spend $8 billion to $9 billion a year on marijuana from Mexico, O'Rourke said. That money helps fuel a drug war that has taken more than 5,000 lives in Juárez since the start of 2008, O'Rourke said.

"You have the deadliest city in the world on one side of the bridge and the second-safest city in the U.S. on the other," O'Rourke said.

O'Rourke has twice pushed City Council resolutions calling on the U.S. government to reconsider its drug policy. If they had been OK'd, they would have been only symbolic measures.

Marty Schladen may be reached at;546-6127.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Police: Lack of Marijuana Rules Cause Violence

MISSOULA – Recent acts of violence linked to medical marijuana are
the result of a lack of state policy regulating the fast-growing
business, law enforcement officials in Montana say.

In the last month, a medical marijuana grower in Kalispell was killed in
a drug robbery, two qualified caregivers in Ravalli County beat with a
bat a man they thought was stealing marijuana, and two medical marijuana
businesses in Billings were firebombed, police said.

"Anyone growing medical marijuana is going to be a target because it is
a desirable commodity for illicit purposes," said Ravalli County Sheriff
Chris Hoffman. "That's it in a nutshell."

Montana voters legalized medical marijuana by passing a ballot
initiative in 2004, and the Obama administration announced in September
it would not prosecute medical marijuana cases even though federal law
lists marijuana as an illegal drug.

But law enforcement agencies say the language in Montana's law is vague.

"This is exactly what we were concerned about when the initiative passed
and we saw the proposed language," Hoffman said. "This kind of violence
is one of the first things that law enforcement as a body was concerned
about. In my opinion, the state did not go far enough in terms of
regulating this. There are just so many things they did not think about
in terms of community safety, and where it (marijuana) is propagated and

The number of registered medical marijuana patients in Montana since
June 2009 has jumped from almost 3,000 to more than 12,000.

Missoula City Council member Bob Jaffe said the recent violence is not
that big a phenomenon.

"It's a whole lot of smoke," Jaffe said. "I'm not that concerned about
it. From a municipal standpoint, it seems that there is no difference
between medical marijuana businesses and the long-standing system for
legal drug distribution that we have for pharmacies. The demand for
illicit oxycodone is much more of an issue, if you ask me. Every month
or two we have a pharmacy break-in."

Tom Daubert is director of Patients and Families United, a group that
represents medical marijuana users. He helped promote the state's
medical marijuana initiative.

"The vagueness of Montana's current law is being deliberately and
consciously exploited, and that is not what we envisioned," he said.

Boulder to finalize medical marijuana rules, take on grassland management

With its annual summer vacation looming, the Boulder City Council on
Tuesday will tackle several major proposals, including setting rules for
medical marijuana, debating the first comprehensive grassland management
plan and voting on "SmartRegs" for rental properties.

Here's a look at what's on the agenda.

Medical marijuana

Setting new rules for the medical marijuana industry in Boulder is all
but a done deal.

The City Council on May 4 approved sweeping regulations for the
blossoming industry of dispensaries and growing operations, but the
council still needs to finalize the decision Tuesday.

The third public reading is on the council's consent agenda, so it won't
come with a full public hearing. Advocates and opponents of the
proposal, however, will have one last chance to weigh in before the vote
during the first 45 minutes of public comment time.

The rules, as proposed, would create a licensing system for
dispensaries, set hours of operation, require security and limit the
amount of marijuana each business can have on hand.

Owners would have to undergo criminal background checks, pay a licensing
fee of up to $5,000 and keep detailed records about patients and sales
of the drug for the city to inspect. Marijuana operations could not be
within 500 feet of schools or licensed day-care centers, and they would
have to offset 100 percent of their growing operation with wind or solar

City officials are still figuring out how Boulder's rules would interact
with state rules that Gov. Bill Ritter is expected to sign.


For the first time, members of the public will be able to tell the
entire City Council, face-to-face, how they feel about the city's
proposed SmartRegs -- a contentious set of rules that, among other
things, would require landlords to make energy-efficiency upgrades.

The proposed rules would make three major changes.

