Sunday, September 27, 2009



Newshawk: From the printed edition of the Times
Pubdate: Sat, 26 Sep 2009
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Page: A2
Copyright: 2009 Los Angeles Times
Author: Sandy Banks
Cited: Los Angeles City Council
Bookmark: (Marijuana - Medicinal)


Is It Fair, or Even Reasonable, to Require People ... to Work the Fields in Exchange for Medication?

She didn't know whether she'd have the nerve to speak. But Judy Bowen signed the list and took a seat amid the pot smokers and growers, the lawyers and doctors, the Rastafarians and AIDS patients crowded into the Los Angeles City Council hearing room.

And when her turn came, she gripped her cane, made her way to the microphone and joined a chorus of would-be lawbreakers, there to fight a proposed ordinance that would ban the sale of medical marijuana in Los Angeles.

Bowen showed up at the council hearing because renegade marijuana shops have become the scourge of neighborhoods like hers in South Carthay, where a dozen storefront dispensaries have sprouted along Pico Boulevard between La Cienega and La Brea.

And because she "holds a prescription for medical marijuana" and sometimes relies on the drug for "extra help" with the pain from an autoimmune disorder.

"I was expecting the city attorney's office to take a hard line with regulations, like how far they should be from schools and places of worship," Bowen told me after the hearing.

But she was shocked to learn that the ordinance being considered would stop over-the-counter sales at dispensaries and allow only "collectives," where patients would have to plant, grow and harvest the marijuana they need.

"I can't grow my own," said Bowen, a 56-year-old former talent agent. "I have a brown thumb."

The line drew laughs from council members. But the prospects for patients like her aren't very funny.

In the 13 years since California voters approved the nation's first initiative allowing the "compassionate use" of marijuana for medical ailments, Los Angeles officials have taken a hands-off approach.

The result was an explosion of unregulated marijuana outlets -- from four outlets four years ago to more than 600 shops today.

"The profit-making motive is huge," said Councilman Dennis Zine, who launched the regulation effort in response to complaints of crime and neighborhood blight.

"There's a legitimate use for [medical marijuana] and we want to help people who . . . need it for the right purpose," he said. "But you've got all these places making a ton of money, where any kind of excuse can get you a prescription. . . . That part of the abuse we need to address."

Still, even Zine, a retired cop, thinks the city attorney's proposal "is a little too Draconian in its interpretation. We might have to come up with some compromise," he said.

The city attorney's office contends that the state's medical marijuana initiative does not allow sale of the otherwise illegal drug, only the "cultivation and exchange" among members of patient and caregiver collectives.

Now, dispensary operators manage to comply by calling themselves collectives, having customers sign up to join when they make a buy, and labeling the money charged for the drug "donations."

Under the city's attorney's plan, that would not be good enough. Dispensaries would have 90 days to adopt more stringent standards, "cease operations," or be shut down.

The new standards would require collectives to set up their own marijuana growing operations -- with video monitors and security alarms -- located at least 1,000 yards from schools and parks, and hidden from "any public or other private property."

Now, dispensaries take in as much marijuana as they can sell, most from pot farms in Northern California. The new law would allow each collective to grow no more than 100 plants at a time, or keep more than five pounds of dried marijuana on hand.

And no more signing up on the spot. Patients would register in advance by name, address and phone number. No cash would change hands. The collective's records would specify "the exact nature of each member's participation" and could be reviewed by police at any time, "without need for a search warrant, subpoena or court order."

Are these patients or parolees we're talking about?

We have to face the reality that our broken medical marijuana delivery system needs fixing. It has grown so large, so fast, with so little regulation, that dispensaries have become a magnet for thieves and a cover for illicit drug dealing.

Even patients would welcome more scrutiny.

When a new dispensary opened recently near her home, Bowen -- the vice president of her neighborhood association -- paid a visit, with her prescription.

"I was shocked. The building was falling apart. There was a stained carpet, a ripped sofa, a thuggy-looking guy" with what looked like the bulge of a gun under his shirt, and a pushy, shady looking salesman, she said.

"There were just four jars of marijuana buds," Bowen told me. "That's not what a dispensary is supposed to be. . . . I felt like I'd walked into an episode of 'The Wire.'"

There must be a way to shut down that kind of place and still protect legitimate operations -- where the guy behind the counter can explain the difference between Captain Planet and Master Kush and knows which strain will quell the nausea of chemotherapy and which can ease the pain of arthritis.

This proposal seems not just strict, but mean.

Is it fair, or even reasonable, to require people suffering from cancer, anorexia, AIDS, spasticity, chronic pain-- conditions listed by name in the Compassionate Use Act -- to work the fields in exchange for medication?

It's simple, the lawyers told me: Cash transactions violate the state's medical marijuana law.

The proposed ordinance "may appear tough," conceded Deputy City Atty. Heather Aubry. "But everything that we've said is based on the law and the [court] cases. That's what we have to focus on, not whether or not we think it's fair, not whether we like it, not whether it's the most convenient method. . . .

"We don't feel that we are going against the intent of voters," she said.

I think she's selling the voters short. We know what compassion looks like, and this isn't it.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Court Strikes Down SB420 Limits Los Angeles, May 22, 2008: The Second District of California Court of Appeals ruled that the state limits on medical

Court Strikes Down SB420 Limits

Los Angeles, May 22, 2008: The Second District of California Court of Appeals ruled that the state limits on medical marijuana possession and cultivation established under state law SB 420 are unconstitutional.

In the case People v. Patrick Kelly, the court overturned defendant's conviction for possessing 12 ounces of dried marijuana plants on the grounds that the prosecutor had improperly argued that the defendant was guilty because he possessed more than the 8-ounce limit established in Health & Safety Code Sec. 11362.77 and did not have a doctor's recommendation authorizing more. (Text of Kelly decision).

The Court validated the long-standing view of California NORML and other Prop 215 advocates that the SB 420 limits are unconstitutional. Cal NORML attorneys have successfully argued the point in several lower court cases, but this is the first time it has been addressed by an appellate court.

In a 3-0 decision, the court ruled: "The prosecutor's argument was improper. It was improper because the CUA [Compassionate Use Act] can only be amended with voters' approval. Voters, however, did not approve the eight-ounce limit and other caps in section 11362.77 [of SB420]; hence, section 11362.77 unconstitutionally amends the CUA." The decision is certified for partial publication, pending possible appeal to the Supreme Court.

The full implications of the Kelly decision remain unclear. In particular, it is not clear whether it rules out the use of SB 420 numbers as guidelines to protect patients with state ID cards from arrest. The court's reasoning would seem to apply only when the SB 420 numbers are used to limit patients' rights, not when they are used to protect them. However, the court's sweeping pronouncement that this section of SB 420 is "unconstitutional" might be interpreted otherwise by police who would prefer to ignore it. Further litigation therefore seems likely.

Ironically, the court noted that the constitutional problems in SB 420 could have been avoided by enactment of Sen. Vasconcellos' proposed "SB 420 Clean-Up" bill SB 1494 in 2004. That bill made it clear that qualified patients could legally possess whatever amount of marijuana was consistent with their needs. However, SB 1494 was vetoed by Gov. Schwarzenegger on the grounds it removed "reasonable and established quantity guidelines."

One incidental casualty of the Kelly decision was Mendocino's Measure B anti-pot initiative, aimed at rolling back the county's limits for medical marijuana cultivation from 25 to 6 plants. Measure B specifically cites the clause in SB 420 that was struck down in the Kelly decision, H&SC 11362.77. Measure B therefore appears to rest on invalid law, making it vulnerable to legal and political challenge.

The Attorney General's office announced that it would appeal the Kelly ruling.

Text of the Kelly decision

UPDATE 8/14/08 - State top court to review medical pot limit

Monday, August 10, 2009

Undercover Operation Nets Medical Marijuana Patients

Undercover operation nets medical marijuana patients
One local veteran plans to fight the county’s murky medical marijuana laws

After a four-year stint in the U.S. Navy, Eugene Davidovich started to feel anxious, restless, and suffered migraine headaches.

In 2002, at the end of the third class petty officer’s service — which garnered him 10 medals — Davidovich’s doctor prescribed him various drugs and anti-depressants.

Though the drugs treated his initial symptoms, they caused him to experience worse side effects.

Finally, the hesitant patient accepted a prescription for medical marijuana.

Now, years later, after his arrest in a sting operation conducted by the San Diego Police Department, Davidovich is navigating a complicated maze of murky medical marijuana laws that have plagued the state and San Diego County for years.

“[State medical marijuana laws] are complex,” said Jim Lange, director of San Diego State University’s Drug and Alcohol program. “There certainly is vagueness to the law, probably because it is difficult to legislate medical decisions, and [state laws are] in conflict with federal law.”