First, the city is considering adopting the International Property
Maintenance Code, which is more comprehensive than Boulder's existing
housing code.

Another proposal is to create a new system for licensing and inspecting
rental properties, increasing the fees for a rental license from $46 to
$70 and charging a $250 fee if the city has to investigate a property
for not complying with the rental code.

Perhaps the most divisive proposal is to require landlords to make
improvements that could include installing energy-efficient appliances,
sealing ducts or better insulating their rental properties.

In a rare move, the council will hold a full public hearing on the first
reading of the regulations. That will give the public at least two
opportunities to comment about the regulations before the elected
officials take a final vote.

Grassland Ecosystem Management Plan

The city of Boulder is looking to adopt a comprehensive management plan
that would cover 24,000 acres of grassland habitat and open space.

As proposed, the Grassland Ecosystem Management Plan would set the
allowed uses for grasslands, wetlands, riparian areas, agricultural
operations on open space and protections for prairie dogs.

Grasslands represent about half of Boulder's open space properties,
which are mostly located in Boulder County or Jefferson County.

The management plan would add 168 acres to the areas where prairie dogs
could be relocated, and it sets budgets and priorities for projects like
repairing irrigation ditches, setting a plan for controlled burns on
grasslands and constructing fish passages along Boulder Creek.

The council will be asked to adopt the plan Tuesday night.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Effort to get legalization measure on ballot grows

The campaign aiming to tax and regulate marijuana through the Oregon
Cannabis Tax Act (OCTA) is circulating petitions to get the measure on
the ballot for November's general election.

By creating a committee to oversee the taxation and regulation of
marijuana, OCTA would effectively decriminalize the cultivation,
possession and personal use of marijuana in Oregon. The measure would be
the first law of its kind in the nation.

However, OCTA advocate Matt Switzer said cannabis regulation is a
nascent movement, with Californians set to vote on the legalization of
cannabis in November and Washington and Oregon cannabis legalization
advocates in a similar predicament: scrambling to pool enough signatures
to give the proposals life on election day.

OCTA supporters admit they have a long way to go before the measure can
be brought to the ballot for a vote.

"The proposed initiative needs 100,000 signatures by July before it
can be placed on the November ballot," Switzer said. "We have
less than 5,000 signatures."

OCTA supporters reference an alliance they have with Law Enforcement
Against Prohibition to fortify their case against the current
criminalization of cannabis.

LEAP Executive Director Jack Cole, a 26-year New Jersey state police
officer, said the injustice perpetuated by the current marijuana law has
him fighting in California to assure the passage of cannabis

"When you prohibit any drug, you create an underground market for
that drug, and that attracts criminal activity," Cole said.
"Marijuana — it's just a weed; it has zero value until we
say it's illegal, then the price artificially inflates, becomes so
obscenely high, that up until about a year ago when the economy took a
turn, marijuana was worth more, ounce for ounce, than gold."

Cole said movements toward taxing and regulating cannabis were fighting
for ballot measures in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire,
Nevada, California, Washington and Oregon.

The changes proposed by OCTA would not interfere with current medical
marijuana laws defined by the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act. Switzer said
the proposal, which would be ballot measure 73 if enough signatures are
gathered come July, does not yet face any organized opposition, but
opposition will probably develop if the proposal gains traction in the

"There will most likely be some backlash from those agencies who
will likely see a decrease in revenue, along with marijuana farmers who
may see the exorbitant price they charge decrease as the black market no
longer will have a monopoly on the plant," Switzer said.

Cole predicted opposition would stem from law enforcement agencies, who
he said receive 20 percent of their current budget from state revenue
provided for the war on drugs.
Switzer said the challenge precluding the revolutionary changes proposed
by OCTA is not only opposition from without, but hesitation from within.

"Stoners are chronically bad at engaging with the political process,
and many have reservations signing their names and addresses endorsing
the legalization of a substance the government has for years lied
about," he said. "We are trying to stress that this is a civil
rights issue and that American citizens should not be imprisoned because
of harmless beliefs and actions simply because someone saw they could
make money from persecuting a large portion of the country."

City Council Begins Evaluation of Marijuana Laws

The Berkeley City Council continued to hash out the legal semantics of
cannabis dispensaries and collectives at Wednesday night's meeting, the
first of a four-week series.

With the intent to evaluate proposals to tax medical marijuana and amend
zoning regulations, the Medical Marijuana Subcommittee spent the first
meeting clarifying legal statues and definitions.

"The objective is to potentially go to the ballot in November," said
Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates. "To do this we need to learn about the legal
framework about marijuana issues in general."

Deputy City Attorney Matthew Orebic presented a summary of federal,
state and local laws concerning the use of medical marijuana.

Berkeley legally recognized collectives in 2001, allowing for groups of
individuals to cultivate and exchange medical marijuana between members.
Unlike dispensaries, collectives cannot operate for commercial retail,
Orebic said.

He added that there have long been vague distinctions between
collectives and dispensaries, noting that a 2001 ordinance recognized
the right of collectives to cultivate cannabis but failed to provide a
clear definition of a collective. A 2004 ordinance limiting the number
of dispensaries within the city to three did not adequately address
collectives' right to exist, he said.

"What we hadn't thought all the way through was the way 'collective' had
been defined in the 2001 ordinance," Orebic said. "When we added the cap
in 2004, we added the definition of dispensaries. A dispensary must also
be a collective. We inadvertently outlawed collectives."

Throughout the discussion, committee members questioned details in
zoning definitions pertaining to grandfather laws and retail and school
zones because the number of dispensaries remains limited to three.

However, community members at the meeting said there is a growing demand
for medical marijuana that can only be fixed by increasing the number of

Councilmember Max Anderson said he was concerned with the practical
implications of a tax because enforcement would be difficult if
collectives were pushed further underground or if they started trading
with cities beyond Berkeley's jurisdiction.

Debby Goldsberry, spokesperson for Berkeley Patients Group, said she
supports a tax on collectives because it will lead to increased
regulation and a safer community.

"There's a lot of small-scale collectives that are growing without being
taxed," she said. "It's safer for our community if we regulate and
license them."

Although there were still ambiguities after the meeting, the
subcommittee hopes to report back by June 22, according to Bates, in
order to meet the 2011 fiscal year budget deadline.

"We have four weeks," Anderson said. "We have plenty of time."

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Governor Bill Ritter to Sign Marijuana Bill

Governor Bill Ritter has indicated he will sign a bill regulating state
marijuana dispensaries.

Colorado lawmakers have passed a bill allowing state officials to
regulate medicinal marijuana dispensaries within the state.

The State House voted 46-19 on Tuesday afternoon to approve House Bill
1284 (78 pages -\
EC6DB1E8872576A80029D7E2?Open&file=1284_rer.pdf). The bill will require
local dispensaries to obtain licenses before selling marijuana to
patients. The bill will also allow bans on dispensaries within local
communities. Caregivers would still be able to obtain and dispense the
drug. In addition, the measure regulates where dispensaries can be
located (no closer than 1,000 feet from a school, much like liquor

Opponents have criticized the measure as legitimizing marijuana.

Supporters of the legislation argue it will help regulate an industries
in which thousands already depend on.

Regulators expect only about half of the existing 1,100 dispensaries in
the state to be able to continue operating under the rules.

Under the proposal, owners would have to undergo criminal background
checks, and the state's revenue department would check to insure
that all funding is free of criminal ties. Dispensaries would also have
to grow 70 percent of their marijuana, a provision aimed at keeping tabs
on where the drug is being sold.

Among the most controversial components of the bill include a provision
keeping the location of marijuana grows secret. Some members of the
House wanted to try to negotiate those parts out of the bill before the
end of the session on Wednesday.

Combined with another bill seeking to regulate the doctor-patient
relationships, lawmakers feel they finally have a grasp on the issue.