Operation Endless Summer

On Nov. 13, 2008, Eugene Davidovich received a call from a man who identified himself as “Jamie Conlan.”

That’s when Davidovich’s ordeal began.

According to Davidovich, Conlan said he found Davidovich’s contact information on the Web site Cal NORML, a medical marijuana advocacy site. Conlan was looking to join a collective (also referred to as a collaborative) - a group of medical marijuana patients, who pool their resources to grow and distribute pot. After a well-publicized raid on San Diego medical marijuana dispensaries in 2006, patients had few places to safely obtain the drug.

Collectives offered an alternative.
Read the History of medical marijuana in the U.S.

Davidovich said he met Conlan that night, asked to see Conlan’s doctor’s recommendation, which would allow him to use medical marijuana. The police video even shows Davidovich calling Conlan to come out of the house to ensure it was the same person who joined the collective over the phone. According to court documents, Davidovich sold Conlan 6.92 grams of “high-grade” marijuana for $120.

Police video of Davidovich-coming soon or search google

More than two months later, in February, Davidovich was charged with four counts of possession, transportation and sale of marijuana — netted in the SDPD’s sting, dubbed Operation Endless Summer.

The operation began when a report by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service detailed drug sales in military housing, said deputy district attorney of the narcotics division Chris Lindberg.

The three-month long operation charged 37 of the 52 suspects it netted with criminal offenses, and rounded up nearly $19,000 in cash, guns, narcotics, methamphetamine and marijuana.

Later, a story in The San Diego Union-Tribune noted the operation had few ties to the military, despite the district attorney office’s claim that military connections played a major role in the sting. One cancer survivor also implicated in the sting, told the U-T she knows no one in the military.
Check out more medical marijuana videos at our Youtube page.

Conlan, an undercover agent who lied about symptoms and used a fake I.D. to obtain a doctor’s recommendation for medical marijuana, claimed in court documents the marijuana he bought was sold by Davidovich for-profit, not as a part of the collective.

Davidovich thought he was within the scope of the law, because he asked to see Conlan’s doctor’s recommendation before he sold him the pot. Advocates for medical marijuana are claiming entrapment, since the undercover agent lied to get the recommendation, but Lindberg said, “Legally, it doesn’t qualify for entrapment. Entrapment is an inducement that will get anyone to do the crime. The police officer was buying it for the going rate. Medical marijuana recommendations are very easy to obtain. There are certain doctors in town who basically if you walk through the door will give it to you for $150.”

The deputy district attorney said it was not illegal for the agent to falsely obtain the recommendation.

Activists have also decried the sting, saying it targeted patients.

“The scarce resources we have in this city would be much better spent on working with medical cannabis patients to establish a sanctioned source of medication rather than investigate, prosecute, and damage people’s lives,” Davidovich said.

Lindberg said patients were not targeted, and noted district attorney Bonnie Dumanis’ vocal support for safe access to medical marijuana for qualified patients. Lindberg said the people netted in Operation Endless Summer broke the law - plain and simple. Medical marijuana patients or their caregivers may jointly grow and cultivate cannabis - as they do in collectives - but all members must be involved throughout the process; the sale of marijuana after the fact is illegal, Lindberg said.

“They weren’t being prosecuted because they are medical marijuana patients - people are being prosecuted for engaging in illegal drug sales,” he said. “There is no provision in medical marijuana law to sell drugs for profit or otherwise. These people were selling drugs to an undercover officer who, basically, the sole contact they had with them was calling them up on the phone; the people would come over to his house, and exchange marijuana for cash.”
The terms collective, cooperative, and dispensary are thrown around and seen as interchangeable by the public at large and much of the medical marijuana community. They all provide a means for patients to safely acquire marijuana.

The attorney general’s 2008 medical marijuana guidelines define the differences.

Statutory cooperative: “Must file articles of incorporation with the state and conduct its business for the mutual benefit of its members… and act as nonprofit corporate entities.”

Collective: “Should be an organization [not an incorporated business] that merely facilitates the collaborative efforts of patient and caregiver members including the allocation of costs and revenues.”

Dispensary: A storefront business that sells marijuana to qualified patients. These are not recognized by the attorney general guidelines and are considered illegal by the District Attorney’s office.

Davidovich, however, says he did not sell the drug for profit.

“There was absolutely no profit built into the reimbursement,” said Davidovich, who says the cost of rent for the collective’s facility, the electricity bill and equipments, and the cost of nutrients, soil, water, packaging and delivery, not to mention his time, outweigh the dollar amount sales bring in. “In fact often it was way below cost and I had to subsidize the loss from my paycheck at my regular job to pay for rent of the facility, or the electric bill, as the reimbursement collected from the members was not enough to cover the costs. I did not see or collect any profit from any delivery to any of the collective members.”

Davidovich would not say what the collective’s monthly costs amount to, or the monthly dollar amount in reimbursement from sales. It will be detailed in a preliminary hearing on Monday, he said.

What if Davidovich’s claim is true; that he didn’t sell marijuana for profit? Lindberg said, in no uncertain terms, that’s unlikely: “Of course they are selling for profit. Why else are they engaging in the activity any way?”

‘I am not a dangerous drug dealer’
San Diego: Eugene Davidovich, a defendant in the Operation Endless Summer case.

Eugene Davidovich, a defendant in the Operation Endless Summer case.

Davidovich’s troubles didn’t end with Operation Endless Summer. Shortly after he was arrested, the El Cajon resident - who said medical marijuana allowed him to resume a normal life, and pursue his master’s degree in business administration - separated from his wife and son, and left his job as a software specialist so he could focus on winning his case.

Davidovich believes he was singled out for being a veteran, and that the arrest has cast a light on his struggle with anxiety, and tarnished his image among other members of the military.

He blames the county’s obscure medical marijuana laws for his legal woes - and his attorney, Michael McCabe, plans to argue Davidovich’s case.

McCabe, a medical marijuana activist best known for his victory in People v. Konow, said local authorities chose to “create” a crime. In the case that made him well known, the attorney defended Carolyn Konow, who was prosecuted for operating a dispensary, California Alternative Medicinal Center, which had been operating for two years.

The case against Konow, which was taken to the state Supreme Court, was dismissed by Judge William Mudd, because Proposition 215 - the state’s Compassionate Use Act of 1996 - was not clear, leaving patients vulnerable. Mudd also said Konow’s clinic followed all guidelines for a dispensary. McCabe sees parallels between Konow and Davidovich’s cases - but, he said, authorities went one step further in Davidovich’s case.

“What [authorities] did wrong in this particular case was singling out individuals who were medical marijuana advocates and targeting them for prosecution originally under the guise of an operation to clean up drug dealing to servicemen, which it wasn’t at all,” McCabe said. “They didn’t simply investigate; they created a crime where none really existed by going to the lengths of supplying false identification to the undercover agent and having him go to a medical marijuana physician, a physician who was known for his cooperation and his participation in the medical marijuana [community].”

Davidovich said he’s looking forward to his day in court - if not for his own benefit, for the safety of other medical marijuana patients.

“I am not a dangerous drug dealer, I did not possess any illegal drugs and I was operating the collective under what I truly believed was the guidance of California state law,” Davidovich said.

” … The reason I am speaking out is to make as many patients aware of the current state of fear in the city as possible, so that this does not happen to any other collective or coop that is abiding by state law, and so that this bias-driven selective prosecution can end.

“I love this country, respect our system of laws. I was not trying to do anything illegal here or profit from it, in any way.”

‘It’s not like San Diego County is starting from scratch’

There’s no indicator that Davidovich’s case will be the last. Not until the state’s laws and county’s enforcement on medical marijuana use become more clear, and until patients are educated about the do’s and don’ts.

Aged propositions - created and passed by voters - are vague, primarily because they set the spirit of the law, and the legislature is required to fill in specific guidelines.

In 2003, the state Senate approved SB 420, a bill which clarified parameters of medical marijuana use in the state. The bill requires counties to create local programs to issue medical identification cards and set safeguards for patients.

But, different local laws trump state law, and have led to a number of court cases with varied results. In 2008, the attorney general set boundaries for law enforcement, outlining when a patient should be arrested or have his or her marijuana confiscated.
San Diego: Medical marijuana crop. (Photo courtesy of Scott Beale / Laughing Squid of

Medical marijuana crop. (Photo courtesy of Scott Beale / Laughing Squid of

Procuring the drug is tricky. The U.S. attorney general’s guidelines allow collectives to cultivate marijuana for medical purposes, and allows for marijuana transactions among collective members - as long as no individual profits from the transaction. But, in the guidelines, the attorney general notes, “the earnings and savings of the business must be used for the general welfare of its members or equitably distributed to members in the form of cash, property, credits, or services.”