"We believe it's in as good a place as it's going to be," Mr. Ritter

State to Get $100 Million in Pot Taxes

While California begins to debate the consequences of taxing and
regulating cannabis for personal use, it's important to note that the
state is already taxing and regulating the product. California Board of
Equalization official Anita Gore told the Express last week that the
board estimates it collects anywhere from $50 million to more than $100
million in sales taxes per year from cannabis dispensaries.

That's on top of the millions of dollars municipalities like Oakland
have begun collecting in local taxes and fees. Gore said the board
doesn't have more precise figures because dispensaries are not required
to report the exact business they are in. Their taxes come in under
several categories, such as "retail" and "pharmacy," Gore said. The
board estimates the state can make $1.4 billion annually from fully
integrating cannabis into the economy.

Obama's $15 Billion Drug War

President Obama's Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske ended the decades-long
practice of calling federal drug prohibition efforts a War on Drugs in
2009, but the war's funding continues at Bushian levels. According to
the leaked draft of the Executive Branch's National Drug Control
Strategy for 2010-2011, the president will spend about $15 billion a
year on drug prohibition, in the same ballpark as his predecessor George
W. Bush, who spent at least $13 billion in 2007.

Prohibition reformer Russ Jones said comparing federal budgets year over
year is like comparing apples to oranges, though, because different
administrations measure expenditures different ways. Federal budgets do
not include state and local prohibition costs, which could bring annual
expenditures to an estimated $70 billion per year.

This year, the Executive Office will spend its biggest chunks of money
on the Drug Enforcement Administration ($2.4 billion), and the Substance
Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration ($2.6 billion). Though
funding has stayed the same, Obama drastically demoted the position of
drug czar from a cabinet level position to one that reports to an aide
of Vice President Joe Biden. And staff at the Office of National Drug
Control Policy recently leaked to Newsweek that the drug czar cannot get
on the calendars of the president or the vice president to announce the
national drug control strategy.

According to Newsweek: "Critics are raising questions about whether
Kerlikowske's office — with a staff of about 100 and a budget of
$400 million — still serves a vital function. Created by Congress at
the height of the drug war in 1988, the office has, at times, been led
by formidable figures like Bill Bennett and Barry McCaffrey.
Kerlikowske, who is barely on the public radar, disputes accounts that
he's frustrated and lacks access. As for funding constraints, he says,
'We couldn't have picked a more difficult economic time.'" But, he adds,
'we're beginning to move this thing forward.'"

The Obama strategy also hints at more needle exchanges to cut the spread
of AIDS, reforming the ineffective DARE program, and reviewing federal
laws that "impede recovery," like the devastating one that revokes
financial aid for students who get a marijuana infraction.

Ex-Drug Warrior Concludes Talks

Noted Law Enforcement Against Prohibition speaker Russ Jones — a Bay
Area native and retired San Jose Police Department undercover narcotics
detective — ends his tour of Rotary clubs and colleges around the
bay this week. Below, an excerpt from our interview on the regrets of a
drug warrior.

Legalization Nation: Do you have any regrets? Specific cases that stick
in your memory?

Russ Jones: There is a case I like to point out. It was downtown San
Jose and another police officer had made a stop on three kids who were
touring San Jose on a Saturday night. You know, driving around in
circles like in American Graffiti.

And the officer pulled three kids out of the car and he didn't know but
one kid panicked and tried to swallow a small baggy of marijuana —
and I pulled up just to watch and assist if needed and didn't realize
what was going on either. And this kid died in front of us choking on a
bag of marijuana. So those kind of things bother me. See: he died
because of the War on Drugs. He didn't die because of marijuana, he died
because he panicked over these stupid laws we have.

We live now in an age where if you had some youthful indiscretions, you
can admit your youthful indiscretions and still become a cop, a DEA
agent, a lawyer, a professor, a senator, or you could even become
president. But if you are caught, you will achieve none of those and in
some states you can't even become a hairdresser. There something wrong
with that picture.