Deputy district attorney Lindberg said laws do not allow the sale of marijuana - period. Questions remain: When are patients considered “members” of a collective? Once a collective is established, are patients still able to join? What is the difference between buying marijuana once it’s grown and paying into a collective before it’s grown? Those questions remain unanswered by state law, advocates said, and it’s affecting patients who seek safe access to the drug.

Despite the fact state law is difficult to navigate, state assemblymember Lori Saldaña said it’s the local government’s responsibility to work with constituents. The county should look to others counties, which have clear medical marijuana laws, to help establish guidelines.

” … It’s not like [San Diego County is] starting from scratch,” Saldaña said. “It’s the only county that hasn’t developed any regulations. The concerns I’ve heard expressed, informally, are around properly regulating drugs.”

Saldaña also said state legislators will not interfere with the county’s guidelines, and she hopes local officials will implement them as soon as possible.

“[Legal costs and the] cost of delaying is substantial,” Saldaña said. “It’s up to the county to comply with the state law - state legislators will not interfere. But, they need to look at delivery for the chronically incapacitated and ask, ‘How do they get access to medical marijuana?’”

McCabe agrees with Saldaña, and said if patients can’t safely grow and purchase medical marijuana, they will have to seek alternative outlets - namely, the black market, which, the attorney said, increases the risk of violence and prosecution. Until the government steps in advocates need to do a better job of educating the public McCabe said.

“The movement has to attract the public support and to educate the public just what it’s about. The current system fosters crime by making qualified patients and caregivers go to illicit sources rather than promoting law-abidingness,” McCabe said.

Moving forward at a local level
San Diego: Mendicino County medical cannabis card (Flickr photo courtesy of Nirmal Thacker)

Mendocino County medical cannabis card (Flickr photo courtesy of Nirmal Thacker)

San Diego County, along with San Bernardino County, has fought state law regarding medical marijuana. San Diego patients still don’t have medical ID cards, due to a lawsuit launched by the County Board of Supervisors in 2006.

The board claimed federal law, which prohibits the use of marijuana, supersedes state law. Determined to take the case to federal court, the county spent $5,000 on the case, which was rejected by the Supreme Court for a hearing on May 18. That was the most recent defeat; the San Diego Superior Court rejected the case in 2006, and the state Supreme Court declined to review it in October 2008.

Board chair Dianne Jacob said in a January statement, despite the appearance that the board is anti-medical marijuana, the board’s attempt simply aimed to reconcile state and federal law. The board voted 4-1 in closed session to pursue the case at the federal level.

“It doesn’t matter what side of the debate you’re on - and I’ve heard compelling arguments from both sides - the prudent step is to resolve the existing conflict between state and federal law,”
San Diego: med-mj-sample

(Photo courtesy of Chron.Ron)

Jacobs said in January. “The feds view medical marijuana as illegal. Agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration have raided homes and dispensaries in the last year. Were we to proceed with implementing the state’s plan, we would be facilitating the arrest of our own residents. We need to end the confusion with a definitive ruling that protects all parties.”

Some confusion was laid to rest when attorney general Eric Holder announced the federal government will allow state laws to take precedence in terms of medical marijuana laws. McCabe is hopeful that the federal government’s statements will change the local climate.

“The Obama Administration can’t limit the law under the books but can direct the state attorneys what conduct they are to prosecute and what conduct they are not to prosecute,” McCabe said.

Also at a local level, two city councilmembers - Donna Frye and Todd Gloria - are hoping to help clarify laws.

Mark Sauer of Frye’s office and Travis Knowles of Gloria’s office are collaborating to clarify San Diego’s guidelines for distributing medical marijuana to qualified patients. The councilmembers hope to re-establish a task force to help cooperatives and collectives understand Proposition 215’s guidelines.

“[Frye] and I have heard from several constituents who have run afoul of the law for possessing/distributing marijuana even though they had legitimate doctor’s letters and appeared to be acting in good faith,” Sauer said. “We believe patients, and those running cooperatives allowed to distribute medical marijuana under Proposition 215 and the state attorney general’s August 2008 guidelines should be able to know what is legally required of them.”

What’s next?

The county board of supervisors will discuss how to issue medical ID cards on June 16, and implement the program July 1.

As for Davidovich, he hopes his case closes during the preliminary hearing on Monday. Some say, though, Davidovich’s attorney McCabe may find himself taking this case to the Supreme Court. But, McCabe is “cautiously optimistic” about the defendant’s chance at winning at the local level.

“I’m hopeful the climate will change and the will of people will be respected,” McCabe said. “That is, after all, what our government is supposed to be all about.”

Editor’s note: Chair of the County Board of Supervisors Dianne Jacob opted to re-release a statement rather than participate in an interview. An interview request was also made for San Diego Police Chief William Lansdowne; however, his office thought the interview with deputy district attorney Chris Lindberg would be sufficient. Peter Hughes of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and the Medical Marijuana Evaluation Center have not yet responded to requests for interviews.

Read more:

Sunday, August 9, 2009

selling out the medical marijuana movement

Justin Hartfield, who owns, "Z" inputed for boycott...a "medical" marijuana dispensary listing and referral website that pulls down $250,000 per year, told the Associated Press and the Wall Street Journal this week that medical marijuana is "a joke" and he lied to his doctor to get his recommendation.

Five days after the first article on the 18th, Micky Martin announced a boycott of the site and its advertisers, characterizing it as a "wolf in sheep's clothing". He wrote, "As a community, we must put an end to this sensationalist and ill-conceived notion that patients are scamming the system like Mr. Hartfield."

Justin Hartfield responded to Mr. Martin's call for a boycott by stating he never said "there is no real medical value to cannabis" but instead said "the medical system is a total farce" because "it just needs to be legal". He admits to "exaggerating" his medical problems to his doctor and to owing him an apology for his "candor" to the press but he believes every adult "should have immediate access to cannabis for medical problems that might arise when they could not get to a doctor to get a card."

Coincidentally, the week before Mr. Hartfield's startling revelations to the press, Richard Cowan and Kaya Compassion announced it had become a founding member of the Dispensary Defense Group, of which is also founder.

Snatching Defeat From The Jaws Of Victory

On Tuesday the city of Oakland passed by 80% Measure F, a precedent setting tax on medical marijuana, ostensibly for the good of the movement, though no one has been able to explain exactly how this is supposed to benefit patients, or how taxing medicine legitimizes dispensaries, patients, the movement, or anything else.

Speaking of NORML, they think this is just ducky. Allen St. Pierre, current director of NORML, had this to say, “The passage of this first-in-the-nation tax further legitimizes cannabis-based enterprises in Oakland and elsewhere. These outlets are contributing to the health and welfare of their local communities, both socially and now economically. At a time when many municipalities are strapped for tax revenues and cutting public services it is likely that public officials in other cities will begin considering similar proposals.”

Joseph R. Pietri, long a cannabis advocate and critic of NORML, commented on Facebook that the four Oakland marijuana dispensaries responsible could just as easily have put legalization for all on the ballot and it would have passed by 90%. "Instead they tax patients, give the money to the City, and politically empower the clinics who are like the Dutch and prefer the status quo." He points out that patients are now being taxed twice, once by the state and once by the city. He believes that NORML's support for Oakland's tax on medical marijuana proves that NORML has been working against the legalization of marijuana all along.

Richard Steeb is also not so enthusiastic. On the Los Angeles Times poll regarding a proposed city tax in Los Angeles on medical marijuana he wrote (emphasis his), "MEDICINE should NEVER be taxed; that constitutes gouging the ill." He went on to say, "LEGALIZE it, and THEN tax its sale wherever whiskey and cigars are available. And give physician-certificated patients a TAX EXEMPTION. Ethics is ethics."

"That cost goes to the patient. The patient is already on social security, they're on disability," said Lanette Davies with the Canna Care Clinic in North Sacramento, regarding the announcement that Oakland's great victory had inspired Sacramento to consider charging the sick and dying tax on the money they pay for medicine.

This is as good a place as any to note that Tom Ammiano's state tax as described in AB 390 (which legalizes marijuana in California) specifically exempts medical marijuana from his $50/ounce surcharge. A distinction that virtually none of the media have made or seem to think is important.

Americans for Safe Access (ASA) states on their website that they have opposed taxing medical marijuana "from the beginning". They state their two main reasons for this are: 1) it is regressive and has the potential to significantly increase cost, and 2) the requirement to provide receipts would violate the constitutional right against self incrimination.

When the issue of paying state sales tax came before the state Board of Equalization (BOE) in 2005 ASA argued that in addition to the constitutional issues, medicine should not be taxed; that marijuana is medicine and dispensaries are health care facilities and therefore, "Medical Marijuana Sales By Dispensaries Are Exempt from Taxation Under Revenue and Taxation Code § 6369(a)(3)."

BOE Issue Paper 05-009 determined that medical marijuana and dispensaries do not meet the legal definition of medicine and health care facilities and therefore are subject to state sales tax. This is primarily because it is classified Schedule I by the federal government. The first provision in Barney Frank's HB 2835, The Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act, is to reclassify cannabis to Schedule II. This would enable doctors to prescribe it, rather than "recommend" it, thereby legally defining cannabis as medicine.

During a recent discussion in ASA's forum they pointed out that while prescription medications are not taxed in California, over the counter medications are.

Angela McDonald doesn't see the Oakland tax as any victory either. In her article Oregon takes honest approach to marijuana tax of 23 Jul 09, she refers to Oakland's tax as "tax trickery" and points out that Oregon's Cannabis Tax Act, which would legalize and tax marijuana for adults, exempts medical patients from the tax. As does Californian's AB 390.

The Tip Of The Iceberg

Laura Thomas, deputy state director for the Drug Policy Alliance, said, "... we hope the rest of the state will follow their lead. The politicians need to listen to the wisdom of the voters. Taxing medical marijuana is a no brainer and fiscally makes sense for a cash-strapped state like California. But this is the tip of the iceberg," added Thomas. "Once Californians see the benefits of taxing and regulating medical marijuana in Oakland, the next logical step is to tax and regulate all marijuana revenue across the state."

Richard Lee, of Oaksterdamn U, one of the 4 dispensaries that organized to tax the sales of medicine to the sick and dying in Oakland, told the New York Times today that he will be introducing a bill to tax and legalize marijuana "this week" - Monday, July 27th. In it's current version (Draft 14) it will "Ensure that if a city decides not to tax and regulate the sale of cannabis, that buying and selling cannabis within that city’s limits remain illegal." Nowhere in this draft is there any mention of any exemption for medical patients.

In the margins the draft says "Draft, not for circulation or attribution." Why not? Given that Tom Ammiano has already introduced a bill that would legalize and tax marijuana at the state level, and this bill exempts medical patients from the tax and does not prohibit the non-taxed sale, one must assume Mr. Lee has promoted and introduced his bill with the express purpose of screwing over medical patients.

One thing is clear, the sick and dying can't do enough for recreational users. As a patient myself, I feel like I've just been mugged.

For more info:
I'm totally not understanding this California Sales Tax - Americans for Safe Access forum
The Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act - The Library of Congress
Marijuana Legalization: Help for California Budget Woes? - Time | 24 Jul 09
Sacramento to Consider Pot Tax - News 10 | 23 Jul 09
Boycott and their advertisers - TComp Consulting | 23 Jul 09
With 'Med Pot' Raids Halted, Selling Grass Grows Greener - The Wall Street Journal | 23 Jul 09
Oakland Voters Approve Nation's First Marijuana Business Tax - NORML Blog | 22 Jul 09
Tax Prozac, not medical marijuana - | 20 Jul 09
California sprouts 'green rush" from marijuana - The Associated Press | 18 Jul 09
Kaya Compassion Medical Marijauan Dispensary's new Pricing Policy - PRWeb | 11 Jul 09
Medical marijuana and artists grants - | 8 Jul 09
Sales Tax - California Campaign for Safe Access
The Hemp and Cannabis Foundation


Fair-use cases are often a blogger’s dream, what with their angry celebrities, well-known (or at least visible) works of art, and strident accusations of theft.

But as much fun as J.D. Salinger, Woody Allen and J.K. Rowling have provided us over the months on the fair-use front, the following just might take the cake as Best Fair-Use Smackdown Ever. Click here for the WaPo blog post.

It hasn’t yet boiled into a lawsuit yet, but it’s got serious potential. At issue: a poster created by folks at the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (aka NORML), which uses a photo of Barack Obama as an undergraduate at Occidental College, circa 1980.

obamaThe picture shows Obama puffing on a cigarette (of the tobacco type). People at NORML took the image, dressed it up a little to make it look like Obama’s puffing on some serious Early Pearly Maui (or something), and stuck it on their Summer of Love-inspired promotional poster for their annual conference. The message on the poster: “Yes We Cannabis.”

But it’s not Obama who’s taken his anger over the poster public, rather Lisa Jack, an Obama classmate back at Oxy, who took the picture. She reportedly had no idea the photo had been used until the Post told her on Tuesday.

“They do not have my permission,” said Jack, now a psychology professor in Minnesota, to the Post. These photos “are absolutely not to be used in this way. … I really made a grand effort to do this properly, and I’m very irritated.”

NORML Executive Director Allen St. Pierre didn’t seem to troubled. “With very little adulteration, she placed what appears to be a cannabis cigarette” in the president’s hand, St. Pierre said to the Post. But she made few other changes: Obama “almost made the photograph for us.” St. Pierre admits they didn’t get permission, but “our lawyers thought it was adulterated enough to comply with the fair use laws.”

But is it “adulterated enough to comply with the fair use laws?” The standard, a copyright lawyer tells us, is whether there was a “transformative use.” And that doesn’t necessarily mean the image has to be transformed — an image can remain exactly the same and satisfy fair use if the picture is framed in a way that sends a message. In other words, its “use” is transformed. “For example, a Nancy Reagan picture on the poster would send a parodic message,” he says. “This one is a closer call.”

Friday, July 31, 2009

The Moscow Times » Issue 2937 » News here. --> Yukos Gets Green Light to Sell Cannabis Vodka 09 June 2004By Alex Nicholson / The Moscow TimesYukos has

The Moscow Times » Issue 2937 » News
here. -->
Yukos Gets Green Light to Sell Cannabis Vodka
09 June 2004By Alex Nicholson / The Moscow TimesYukos has won a court victory: It can legally sell Cannabis Vodka.

Suddenly Righteous Dudes

Suddenly Righteous Dudes
Posted by CN Staff on July 27, 2009 at 04:28:43 PT
By Karl Vick, Washington Post Staff Writer
Source: Washington Post

cannabis Fort Bragg, Calif. -- The steel-haired old hippies who grow the finest marijuana in the world began taking over Mendocino County four decades ago.

"Going back to the '60s, early '70s in Mendocino County, land was cheap," said Tony Craver, twice elected sheriff, now retired. "Thirty-five hundred square miles, only three population centers, very little law enforcement. . . . The hippies, if you will, moved in and started growing pot. The hippies became the establishment."

Democratic government serves at the consent of the governed; in this jurisdiction, enforcement of marijuana laws would be lax at best. A "grow" became an accepted component of the homesteads established by the back-to-the-land transplants who made their way across the Golden Gate Bridge, past the vineyards of Sonoma and into the woods. At Area 101, a club named for the highway lined with billboards for hydroponics and fertilizer, December brings the Emerald Cup, a public competition for the "best bud" in the county, if not the world.

"It's so a part of Mendocino County," said K.C. Meadows, managing editor of the Ukiah Daily Journal. "There are fairly large businesses in this town that got their start with marijuana money. And that's okay with people."

How, then, to explain what happened to arrests here last year? Pot busts up 60 percent.

And what could account for the vote to roll back the nation's first law ordering police to make enforcement of marijuana laws their very lowest priority?

A paradox indeed: The clampdown was set in motion by the entire state of California barreling down the path Mendocino blazed. In a Rube Goldberg sequence of cause and effect, growing acceptance of marijuana elsewhere in the Golden State unleashed a confluence of demand, tolerance and legal ambiguity rooted in political cowardice.

The result set in motion forces that seriously harshed the mellow here and brought the "war on drugs" to the one place in America it had never really reached.

Pebbles Trippet arrived in Mendocino in 1970, escaping the drug laws of New York state. "California beckoned," said Trippet, an activist, columnist and grower who has been heard to ask, "Can I pay you in bud?"

The year she arrived, Congress passed the Controlled Substance Act, which ranked all drugs by capacity for harm. Marijuana landed alongside PCP and heroin on "Schedule 1," a ranking even the establishment found reason to revisit just two years later. A commission appointed by President Richard Nixon recommended lightening up.

"Damn near puked," Nixon said of this on the White House tapes, where he was heard ordering up a pot law "that just tears the [posterior] out of them." Meaning the longhaired, antiwar, free-love counterculture that was as much the object of the original war on drugs as any substance was.