Jones speaks this week in Gilroy, San Jose, and Wednesday, May 19 in
Walnut Creek at the Diablo Valley Democratic Club.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

New drug control strategy signals policy shift

By SAM HANANEL (AP) â€" 1 hour ago\

(Brett adds - You can read the ONDCP 2010 Strategy report at - and the ONDCP press
release is below)

WASHINGTON â€" President Barack Obama on Tuesday announced a
revised approach to "confronting the complex challenge of drug use and
its consequences," putting more resources into drug prevention and

The new drug control strategy boosts community-based anti-drug programs,
encourages health care providers to screen for drug problems before
addiction sets in and expands treatment beyond specialty centers to
mainstream health care facilities.

"By boosting community-based prevention, expanding treatment,
strengthening law enforcement and working collaboratively with our
global partners, we will reduce drug use and the great damage it causes
in our communities," Obama said. "I am confident that when we take the
steps outlined in this strategy, we will make our country stronger and
our people healthier and safer."

The plan â€" the first drug plan unveiled by the Obama White House
â€" calls for reducing the rate of youth drug use by 15 percent
over the next five years and for similar reductions in chronic drug use,
drug abuse deaths and drugged driving.

In an interview Monday, Gil Kerlikowske, the White House drug czar,
said, "It changes the whole discussion about ending the war on drugs and
recognizes that we have a responsibility to reduce our own drug use in
this country."

Kerlikowske criticized past drug strategies for measuring success by
counting the number of children and teens who have not tried marijuana.
At the same time, he said, the number of deaths from illegal and
prescription drug overdoses was rising.

"Us facing that issue and dealing with it head on is important,"
Kerlikowske said.

The new drug plan encourages health care professionals to ask patients
questions about drug use even during routine treatment so that early
intervention is possible. It also helps more states set up electronic
databases to identify doctors who are overprescribing addictive pain

"Putting treatment into the primary health care discussion is critical,"
Kerlikowske said.

The policy shift comes in the wake of several other drug policy reforms
since Obama took office. Obama signed a measure repealing a two-decade
old ban on the use of federal money for needle-exchange programs to
reduce the spread of HIV. His administration also said it won't target
medical marijuana patients or caregivers as long as they comply with
state laws and aren't fronts for drug traffickers.

Earlier this year, Obama called on Congress to eliminate the disparity
in sentencing that punishes crack crimes more heavily than those
involving powder cocaine.

Some drug reform advocates like the direction Obama is heading, but
question whether the administration's focus on treatment and prevention
programs is more rhetoric than reality at this point. They point to the
national drug control budget proposal released earlier this year, for
example, which continues to spend about twice as much money on
enforcement as it does on programs to reduce demand.

"The improved rhetoric is not matched by any fundamental shift in the
budget or the broader thrust of the drug policy," said Ethan Nadelmann,
executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, which favors drug policy

Nadelmann praised some of Obama's changes, but said he is disappointed
with the continued focus on arresting, prosecuting and incarcerating
large numbers of people.

Kerlikowske rejected that as "inside the Beltway discussion," and said
there are many programs that combine interdiction and prevention.

The drug control office's budget request does include a 13 percent
increase in spending on alcohol and drug prevention programs, along with
a 3.7 percent increase for addiction treatment.\


ONDCP Press Release:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, May 11, 2010

President Obama Releases National Strategy To Reduce Drug Use and Its

New Balanced and Collaborative Approach Emphasizes Prevention,
Treatment, Enforcement, International Cooperation

WASHINGTON, DC - Today, President Obama released the Administration's
inaugural National Drug Control Strategy, which establishes five-year
goals for reducing drug use and its consequences through a balanced
policy of prevention, treatment, enforcement, and international
cooperation. The Strategy was developed by the Office of National Drug
Control Policy (ONDCP) with input from a variety of Federal, State, and
local partners.