But in the years ahead more and more Americans sampled marijuana, and the republic remained standing. Then doctors defied the premise of the Schedule 1 holding of "no medicinal value" by reporting that marijuana alleviated conditions from glaucoma to asthma.

Today, Trippet, 66, is president of the Mendocino Medical Marijuana Patients Union, a title that tidily sums up the current state of play on the issue: In 1996 California's voters passed Proposition 215, legalizing pot for medical use.

Lawmakers in Sacramento took a few years to gauge the politics of the required implementing legislation. When they finally did, it was a wink: They decreed in 2003 that marijuana could be used to treat "any . . . illness."

And if that wasn't clear enough, the bill was numbered SB420 -- 420 being a code phrase in the pot subculture. 420 Magazine competes with High Times.

In May, the U.S. Supreme Court endorsed the new reality: Anyone with a doctor's card can smoke dope. What remains woefully unclear is where they are supposed to find it. Mendocino was an obvious place to look.

In 2001, two years before the wink from Sacramento, Mendocino residents approved Measure G, permitting the holder of a medical card to grow 25 plants.

It was a strong signal to city dwellers hard-pressed for the space to grow their own. Indeed, the county's growers were superbly positioned. Aside from the let-it-grow culture, the high-end strains originally cultivated in Mendocino became the preferred stock for the storefront "dispensaries" that began opening elsewhere in the state.

"Things just took off," Trippet said. "Just about everyone felt they could grow. By then it was half the county. Now it's probably two-thirds."

The money was easy. At the service window of a dispensary, patients page through binders of bagged snippets of Purple Kush and Train Reck. The tag says $50 for an eighth of an ounce. Growers could expect $4,000 for a pound, and get four harvests a year, growing indoors.

"What a difference a couple of years make!" proclaimed the emcee at the Emerald Cup. "We all have medical permits. Everyone grows in the full sun. Marijuana is blooming right into mainstream America. The judging gets harder every year. And it's only going to get better!"

But it didn't.

As growers lost sight of limits, things somehow got worse. The money changed people.

Now some growers planted in town, considered declasse because flowering buds put up a powerful stink. In Ukiah, the county seat, a man was shot after climbing into a fenced pot patch. Another suffered a heart attack halfway over.

"It's a huge problem in our schools," said Meredith Lintott, the district attorney. "Children come in reeking of marijuana."

Worse, outsiders poured in, some armed. In September, three carloads of men aged 18 to 24 arrived from Sacramento carrying guns, radios and pruning shears. They had read about Mendocino in High Times. Home invasions rose to 40 from 24 the previous year.

None of this was the Mendocino way. Mexican cartels grow pot in Northern California, but off in the national forests in huge grows that produce inferior herb. Locals brought a specific sensibility to their work, one in the spirit of the "New Settlers" who produced the nation's first organic commercial wine, at Frey Vineyards, and the first organic microbrew, at Ukiah Brewing Co.

The outsiders, "these are people who had no pride of ownership," said Tom Allman, who was elected sheriff amid the tumult. "They don't care what they do to our land. A guy with a Caterpillar took off tops of two hills. . . . This is where government has to step in and do compliance checks."

"I think after 2007, people started to look around and say, you know what? This isn't great the way it is going down," said Scott Zeramby, who runs a small garden supply store in Fort Bragg. "We've all seen it go from back-to-the-landers, where people wanted to get away from it all, to people who came here to get it all. Property values got so high, the only way you could afford it was to break the law."

And so, in November, a measure passed to scale back Mendocino's legal limit to the state's suggested six-plant minimum. The sheriff sensed a mandate. Tips rolled in, and deputies saddled up.

On Feb. 20, they busted the younger sister of a student shot dead at Kent State in 1970. Allison Krause was the young woman who said of the flowers in the barrels of the National Guardsmen who would shoot her and four others: "Flowers are better than bullets."

"I thought this was a community that was forward-thinking, progressive -- that thought marijuana was a good thing!" said Laurel Krause, who was accused of having too many plants.

Her doctor's card recommended pot to alleviate post-traumatic stress disorder occasioned by Allison's death.

The social dynamics of small towns played a role in the backlash. Krause, who arrived from Silicon Valley, counts as an outsider. Her 24 plants grew under lights in a shipping container -- outsized PG&E bills are a reliable tip-off to cultivation -- but it vented onto the land of a neighbor, who called the sheriff.

"They'd be growing 75 plants in their back yard," Craver said. "It'd be stinking -- and it does in the summer, while your neighbor's trying to have a barbecue."

But there are greater forces at work as well. When state lawmakers legalized medical marijuana, they left the supply chain in the shadows. Drug dealers got to call themselves dispensary operators. But what were growers?


"When you come out, you have confused notions about what's possible," said Trippet, who grew 100 plants on her property a couple of years ago, but is down to 60 out of prudence. "You're not used to working at this end of the envelope. Many didn't know about the limits."

Jerry Brown, known as Gov. Moonbeam in the '80s, is California's attorney general. His office last year took a stab at the open question of supply, publishing guidelines for enforcement of SB420. The guidelines hewed to the notion that suppliers of medical marijuana are "caregivers" and allowed "patients" to organize themselves as collectives.

"The AG's new guidelines basically require the industry be vertically integrated. And to do that, you've got to get big. And that comes with risks," said a Fort Bragg resident, hollow-eyed from lack of sleep after her arrest. She was swept up with her boyfriend's huge grow, taken down even though it was supplying dispensaries.

"I wouldn't have gotten involved if I didn't think it was legal," she said.

A San Francisco Assembly member, Tom Ammiano, has introduced a bill taking what he calls the logical next step: legalizing marijuana, regulating it and taxing it. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger urged a serious debate, now unfolding in the state's media.

"If everybody doesn't do it together -- state, federal, county -- it doesn't work," said Zeramby, the garden shop owner. "The communities with the most liberal standards are going to be inundated with the most opportunistic people."

Legalization might well serve the consumer. "There is no way it costs $3,000 to $4,000 a pound to cultivate marijuana," said Keith Faulder, a former prosecutor who now defends pot cases in Ukiah. "These are the costs of keeping it underground."

Growers, however, may well prefer the status quo, even with the risks. That would put them in a rare alliance with the police and prosecutors who back in 1996 campaigned against Proposition 215, warning against precisely what has come to pass.

"It's going, definitely, in a direction that I don't believe in," said Ron Brooks, president of the National Narcotics Officers' Associations' Coalition. His last, best case against: "Even if it's no worse than alcohol, we all know of people who lost their livelihood and their lives. Why would we admit legal respectability to another powerful drug?"

In Mendocino, though, the quest is only for the clarity ducked by lawmakers, and emerging from courts at a pace that does little to help Sheriff Allman. Constituents pepper him with questions.

Down at the courthouse, the district attorney sighs.

"It's extremely confusing, even for those who work in it every single day," Lintott said. "Clearly when the law was passed the cover was cancer, glaucoma -- real distinct health issues. We're not there anymore."

She sagged a bit behind her desk.

"Quite frankly, I might benefit from a card. This is a high-stress job. It would probably do me good to go home and smoke some pot in the evening."

Source: Washington Post (DC)
Author: Karl Vick, Washington Post Staff Writer
Published: Monday, July 27, 2009
Copyright: 2009 Washington Post

CannabisNews -- Cannabis Archives

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Judge Sonia Sotomayor

Dear MoveOn member,

Today, President Obama nominated Judge Sonia Sotomayor to be the next U.S. Supreme Court justice. Of course, the Right is already fighting against her confirmation—so we need to get the facts out about her impressive qualifications and background.

Below is a list of 10 key things about Sonia Sotomayor that you might not know. Can you check it out and send it to 10 friends today? If each of us forwards the list, we can start to get the word out about Judge Sotomayor, and help to ensure that she gets a speedy and fair confirmation process.

Ten Things To Know About Judge Sonia Sotomayor

1. Judge Sotomayor would bring more federal judicial experience to the bench than any Supreme Court justice in 100 years. Over her three-decade career, she has served in a wide variety of legal roles, including as a prosecutor, litigator, and judge.

2. Judge Sotomayor is a trailblazer. She was the first Latina to serve on the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and was the youngest member of the court when appointed to the District Court for the Southern District of New York. If confirmed, she will be the first Hispanic to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court.

3. While on the bench, Judge Sotomayor has consistently protected the rights of working Americans, ruling in favor of health benefits and fair wages for workers in several cases.

4. Judge Sotomayor has shown strong support for First Amendment rights, including in cases of religious expression and the rights to assembly and free speech.

5. Judge Sotomayor has a strong record on civil rights cases, ruling for plaintiffs who had been discriminated against based on disability, sex and race.

6. Judge Sotomayor embodies the American dream. Born to Puerto Rican parents, she grew up in a South Bronx housing project and was raised from age nine by a single mother, excelling in school and working her way to graduate summa cum laude from Princeton University and to become an editor of the Law Journal at Yale Law School.

7. In 1995, Judge Sotomayor "saved baseball" when she stopped the owners from illegally changing their bargaining agreement with the players, thereby ending the longest professional sports walk-out in history.

8. Judge Sotomayor ruled in favor of the environment in a case of protecting aquatic life in the vicinity of power plants in 2007, a decision that was overturned by the Roberts Supreme Court.

9. In 1992, Judge Sotomayor was confirmed by the Senate without opposition after being appointed to the bench by George H.W. Bush.

10. Judge Sotomayor is a widely respected legal figure, having been described as " outstanding colleague with a keen legal mind," "highly qualified for any position in which wisdom, intelligence, collegiality and good character would be assets," and "a role model of aspiration, discipline, commitment, intellectual prowess and integrity."

Judge Sotomayor is an historic, uniquely qualified nominee to the Supreme Court. Let's get the word out and make sure we get a prompt, fair confirmation on her nomination.

Thanks for all you do,

–Nita, Kat, Daniel, Ilyse and the rest of the team

Sources for each of the 10 things:

1. White House Statement, May 26, 2009.

2. White House Statement, May 26, 2009.

3. Cases: Archie v. Grand Cent. Partnership, 997 F. Supp. 504 (S.D.N.Y. 1998) and Marcella v. Capital Dist. Physicians' Health Plan, Inc., 293 F.3d 42 (2d Cir. 2002).

4. Cases: Flamer v. White Plains, 841 F. Supp. 1365 (S.D.N.Y. 1993), Ford v. McGinnis, 352 F.3d 382 (2d Cir. 2003), and Campos v. Coughlin, 854 F. Supp. 194 (S.D.N.Y. 1994).

5a. "Sotomayor's Notable Court Opinions and Articles," The New York Times, May 26, 2009.

5b. Cases: Bartlett v. N.Y. State Board, 970 F. Supp. 1094 (S.D.N.Y. 1997), Greenbaum v. Svenska Hendelsbanken, 67 F.Supp.2d 228 (S.D.N.Y. 1999), Raniola v. Bratton, 243 F.3d 610 (2d Cir. 2001), and Gant v. Wallingford Board of Education, 195 F.3d 134 (2d Cir. 1999).

6. "Sonia Sotomayor: 10 Things You Should Know," The Huffington Post, May 26, 2009.

7. "How Sotomayor 'Saved' Baseball," Time, May 26, 2009.

8. "Sotomayor's resume, record on notable cases," CNN, May 26, 2009.

9. "Sotomayor's resume, record on notable cases," CNN, May 26, 2009.

10a. Judge Richard C. Wesley, a George W. Bush appointee to the Second Circuit.

10b. "Sotomayor is Highly Qualified," The Wall Street Journal, May 9, 2009.

10c. Honorary Degree Citation, Pace University School of Law, 2003 Commencement.

Want to support our work? We're entirely funded by our 5 million members—no corporate contributions, no big checks from CEOs. And our tiny staff ensures that small contributions go a long way. Chip in here.
PAID FOR BY MOVEON.ORG POLITICAL ACTION, Not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Speaking at a press conference with DEA administrator Michelle Leonhart, Attorney General Eric Holder declared that ending medical marijuana raids

Speaking at a press conference with DEA
administrator Michelle Leonhart, Attorney General
Eric Holder declared that ending medical
marijuana raids "is now American policy."
A reporter asked, "shortly after the
inauguration there were raids on California
medical marijuana you expect
these to continue?", noting that the President
had promised to end the raids in the campaign.
Holder responded, "What the President said
during the consistent with what we
will be doing here in law enforcement. He was my
boss in the campaign....He is my boss now. What
he said in the campaign is now American policy."
The question appears about 25 minutes into the
press conference, which was devoted to an
operation against the Mexican Sinaloa drug cartel.

DMV Sued By Patient for Medical Marijuana

Have you had any issues with DMV????

Contact an attorney, tell us and we can help find the contacts...ASA, OMAR, JOE and others will help!!

Newshawk: The Source for Medicinal Marijuana News
Pubdate: Mon, 16 Feb 2009
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 2009 Los Angeles Times
Author: Maura Dolan, Reporting from San Francisco
Note: Times researcher Robin Mayper contributed to this report.
Cited: Americans for Safe Access
Bookmark: (Marijuana - Medicinal)


The Lawsuit Says Patients Are Unfairly Targeted for License Suspensions.

When Matt Vaughn was pulled over for speeding on Interstate 5 in Northern California early on a Sunday morning, he had a bag of marijuana on the passenger seat.

The California Highway Patrol officer smelled the weed, searched the car, took the marijuana and pipe and gave Vaughn a sobriety test, which he passed. An angry Vaughn showed the officer his doctor's recommendation to use marijuana for glaucoma. The officer was unimpressed.

"He said, in Glenn County, they don't recognize those kinds of things," said Vaughn, 55, who has a long ponytail, mustache and beard. "He was not very friendly about it."

The 2005 incident cost Vaughn a speeding ticket, his 1 1/4 ounce of pot and his driver's license -- and nine months of fighting the California Department of Motor Vehicles -- before he prevailed.

As a result of that and other encounters involving medical marijuana, an advocacy group has sued the DMV, asking for a written policy that says medical marijuana should be treated the same as prescription drugs.

The suit contends that the DMV has a pattern of investigating and suspending the driver's licenses of people who use pot on the recommendation of their doctors.

"It happens a disturbing amount," said Joseph D. Elford, chief counsel for Americans for Safe Access, which promotes legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes and research.

Elford said his Oakland-based group has received complaints about the DMV from patients in several Northern and Central California counties, though Elford and others involved in the issue said they were unaware of any Southern California cases.

The DMV can obtain medical information about someone if an investigation is launched into the person's fitness to drive.

In Vaughn's case, the CHP officer sent the DMV a report about Vaughn, along with a medical journal article saying marijuana was not the choice drug for treating glaucoma.

In another case, Rose Johnson, 53, the plaintiff named in the pending suit, used medical marijuana for back and neck injuries and lost her license after a DMV worker referred her for an investigation.

The worker had noted that Johnson had difficulty moving when she went in to renew her driver's license. Despite her perfect driving record, the DMV cited the Merced woman's marijuana use last year in revoking her license, the suit said.

Elford said the DMV also learns of medical marijuana patients from law enforcement officers who ask drivers if they have used drugs in the 24 hours before a traffic stop.

Medical marijuana users usually answer truthfully, thinking they are protected by law, Elford said. He added that he does not advise them to lie because defrauding a police officer is a misdemeanor in California.

State officials said in interviews that it is not their policy to take away licenses from marijuana patients.

DMV spokesman Armando Botello declined to comment on the lawsuit and said the office does not keep statistics on the number of licenses yanked as a result of medical marijuana. But he indicated the instances were probably isolated.

Although medicinal weed is not automatic grounds for revoking a license, conditions that impair safe driving, including "poor judgment, aggressive behavior, impaired decision making, slowed motor functions, impaired coordination . . . and drowsiness" could result in license removal, he said.

During a DMV investigation, the driver's doctor is asked to fill out a five-page questionnaire about the patient's medical condition and drug use.

Jaime Coffee, a spokeswoman for the CHP, said its policy is to comply with the state medical marijuana law, a policy that Americans for Safe Access won in an earlier suit. Officers are instructed not to confiscate marijuana from an unimpaired driver with a valid doctor's recommendation, Coffee said. She speculated that Vaughn's marijuana might have been confiscated because he did not have his license with him.

Vaughn, who operates a medical marijuana collective out of his home, said he had left the license in another pair of pants, had not smoked in several hours and was admittedly grouchy.

"I actually am very aggressive when I am not smoking," he said.

In fact, he was just about to pull off the freeway to smoke and rest on his long drive from Placerville to Vancouver, Wash., to visit family, he said.

Vaughn said he did not yell at the officer, "but I am able to push their buttons." The officer called for backup, and two other CHP cars arrived. After he was cited, Vaughn went home for more marijuana for his journey.

Vaughn does not work outside the marijuana collective.

"Essentially what I make is what I smoke, which is quite a bit," he said. "Generally my wife is the regular person with jobs and insurance."

Not even marijuana advocates recommend driving under pot's influence. California has convicted drivers of being under the influence of marijuana when they failed field sobriety tests, Elford said.