"This Strategy calls for a balanced approach to confronting the complex
challenge of drug use and its consequences," said President Obama. "By
boosting community-based prevention, expanding treatment, strengthening
law enforcement, and working collaboratively with our global partners,
we will reduce drug use and the great damage it causes in our
communities. I am confident that when we take the steps outlined in this
Strategy, we will make our country stronger and our people healthier and

The 2010 Strategy highlights a collaborative and balanced approach that
emphasizes community-based prevention, integration of evidence-based
treatment into the mainstream health care system, innovations in the
criminal justice system to break the cycle of drug use and crime, and
international partnerships to disrupt transnational drug trafficking

During a nationwide listening tour soliciting input for the development
of the Strategy, National Drug Policy Director Gil Kerlikowske met with
police and medical professionals, drug treatment providers and people in
recovery, elected officials, corrections officials, academics, parents
groups, faith leaders, and others. Throughout the consultation process,
significant themes emerged which connect the drug issue to major
Administration policy priorities, including the economy, health care
reform, youth development, public safety, military and veterans' issues,
and foreign relations.

"In following President Obama's charge to seek a broad range of input in
the Strategy, I gained a renewed appreciation of how deeply concerned
Americans are about drug use," said Director Kerlikowske. "It touches
virtually all of us, whether we know a family member, a friend, or a
colleague who suffers from addiction or is in recovery, a police officer
working to protect the community, or a parent striving to keep a child
drug free," said Director Kerlikowske.

The 2010 Strategy establishes five-year goals to reduce drug use and its
consequences, including:

* Reduce the rate of youth drug use by 15 percent;
* Decrease drug use among young adults by 10 percent;
* Reduce the number of chronic drug users by 15 percent;
* Reduce the incidence of drug-induced deaths by 15 percent; and
* Reduce the prevalence of drugged driving by 10 percent.

In addition, the Strategy outlines three significant drug challenges on
which the Administration will specifically focus this year: prescription
drug abuse, drugged driving, and preventing drug use. Prescription drug
abuse is the Nation's fastest growing drug problem, driving significant
increases of drug overdoses in recent years. Drugged driving poses
threats to public safety, as evidenced by a recent roadside survey which
found that one in six drivers on weekend nights tested positive for the
presence of drugs. Preventing drug use before it starts is the best way
to keep America's youth drug-free. In addressing each of these issues,
the Strategy outlines a research-driven, evidence-based, and
collaborative approach.

New Strategy elements also include a focus on making recovery possible
for every American addicted to drugs through an expansion of community
addiction centers and the development of new medications and
evidence-based treatments for addiction. Continued support for law
enforcement, the criminal justice system, disrupting domestic drug
traffic and production, working with partners to reduce global drug
trade, and innovative community-based programs, such as drug courts,
play a critical role in reducing American drug use and its effects.

For more information about the 2010 National Drug Control Strategy,
watch a video message from R. Gil Kerlikowske, Director of National Drug
Control Policy, or visit

Monday, May 3, 2010

San Bernardino County pot law in limbo

Andrew Edwards, Staff Writer

Posted: 05/02/2010 07:02:40 AM PDT

Medical marijuana advocates say they are frustrated with what they see
as San Bernardino County's refusal to pass a law defining how cannabis
providers should operate.

"They're making up their own rules as they go," said Abel Chapa, a
self-described volunteer for San Bernardino Patients Association, a
Chino-area collective that sheriff's deputies raided in late March.

In the eyes of Chapa and Inland Empire cannabis advocate Lanny Swerdlow,
county law enforcement is willfully ignoring California's medical
marijuana laws and is presently using all means at its disposal to keep
prevent patients from obtaining medical marijuana.

That's not correct, Assistant District Attorney Dennis Christy said.
Christy said the prosecutor's office is working with other county
departments to craft a law governing medical marijuana outlets. He said
the office is simultaneously intent on bringing cases against those
suspected of breaking the law.

"No one wants to keep marijuana out of the hands of those people who are
suffering from cancer or other maladies where the law says that's a
remedy," Christy said.

Medical marijuana advocates say the otherwise illegal marijuana, or
cannabis, can help patients suffering from cancer, chronic pain,
glaucoma and other ailments deal with their afflictions.

Skeptics are just as likely to say that medical marijuana laws are just
a legal loophole that allows stoners to get high on the basis of such
acute medical problems as headaches or stress.

Chapa, 58, said he uses cannabis to alleviate osteoarthritis and knee
pain. He and six others have been charged with multiple felonies for
allegedly using the collective as a front for illegal marijuana sales.
The prosecutor in charge of that case, James Hoffman, said he could not
comment on the case's specifics, except to say that it was being
operated illegally.

Chapa said he does not expect to be convicted of any wrongdoing. He and
four other defendants are scheduled to appear May 13 for a preliminary
hearing in San Bernardino Superior Court. Chapa said collective
supporters will rally outside the courthouse on that day.

The San Bernardino Patients Association case is shaping up as but one
example of the marijuana-related court proceedings that have taken place
in the 13 years since California voters legalized medical marijuana use
by passing Prop. 215.

The years since November 1996 has not been enough time for municipal
officials, law enforcement or cannabis users to agree on how to balance
medical needs with cops' desire to clamp down on drug dealers or the
fact that some people just don't want to be around marijuana.

San Bernardino County spokesman David Wert said that for every person
who wants medical marijuana dispensaries, there are 100 others who don't
want dispensaries near their homes, schools or churches.

One of the stickier issues related to Prop. 215 is that although it
allows some people with medical problems to use marijuana, it does not
specifically lay out where marijuana can be obtained.

Prop. 215 does not, Wert said, create a right for medical marijuana to
set up the kinds of storefront outlets that are commonly referred to as

Several cities, including San Bernardino and Redlands, have laws banning
dispensaries. County government has a moratorium forbidding new
dispensaries from opening up within its unincorporated territories.

That moratorium expires June 19, and the Board of Supervisors can then
extend it or adopt an ordinance laying out the rules for regulating

There's a good chance, Wert said, that supervisors will decide to
prolong the moratorium. Besides intra-county issues, Wert said
litigation between Anaheim and a dispensary there could redefine what
local governments can do when it comes to dispensaries.

Americans for Safe Access, a pro-medical marijuana group, reports the
case could decide whether local governments actually have the power to
ban dispensaries. The case is in the state's 4th Appellate District and
an opinion is expected by July 19.

Swerdlow, director of the Marijuana Anti-Prohibition Project, said he
thinks county officials have no intention of ever passing an ordinance
to regulate dispensaries and are intent upon arresting medical marijuana
users and providers.

"You have absolutely no concept or knowledge of what you have to do to
be legal," Swerdlow said.

Swerdlow has spoken against local marijuana policies for a long time,
and San Bernardino County has a record of resisting medical marijuana.
Along with San Diego County, authorities here went to court to challenge
S.B. 420, the state law requiring counties to issue ID cards to help
medical marijuana patients avoid arrest.

San Bernardino County supervisors did not approve an ID program until
July 2009, weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the
county's arguments.

Contrary to Swerdlow's fears, Christy said an ordinance actually is in
the works. Putting one together is difficult, however, because county
officials want to establish an inspection program to make sure marijuana
collectives are actual nonprofits and do not acquire or deliver cannabis
outside of the "closed-circuit" of their membership.

"When you have businesses that are essentially marijuana distribution
enterprises, you cannot close your eyes to that," Christy said.

But how long marijuana will remain illegal in California is unknown.
Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, is backing a bill to legalize
marijuana and the issue could go up for a public vote in November.

An initiative called the Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act is
scheduled to go on the Nov. 2 ballot. If passed, the law would allow
Californians 21 and older to possess and grow limited amounts of

Republican Lawmakers Propose Banning Pot Dispensaries

DENVER -- As Colorado lawmakers try to figure how to regulate medical
marijuana dispensaries, others are pushing to ban them.

A referendum proposed by some Republican lawmakers would require that
only actual people -- not shops -- be able to provide medical marijuana
to patients. Those caregivers would also have to help patients with the
daily necessities of life.

The proposal is up for its first hearing before the Senate Judiciary
Committee Monday.

Prosecutors and Attorney General John Suthers have been urging lawmakers
not to regulate dispensaries, arguing it will legitimize an industry
that they say wasn't sanctioned under the medical marijuana law passed
by voters in 2000. Backers of Amendment 20 say the law does reference
dispensing of the drug.