Studies on the effects of marijuana on driving have reached varying conclusions. Some found that experienced users are likely to compensate for their deteriorated state by being especially cautious -- but are prone to getting lost -- while others showed significant debilitating effects from THC, the main mind-altering ingredient in marijuana.

Vaughn said he drives well when he smokes but conceded that cannabis affects people differently.

After nine months of appealing the suspension of his license, Vaughn contacted Elford, who filed suit. Before trial, the DMV agreed to return his license and his marijuana and pipe. Vaughn said his DMV record had incorrectly shown a conviction for driving under the influence.

"How it got there was never discerned," he said.

Tom Ammiano Looking to Legalize and TAX CANNABIS

Tom Ammiano: Legalize Marijuana, Regulate It and Tax It
by: Robert in Monterey
Mon Feb 23, 2009 at 12:00:22 PM PST

A frequent topic of online discussion on the budget crisis in recent weeks has been a call to legalize and tax marijuana in order to help close the budget deficit. This would have two beneficial effects - reducing the prison population and increasing the revenue stream for state government. It was even the most popular question at back in December.

Today Assemblymember Tom Ammiano announced he supports this basic concept, and to that end is introducing AB 390 - a bill number you'll be hearing a lot about in coming months. From a press release sent via email:

Today Assemblymember Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) announced the introduction of groundbreaking legislation that would tax and regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol. The Marijuana Control, Regulation, and Education act (AB 390) would create a regulatory structure similar to that used for beer, wine and liquor, permitting taxed sales to adults while barring sales to or possession by those under 21.

"With the state in the midst of an historic economic crisis, the move towards regulating and taxing marijuana is simply common sense. This legislation would generate much needed revenue for the state, restrict access to only those over 21, end the environmental damage to our public lands from illicit crops, and improve public safety by redirecting law enforcement efforts to more serious crimes", said Ammiano. "California has the opportunity to be the first state in the nation to enact a smart, responsible public policy for the control and regulation of marijuana."

Ammiano estimates this will bring in $1 billion in annual revenue. That could double when considering the impact of savings on prison spending.

This is clearly an idea whose time has come. I do not know of any recent polling on the topic, but I have to believe that support for regulating marijuana like alcohol has risen in recent years. 2009 offers an interesting moment, where long-time legalization advocates can now ally with Californians who want to solve the budget crisis and can no longer afford to ignore the high costs of a failed marijuana policy.

Ammiano is also following in the footsteps of other San Francisco legislators. In 1975 then-State Senator George Moscone got a bill passed and signed by Governor Jerry Brown to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana. Ammiano's proposed legislation is of a much larger scale, but it makes sense to treat marijuana, a drug that is already widely available in California, the same way we treat alcohol.

It's good to see someone in Sacramento stand up and point out that there's no reason we should maintain a policy that has failed so totally and completely, and at such an enormous cost, as marijuana prohibition.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Medical Marijuana Identification Card Program Opens in San Joaquin County

Medical Marijuana Identification Card Program Opens in San Joaquin County * Dr.Note is BEST

Passed in 1996, Proposition 215 (the “Compassionate Use Act”) made the medical use of marijuana legal in California. In 2003, Senate Bill 420 was passed as a clarification of Proposition 215 and required the establishment of a statewide medical marijuana identification card and registry program under California Health and Safety Code and California Code of Regulations.

On November 4, 2008, the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors approved implementation of the Medical Marijuana Identification Card (MMIC) Program. The San Joaquin County MMIC Program will open on Monday, January 5, 2009.

Under this State-wide and State-mandated program, San Joaquin County Public Health Services Vital Registration Office will be responsible for processing MMIC applications and issuing identification cards to qualified patients and primary caregivers who are residents of the County.

The Public Health Services Vital Registration Office is located at 1601 E. Hazelton Avenue in Stockton.

Completed applications will be accepted by appointment only. Applicants must submit required documentation, have a digital photograph taken, and pay fees at the time of the appointment. The fee for the card is $71.00 for MediCal recipients and $141.00 for all others.

Appointments may be scheduled by calling the Public Health Services at 468-8600, Monday through Friday between the hours of 8:00 am and 5:00 pm.

Patients must meet the following criteria to begin the MMIC application process:

· Residency - must be a resident of San Joaquin County;*

· Proof of identity - must bring proof of identity such as CA driver’s license or CA identification card;*

· Written Documentation of Patient’s Medical Records - a physician licensed in California must complete this form *

which will provide the diagnosis of an eligible medical condition for the patient;

· Photograph - a digital photo of patient and primary caregiver will be taken and will appear on the medical marijuana

identification card;

· Fees - application fees must be paid when an application is submitted.

Application materials can be obtained online or at the Public Health Services-Vital Registration Office in the Public Health Services building in Stockton.

For additional information regarding the State program criteria, visit

*-The Id Card is not something you have to has its ups and downs.

Pro: Verification, Should Prevent Arrest, County Issued


1. Still no State retailers, distributors, caregivers, or collective dispensaries.
2. why get a card from the county when they have no limits or guidelines?
3. Limited to state guidelines
4. Registered in a State-wide system

Additional Resources

Stanislaus one of dozen without a card program

tanislaus one of dozen without a card program

last updated: January 12, 2009 02:39:46 AM

A medical marijuana identification card program will come before the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors sometime in the next few months. It's a program that has been in the works for more than 2½ years.

Stanislaus is one of just 12 of the state's 58 counties that does not already have an identification card program, which is required by state law. The programs issue identification cards to medical marijuana users who ask for them. The cards can then be shown to law enforcement officers when patients are stopped and questioned about possession of the drug.

The cards, like the whole issue of medical marijuana, have been controversial. Two years ago, then-Stanislaus County Supervisor Ray Simon called the program "a huge fraud perpetrated on us by the state of California." Modesto Police Chief Roy Wasden also criticized the program, saying it should go through a formal U.S. Food and Drug Administration trial and be dispensed by prescription through pharmaceutical companies.

Proponents, however, point out that medical marijuana use was approved by the state's voters in 1996 in Proposition 215. The federal government still considers any marijuana use to be illegal, but proponents of Proposition 215 point out that issuing the ID cards violates neither state nor federal law -- and not issuing them would violate state law.

Stanislaus and several other counties delayed issuing the cards while legal challenges played out. Now that the ID cards have cleared legal hurdles, most counties have launched programs. San Joaquin County announced its card program last week.

The Stanislaus ID card program is under review to make sure it complies with state law, said Deputy County Counsel Dean Wright. The program will require the county to acquire camera equipment to take pictures of applicants, along with paperwork to ensure that the applicants have a doctor's recommendation. The information would then be forwarded to Sacramento, where the cards will be issued.

Some of the delay in getting the program before the Board of Supervisors has been caused by the small staff in the California Department of Public Health dedicated to overseeing the program, Wright said.

When it gets on the supervisors' agenda is still in question, because the county is wrestling with midyear budget adjustments, said Cleopathia Moore, associate director of the county Health Services Agency, which will administer the program.

The cards are completely voluntary -- medical marijuana users don't have to get them in order to comply with the state law. The cards in theory will prevent them from being arrested if police officers find them in possession of marijuana.

When the medical ID card program comes before the board, members will be faced with a decision to approve or reject a specific program. Rejecting the idea of an ID program carries a legal risk: Solano County was sued last week by Americans for Safe Access for failing to implement a card program.

Most dispensaries banned

In the meantime, the medical marijuana environment in California and the Northern San Joaquin Valley continues to evolve. Most of the cities in the northern valley have banned marijuana dispensaries. That leaves patients with a doctor's recommendation a choice of either driving to the Bay Area, where there are many dispensaries; seeking the drug in the underground illegal market; or growing their own, which is allowed by law in limited quantities.

Medical marijuana advocates say most patients don't want to grow their own. It takes time and some expertise, as well as a place to grow it, said Aaron Smith, California policy director for the Marijuana Policy Project.

Driving to the Bay Area is also inconvenient if not impossible for some patients, Smith said. Some patients are undergoing chemotherapy and are physically unable to cultivate plants or drive for hours to get marijuana, he said.

Sources will deliver

"Many are going into the black market. It's readily available in the black market, but part of the intent of Prop. 215 was that they not have to go to the black market," Smith said.

"They are pushing the market into the dark corners of society instead of open, licensed and inspected dispensaries."

The Web site of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, another marijuana advocacy group, lists several sources that will deliver marijuana to the Modesto area, but the group doesn't vouch for the reliability of the sources, said Ellen Comp, a board member and volunteer for California NORML.

Doctors are more willing to recommend marijuana to patients since a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that it was a First Amendment right of doctors to make recommendations, Smith and Comp said.

In Modesto, a MediCann clinic at 725 18th St. provides patient evaluations and marijuana recommendations. MediCann is a San Francisco-based group with 12 clinics throughout the state dedicated to helping patients with medical marijuana referrals and other alternative medical treatments.

Bee staff writer Tim Moran can be reached at or 578-2349.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Feds Raid Lake Taheo Marijuana Dispensary

Feds Raid Lake Tahoe Marijuana Dispensary

* News

Saturday, January 24, 2009


Anyone remember when we were told private security companies were not involved by the Bush administration?

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE — Federal agents raided a medical marijuana dispensary in South Lake Tahoe on Thursday.


At about 11 a.m., five agents from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency — joined by members of the Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement, the South Lake Tahoe-El Dorado County Narcotics Enforcement Team and the South Lake Tahoe Police — served a federal search warrant on Patient to Patient Collective, located at 2314 Lake Tahoe Boulevard.

Agents seized between five and 10 pounds of processed marijuana and a “small amount” of U.S. currency from the collective, said DEA Special Agent Gordon Taylor.

Police made no arrests on Thursday.

Taylor declined to comment on additional details of the raid, saying Patient to Patient Collective is part of an ongoing investigation.

National Geo Pot Paradise

Monday, January 12, 2009

Marijuana Karma and You

Marijuana Karma and You

BuddhaThe term Karma originates from the religious beliefs of Buddhism and Hinduism.

Excellent marijuana strains originated in these parts of the World. Coincidence?

Marijuana Karma is a term we use to describe the karma we carry with us as a casual cannabis user (or a completely harmless wandering stoner) in this lifetime. This would be a good place to compare marijuana karma to a wandering methadone addict's karma (is there such a thing?). You can begin to visualize a difference here.

When we catch a buzz, get high, or get stoned (see The 3 Levels of High), we carry a generally optimistic, happy, rock-n-roll (the attitude, not necessarily the music), uppity type, deep thinker, silent arrogance. Remember, this is what we think... as we wander around. We are a pleasant people, if we let you speak with us... (insert laugh here)

Those of you who smoke without drinking (alcohol) at the same time will have an easier time understanding this important separation. This is simply because it is the BUZZ from only the marijuana that promotes this karma. Look at your drunk buddies (this is another type of karma that we do not attempt to define here, but it is NOT the same).

Some of you may think this is your mood, but it's deeper than that. This may be where the medicinal use of cannabis for depression comes in?

As we go through our daily activities (high), we carry with us this karma. It is difficult to pick a fight with us at this point, we are becoming more and more easy-going with every 'hit break' we take. We can actually see it in others, but only if we are under the influence - otherwise, they just look "stoned" to us.

The only exception to this Marijuana Karma definition, is that of the stoner who never leaves their home or environment. They have chosen to enjoy their karma in the most private of settings... that of stoner solitude. These retired individuals (of sorts), attain and remain in a constant state of stoned, easy-going bliss. At least that's the case with the individual attempting to retire to such a status, and they like it that way.

National Action Alert: Your Chance to Impact the US Attorney General Confirmation! Dear ASA Supporter,

National Action Alert:
Your Chance to Impact the US Attorney General Confirmation!

Dear ASA Supporter,

It’s here - your first opportunity to be a real part of changing medical cannabis policy. If you ever wanted to take action that could make a difference, now’s your chance!

On January 15th, Senate Judiciary Committee will begin confirmation hearings for President-elect’s nominee for US Attorney General, Eric H. Holder. Obama pledged to end DEA raids on individuals who use or provide medical cannabis in accordance with their state law. The U.S. Attorney General is the cabinet official who can carry out this stance.

Now is the time to act! We need you to help make sure the first discussions with Obama’s Attorney General include questions on medical cannabis.

It just takes two short but critical phone calls to Judiciary Chairman Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) (202) 224-7703, and ranking Republican Member Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) (202) 224-5225). Call both offices and say:

"Hi, my name is ___________ and I am calling about the Attorney General confirmation hearings. President-elect Obama said numerous times during his campaign that DEA raids on individuals legally qualified to use medical cannabis in their states are a waste of resources and that he would end that policy. 72 million Americans live in the 13 states with medical cannabis laws. Please ask Eric Holder if he will uphold Obama's promise and end DEA raids on legal medical cannabis patients."

Because the federal government has refused to act, states have taken the lead in protecting patients who use medical cannabis. However, for 8 years the Bush Administration, the US Department of Jusice (DOJ), and the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) have aggressively targeted, raided, arrested, and prosecuted individuals who comply with state medical cannabis laws. In court, defendants are not allowed to present this as evidence for their defense, or even to mention that such state laws exist. As a result, many innocent people are serving time in federal prisons, and many more are waiting for their sentence.

We demand change NOW. Stand up for them by joining our effort!

Once you’ve made the call, send a letter to increase the pressure even more!

Change will not be handed to us. If we want it we have to demand it, and now is the best opportunity this country has ever had. Thank you for being a part of it.


George Pappas
Field Coordinator
Americans for Safe Access

Friday, January 9, 2009

Solano County sued over pot ID cards Henry K. Lee, Chronicle Staff Writer Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Solano County sued over pot ID cards

Henry K. Lee, Chronicle Staff Writer

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

(01-05) 16:03 PST FAIRFIELD --

A medical-marijuana advocacy group sued Solano County on Monday for its failure to issue identification cards to users of medicinal cannabis as required by state law.

The lawsuit, filed in Solano County Superior Court, said the county is among several in California that have failed to give out the cards, which protect their holders from arrest by state or local police for possessing small amounts of marijuana.

"Solano County cannot simply flout its obligation under the law," Joe Elford, an attorney for Americans for Safe Access, said in a statement.

The group sent letters to Solano County in August and October urging it to comply with the 2003 law requiring the marijuana ID card program, Elford said.

In July, a state court of appeal upheld California's medical marijuana law enacted in 1996, rejecting arguments by San Diego and San Bernardino counties that allowing patients to use the drug with their doctor's approval condoned violations of federal narcotics laws.

Of California's 58 counties, 51 comply with the ID card program, Elford said.

Jo Ann Parker, deputy Solano County counsel, said the county had not yet been served with the suit. But she noted that the Board of Supervisors is scheduled to discuss the ID card program in closed session Jan. 13.

E-mail Henry K. Lee at

This article appeared on page B - 2 of the San Francisco Chronicle

Monday, January 5, 2009

Medical Marijuana Lawsuit Filed to Force Implementation of ID Card Program

For Immediate Release: January 5th, 2009

Medical Marijuana Lawsuit Filed to Force Implementation of ID Card Program

Advocates accuse Solano County of violating state law and denying protections for patients
Vallejo, CA -- Medical marijuana patient advocacy organization Americans for Safe Access (ASA) filed a lawsuit today against Solano County for failing to implement the state-mandated identification card program. State legislation adopted in 2003 mandated that all counties in California implement an identification card program meant to assist law enforcement and provide greater protections for medical marijuana patients and their caregivers. However, despite legislation and a landmark decision in July 2008 from the California Fourth District Court of Appeal, affirming the validity of that requirement, several counties including Solano have still failed to comply.

"Solano County cannot simply flaunt its obligation under the law," said Joe Elford, Chief Counsel for ASA, the organization that also helped litigate the landmark case, San Diego County v. State of California. "This lawsuit is aimed at forcing counties like Solano to fully implement state law and to stop denying medical marijuana patients their legal rights and protections." Today's action follows letters sent in August and October of 2008 to officials from Solano and other counties indicating a resolve to file a lawsuit unless compliance with the law was imminent. In addition to the letter sent to Solano County officials, letters were sent to 15 other counties that have failed to implement the state ID card program.

On October 16, 2008, the California Supreme Court refused to review San Diego County v. State of California, making clear the obligations of counties under the state's medical marijuana law. Since 2003, forty of California's 58 counties have implemented the medical marijuana ID card program. As a result of the letters and the new court mandate, 11 additional counties (Alpine, Fresno, Kings, Mariposa, Modoc, Nevada, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Siskiyou, Stanislaus, and Ventura) have come into compliance or have pledged to do so.

According to the 2003 state law, California medical marijuana patients and their caregivers may obtain ID cards from the state, administered by each of the state's counties, that are supposed to provide protection from arrest and prosecution. However, because of an unwillingness by many counties to implement the program, thousands of patients are placed at unnecessary risk. Local officials have used federal law to deny patients' rights under state law, but the July 2008 landmark decision made clear that federal law does not preempt the state's medical marijuana law.

For further information:
Lawsuit filed today against Solano County:
California Court of Appeals ruling from July 31, 2008: