Medical Marijuana Business Attracts Hedge Funds, Venture Capitalists

Marijuana has been a cash crop for many years in this country. The only problem is that most of that crop had been grown illegally. Now, that medical marijuana is legal in 15 states and the District of Columbia, legalized marijuana has quickly become so popular it is attracting attention from hedge fund managers and venture capitalists, not to mention a whole new batch of entrepreneurs.

Doctors still can’t prescribe marijuana because it is categorized as a schedule one drug like LSD. But they can recommend it and that’s all anyone needs to get a medical marijuana license that allows them to buy marijuana legally in those 15 states, with three more states about join them.

Each license sells for around $130 and some clinics selling the licenses have brought in more than a million dollars in just their first year. The once illegal joint is selling like hot cakes throughout middle America to consumers who no longer have to worry about getting arrested for possession, at least by local or state authorities.

The federal government still outlaws marijuana possession but it’s unlikely someone with a medical marijuana license will be busted by an FBI or DEA agent if caught smoking in his or her own home. In fact, just last year U.S. enforcers promised to leave medical marijuana operations alone if they complied with state law.

That prompted a significant increase in interest among entrepreneurs. Today, there are an estimated 2,400 medical marijuana dispensaries from California to Maine. In Colorado, they outnumber Starbucks two to one.

 

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Move over, Big Pharma and Big Oil, Big Marijuana is here

Legalization ‘looking inevitable,’ spokesman says

If there’s one group of people who get their way in Washington, it’s lobbyists.

Now, advocates of marijuana legalization may have a reason to cheer that political reality: They’re getting their own marijuana lobby group.

And just Big Pharma and Big Oil lobby for greater leeway for their businesses, so too will Big Marijuana push for their industry to be given the freedom to succeed.

Aaron Smith, executive director of the newly formed National Cannabis Industry Association, says that marijuana legalization is “looking inevitable.”

Smith told McClatchy news service: “It’s pretty clear that the medical marijuana industry is becoming recognized more and more by the mainstream as a fully legitimate part of the economy.”

Legalization “didn’t happen in 2010, but it’s likely to happen in 2012,” he added. “It’s going to be relatively soon we’re going to see states move from medical marijuana into broader legal markets. And the federal government needs to catch up. Frequently the American people are ahead of the Congress.”

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Banned marijuana dispensary reopens in Wildomar

A medical marijuana collective engaged in a legal battle against Wildomar re-opened its storefront location Monday in defiance of a citywide ban on dispensaries.

The move by the Wildomar Patients Compassionate Group comes a week after the collective filed a legal petition seeking to block the city from enforcing its ban.

General Manager William Sump said the group believes Wildomar’s ban violates state law, which allows medical marijuana patients access to medication.

“I will only operate until a judge tells us not to,” Sump said.

Wildomar City Manager Frank Oviedo said the city would likely seek a court order forcing the dispensary to shut down.

“We’re going to enforce the city’s ordinance,” Oviedo said. “There is no other option. We can’t ignore our own laws.”

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San Jose union begins organizing pot workers

A major California labor union is organizing medical cannabis workers in Oakland, a move that analysts say will help efforts to legalize marijuana and open the door for the union to organize thousands more workers if state voters pass a measure in November to allow recreational marijuana use by adults.

The 26,000-member United Food and Commercial Workers Local 5 in San Jose is believed to be the first union in the country to organize workers in a marijuana-related business. It is considering new job classifications including “bud tender” – a sommelier of sorts who helps medical marijuana users choose the right strain for their ailment.

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Oakland Lab Creates ‘Low Anxiety’ Pot

One of the nation’s most sophisticated cannabis testing labs has yielded powerful results this spring, isolating a “low-anxiety” strain of the plant by closely tracking the potency of local crops. The strain of medical marijuana from Oakland’s Harborside Health Center is based on findings from the dispensary’s new Steep Hill laboratory. The strain is a custom-bred True Blueberry crossed with OG Kush, said Harborside Health Center Director Stephen DeAngelo.

Patients report getting pain relief without getting too stoned. “They’re not saying that it’s no buzz at all; what they’re saying is that it’s diminished,” DeAngelo explained. “They describe it as being mellow, even, steady, not overwhelming, not producing anxiety.”

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Medical marijuana stores firebombed in Montana

The Billings, Montana, City Council will take up the issue of regulating medical marijuana on Monday night in a meeting expected to be intense in the wake of the firebombings of two of the city’s medical marijuana storefronts in the last two days.

The southern Montana city’s dispensaries legally provide marijuana to medical patients who use it for maladies from glaucoma to nausea to lack of appetite. In the latest incidents, the phrase “Not in our town” was spray-painted on the businesses, police say.

Billings Police Department Sgt. Kevin Iffland said Big Sky Patient Care was hit early Sunday morning and Montana Therapeutics was the target early Monday. Both had a rock thrown through the front door, followed by a Molotov cocktail. In both cases, Iffland said, the fire was put out swiftly and damage was not extensive.

Iffland said Billings police are working with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and that the two firebombs are being handled as felony arsons carrying sentences of up to 20 years in prison and a $50,000 fine.

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California To Collect $100 million in Cannabis Taxes This Year

While the State of California begins to debate the consequences of taxing and regulating cannabis for personal use, it’s important to note the state is already taxing and regulating the agricultural product used by 2.9 million Californians monthly. California Board of Equalization official Anita Gore told the Express this week that the board estimates it collects anywhere from $50 million to more than $100 million in sales taxes per year from medical cannabis dispensaries.

That’s on top of the millions of dollars municipalities like Oakland have begun collecting in local sales 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 of business like “retail” and “pharmacy,” Gore said.

The board estimates the state can make $1.4 billion annually from fully integrating the vibrant cannabis market into the economy.

Wildomar moves to allow medical marijuana in its city

Once drafted, and if passed by council member vote, the new ordinance would establish Wildomar as the only Southwest Riverside city to allow medical marijuana within its borders.

In front of a standing-room-only audience, and after more than two hours of discussion and heated debate, the Wildomar City Council passed a motion during its council meeting Wednesday night that paves the way for medical marijuana in its city.

In a 4-1 vote, council members passed a motion to draft a new zoning ordinance to allow medical marijuana collectives to legally operate in Wildomar.

Mayor Bridgette Moore cast the lone dissenting vote.

Existing city zoning ordinances currently prohibit marijuana businesses of any kind to operate in Wildomar.

Once drafted, and if passed by council member vote, the new ordinance would establish Wildomar as the only Southwest Riverside County city to allow medical marijuana operations within its borders.

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San Bernardino Deputy District Attorney Bruce Brown with marijuana activists

A little brain food for the perpetually Recovering City of Big Bear Lake Council and other prostitutes of the Prison-Industrial Complex

Big Bear’s Out, Aspen’s in Cannabis competition coming to Aspen this spring aims to find out

[ Don't waste your time in the Recovering Big Bear, where the Nazi Republican pigs are stinking, business sucks and attitudes offend visitors.  Big Bear is now devoted to AA and urine samples.  Let's head for Aspen! ]

ASPEN, Colo. (AP) — It’s like a beer competition for marijuana.

A cannabis festival in Aspen, Colorado, this spring will be the first in the state for approved growers to put their strains in a contest.

The Western Slope Cannabis Crown will have about 50 medical marijuana growers enter their strains of weed. The marijuana strains will be diagnostically tested for their THC levels. Growers will also be able to sell to medical marijuana patients. The customers would vote on a “people’s choice” strain.

The Cannabis Crown organizer, Bobby Scurlock, says about 1,500 tickets have been sold for the two-day event.

California Supreme Court rejects medical marijuana limits

The California Supreme Court on Thursday unanimously struck down state limits — and, most likely, local limits, too — on how much marijuana a patient or caregiver can possess or grow for medical purposes.

But the state’s highest court revived another part of state law that a lower court had ordered voided, protecting the state’s voluntary identification-card program for patients and caregivers.

The Office of the State Attorney General had agreed with lawyers for defendant Patrick Kelly, of Lakewood, that the limits should be abolished but the ID card system retained. The ruling may have brought cheers in some cities, but it could be irrelevant in San Jose — at least for a while.

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Just a reminder to the pig-sucking, brain-dead, flacid, perpetually-Recovering City of Big Bear Lake Council

Paul Chabot would love this commercial:

Teens Too Smart To Buy Anti-Drug Ads

A kid of about 13 wanders through a house party.  He goes outside where there are a quartet of pot smokers who offer him a joint.

He thinks for a moment, then there are all these quick flashes of him with pills, hiding stuff under his bed, getting into fights with his family, falling asleep in class and getting busted at school.

The ad implies that trying pot once will turn you into a full-on drug fiend within days.  This flies in the face of all science on the subject, but since when were facts used in anti-drug ads?

So the kid just shrugs and goes back into the party — ostensibly to eat more junk food and, quaff ‘energy drinks’, and listen to L’il Wayne and Snoop Dogg.

Does anyone really think kids will believe this fear-mongering balderdash?

In the 1980s, when I was a teen, they tried to stuff all this ‘Just Say No’ stuff down our throats and all it did was make us think that adults were morons.  If this new ad campaign is anywhere near as effective as previous government-run, anti-marijuana messages, we should see the number of teen drug users increase 10% within the next few years.


Now, instead of representing their constituents, like the pretty girl above, our mayor and council work for these guys…

Top row:  Rodney (“Baby Rod”) Hoops and Floyd Tidwell.  Bottom row: Gary Penrod and Cindy Beavers

And these guys work by preying on you.

Bob (RIP) and Mayor Liz, by the way, used to run a little back-room operation from their tourist shop.  They would purchase and re-sell meals to the Sheriff’s Department for their inmates.  They could have bought them direct, but were feeding their sheep while primping for the Master’s Work.

Liz, you’re supposed to be a psychologist.  Do you remember that little thing that Erikson called “ego integrity?”  Where will you find yours?  Tell the truth, Doc.

Lines drawn for legalization of pot

The stakes could rise considerably in 2010 in the argument over marijuana use – and not just for medical purposes.

Officials from a group campaigning to put a marijuana-legalization measure before California voters said they have enough signatures to qualify for the 2010 ballot.

The possibility of marijuana being legalized in the state has riled activists on both sides of the issue.

“First off, we don’t think it’s going to pass at all,” said Paul Chabot, co-founder of the Inland Valley Drug Free Community Coalition.

“California has really woken up since Proposition 215 passed in 1996. Most Californians now know this fraud is brought to us by those who funded the (marijuana) legalization initiative.”

Proposition 215 legalized the use of marijuana for medical purposes.

A Field Poll conducted in April found that 56 percent of California residents supported legalizing and taxing marijuana to help bridge the state budget deficit [ So, as you can see, Chabot lies again. ].

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A video to warm the heart of Big Bear’s new “appointed” shill, “Doc” Harris

Another win for Big Alcohol: The Recovering City of Big Bear Lake Council bows to the prison-industrial complex

[ BBOP Comment: There's a related post at Cactus Thorns.

Liz, didn't you and your deceased husband once feed yourselves by brokering jailhouse meals?  Still in the business?

Greg, enough with the deceitful propaganda.  Your boss, like Assembly candidate Paul Chabot, is developmentally disabled from childhood trauma due, significantly, to the war on drugs.  Direct him to seek counseling from Law Enforcement Against Prohibition - and become a real cop.

The latest poll shows that the MAJORITY of American want pot legalized, period - not just medical marijuana.  And the DEA was forced to remove its false statements about marijuana from its website when the American Medical Association stepped into the act.  That woman who was pistol-whipped...?  Tell us why, Greg.  What was the assailant after, and why?  A good argument for legalization, would you not say?  As quoted in this Grizzly article, you are a liar, if by omission.  Who, exactly do you represent?

You all SHOULD be red.  Where are those new clothes, Emperor? This is what you and your Brownies serve.

The truth is that legalization is the key to ending drug violence, Eliot Ness. This issue has now become a matter of national security (even if that mattered, in the face of more important PEOPLE).  It is time to eliminate welfare for terrorists.

Your legacies, as will be known to your children and future generations, are a matter of your choice. Stand up, tall and proud, and choose yours. ]

The city of Big Bear Lake is saying no to marijuana dispensaries. During the Dec. 14 City Council meeting, council members unanimously approved two ordinances prohibiting dispensaries within the city limits.

The city’s director of building and planning, Jim Miller, said the ordinances will clarify the city’s stance in prohibiting medical marijuana dispensaries. “(The development code) does have language prohibiting land use in violation of federal law,” Miller said. “We felt it was important to strengthen our municipal code.”

Medical marijuana dispensaries are prohibited by federal law under the Controlled Substances Act. These same dispensaries are legal under the state of California’s Compassionate Use Act. The city of Big Bear Lake does not have specific language in its municipal code regarding medical marijuana dispensaries. The ordinance will clarify local regulation of land use, Miller said.

According to Miller, the city has received several inquiries and one business license application to establish medical marijuana dispensaries within the city limits. The city denied the requests based on Development Code Section 17.01.030 (F) that prohibits land use in violation of federal, state or county plans, regulations or laws.

The City Council also passed a second ordinance that serves as an interim regulation while the municipal code is amended. The interim urgency ordinance places a 45-day moratorium on the establishment and operation of medical marijuana dispensaries. The ordinance can be extended for an additional 10 months and 15 days after public notice and a public hearing.

Miller said in light of recent problems in Los Angeles County and San Diego County, city staff believes it is necessary to immediately address the issue. There seems to be an increase in the potential risk of criminal activities near dispensary sites, according to the staff report. “This has created a lot of controversy,” Miller said.

Capt. Greg Garland of the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department urged the City Council to approve the ordinances. “San Diego is going through the same problems that we’ve been reading about in Los Angeles,” Garland said. Recently, a woman was pistol-whipped while inside a San Diego dispensary, he said.

“We’re looking at how other counties are dealing with the rules and regulations,” Garland said. “We just want additional time to research.”

Mayor pro tem Bill Jahn asked why the moratorium couldn’t automatically extend to the full 10 months. Miller explained that state law requires the 45-day moratorium and subsequent expansion.

The moratorium allows city staff to do more research before recommendations are made to amend the municipal code.

63rd District: You need to know Paul Chabot

Paul Chabot,  who is running for California’s 63rd State Assembly District, recently participated in a debate over drug legalization, which included former judge James “Jim” P. Gray of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and Ethan Nadelmann of the Drug Policy Alliance.

Chabot was damaged in childhood by incompetent parenting and by the war on drugs. While compassion and support for the handicapped is honorable, outright patronization and exaggerated, unreal flattery is an insult.

The military, the criminal justice system and many religious cults go a step further and recruit from sources such as Alcoholics Anonymous, where a couple of percent of forced participants who actually are handicaps (euphemistically called “addicts“), buy into the concept of helplessness and are anxious to turn the control of their minds and bodies over to a “higher power.”  Chabot has been a subject of their nurturing since age 12.

These are the people sought by the recruiters.  They will do what rational people will not.  Note that 1 in 8 combat troops needs alcohol counseling.  Note the escalated activity by law enforcement to round them up during “wartime.”

Chabot has already proven his helplessness and mindless obedience to both the prison- and military-industrial complexes.  The next step for such victims is abandonment – or “promotion” to public office for one final round of exploitation.

If he is abandoned now, further damage to himself and his family might be avoided.  Even if this was not the case, society cannot accept the threat he will represent to all of us if he is patronized into a political career as a windfall cut-out for his handlers.

Do you want another “leader” who cannot handle his alcohol and/or drugs?  A leader whose goal is to punish all normal, healthy people for his disease and weakness?  It is time to take control of government away from the vulgar, self-serving military- and prison-industrial complexes and put them back under our control where they belong.  Have they not disgraced us all enough?  Listen to the debate…

Listen to the debate here.

His “testimonial-fired” personal website is here.

His political website is here.

His “bio” is here.

Czechs Allow 5 Cannabis Plants For Personal Use From 2010

The interim government of the Czech Republic, led  by chief statistician-turned-Prime Minister Jan Fischer, Monday took another step towards making casual marijuana smoking a worry-free affair.

Fischer’s cabinet defined what constitutes “small amounts” of cannabis for personal use, clarifying the country’s new penal code that from next year decriminalizes cultivation and possession of the plant by individuals.

As of Jan. 1 ordinary Czechs can grow up to five marijuana plants or have several marijuana cigarettes in their pockets without fear of criminal prosecution. Previously what constituted a small amount was not specified and the police and courts loosely interpreted the penal code case by case, often resulting in incarceration of home growers.

See story on the cannabis decision from Czech news agency CTK.

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At This School, It’s Marijuana in Every Class

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. — At most colleges, marijuana is very much an extracurricular matter. But at Med Grow Cannabis College, marijuana is the curriculum: the history, the horticulture and the legal how-to’s of Michigan’s new medical marijuana program.

“This state needs jobs, and we think medical marijuana can stimulate the state economy with hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars,” said Nick Tennant, the 24-year-old founder of the college, which is actually a burgeoning business (no baccalaureates here) operating from a few bare-bones rooms in a Detroit suburb.

The six-week, $485 primer on medical marijuana is a cross between an agricultural extension class covering the growing cycle, nutrients and light requirements (“It’s harvest time when half the trichomes have turned amber and half are white”) and a gathering of serious potheads, sharing stories of their best highs (“Smoke that and you are … medicated!”).

The only required reading: “Marijuana Horticulture: The Indoor/Outdoor Medical Grower’s Bible” by Jorge Cervantes.

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Los Angeles DA Joins Ranks of Drug Cartel Bitches Against Medical Marijuana

It was a petulant fit of pique, certainly entertaining, and potentially hilarious — if safe access for so many medical marijuana patients weren’t hanging in the balance.

After things didn’t go his way at Monday’s Los Angeles City Council joint committee meeting, District Attorney Stephen Lawrence (“Steve”) Cooley pronounced Tuesday that he’d keep prosecuting medical marijuana dispensaries, even if the council adopts an ordinance that doesn’t ban sales. Cooley said his office was already prosecuting some dispensaries, and he promised to step up such efforts in December.

The D.A.’s public meltdown was a result of his frustration that the council ignored the advice of L.A. City Attorney Carmen Trutanich and changed a provision in L.A.’s proposed medical marijuana ordinance, allowing cash transactions as long as they complied with state law.

“The City Council has no authority to amend state law or Proposition 215 (Compassionate Use Act of 1996). Such authority is solely possessed by California voters,” Cooley said. “What the City Council is doing is beyond meaningless and irrelevant.”

It was a richly ironic little hissy fit, given that drama king Cooley just handed pot advocates one of their best arguments in the unfolding culture war between those who insist on the lawful implementation of Proposition 215, California’s medical marijuana law, and those asserting, damn it, all weed sales are illegal, medical or not.

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George Will: US ‘probably in the process’ of legalizing marijuana

In the chronicle of America’s war against its marijuana users, conservative columnist George Will may have just earned credit for his own Walter Cronkite moment.

Appearing on ABC’s This Week With George Stephanopoulos on Sunday, the Pulitzer-winning journalist and longtime icon of America’s political right declared that with President Barack Obama’s new policy which respects the states right to allow medical marijuana, the United States is “probably in the process now of legalizing marijuana.”

He added that if there were to be a serious effort to fight the increasingly violent, powerful Mexican drug cartels, “you’d legalize marijuana,” the sale of which provides the gangs the vast majority of their funding.

Will’s comments come not even a week after a Gallup poll found record-breaking support across the United States for the legalization of marijuana, with nearly half of U.S. citizens in favor and a clear majority of support emerging among liberals, Democrats and moderates.

Will’s proclamation, as a well-respected conservative thinker, is especially significant given that Gallup found the only two political groups in the U.S. that are still very strongly opposed to legalization are conservatives and Republicans.

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Tim Lynch discusses legalizing medical marijuana on CNN

Medical Marijuana: California Judge Issues Injunction Blocking LA Dispensary Moratorium

A California Superior Court judge ruled Monday that the City of Los Angeles’s moratorium on new medical marijuana dispensaries is invalid and granted a preliminary injunction blocking enforcement of the ban. The Green Oasis dispensary and a number of other collectives sued the city last month seeking to overturn the moratorium.

They argued that the City Council violated state law when it extended its original moratorium in March. They also argued the measure was unconstitutionally vague.

Superior Court Judge James Chalfant concluded that the city did not follow state law when it moved to extend the moratorium, but had instead relied on an out-of-date local ordinance. “The city cannot rely on an expired ordinance,” he said as he issued the injunction.

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Feds issue new medical marijuana policy (to Good Ol’ Boy Hoops)

WASHINGTON – Pot-smoking patients or their sanctioned suppliers should not be targeted for federal prosecution in states that allow medical marijuana, prosecutors were told Monday in a new policy memo issued by the Justice Department.

Under the policy spelled out in a three-page legal memo, federal prosecutors are being told it is not a good use of their time to arrest people who use or provide medical marijuana in strict compliance with state law.

The guidelines issued by the department do, however, make it clear that federal agents will go after people whose marijuana distribution goes beyond what is permitted under state law or use medical marijuana as a cover for other crimes.

The memo advises prosecutors they “should not focus federal resources in your states on individuals whose actions are in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws providing for the medical use of marijuana.”

The new policy is a significant departure from the Bush administration, which insisted it would continue to enforce federal anti-pot laws regardless of state codes.

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Pot Dispensaries Sue L.A. Over Moratorium

Medical Marijuana Collectives’ Suit Comes As the City Struggles to Write a New Ordinance.

A newly formed association of Los Angeles medical marijuana collectives has challenged the city’s efforts to control dispensaries, claiming in a lawsuit that the 2-year-old moratorium is unconstitutionally vague and that the City Council violated state law when it extended the ban until mid-March.

The lawsuit, filed late Monday, is the first to take aim at the city’s attempts to halt the explosive growth in dispensaries.  It comes as the City Council’s Planning Committee continued Tuesday to struggle with a permanent ordinance to replace the moratorium.

Representatives from the city attorney’s office, the district attorney’s office and the Police Department reiterated to the committee their contention that over-the-counter sales of medical marijuana are illegal under state law.

Most of the hundreds of dispensaries in Los Angeles currently sell marijuana that way.
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5 Things the Corporate Media Don’t Want You to Know About Cannabis

Writing in the journal Science nearly four decades ago, State University of New York sociologist Erich Goode documented the media’s complicity in maintaining cannabis prohibition.

He observed: “[T]ests and experiments purporting to demonstrate the ravages of marijuana consumption receive enormous attention from the media, and their findings become accepted as fact by the public.  But when careful refutations of such research are published, or when later findings contradict the original pathological findings, they tend to be ignored or dismissed.”

A glimpse of today’s mainstream media landscape indicates that little has changed — with news outlets continuing to, at best, underreport the publication of scientific studies that undermine the federal government’s longstanding pot propaganda and, at worst, ignore them all together.

Here are five recent stories the mainstream media doesn’t want you to know about pot:
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Lawsuit challenges marijuana nuisance ordinance

A civil lawsuit filed September 11 in Ukiah against the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors and Sheriff Tom Allman challenges the nuisance ordinance limiting parcels to no more than 25 marijuana plants.

The suit contends the 25 plant per parcel rule contradicts state law, which places no limit on the number of plants a qualified patient or caregiver may cultivate. It also claims Mendocino County Code Section 9.31 sets an arbitrary limit to the number of plants a medical marijuana cooperative or collective may grow.

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The Marijuana Ads That ABC, FOX, and CBS Refused to Show You

A look inside a medical cannabis dispensary

Mitzelfelt to reject pot dispensaries

SAN BERNARDINO • County supervisors Tuesday extended the moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries for up to 10 months while county staff evaluates possible permitting options.

No matter the staff recommendation, 1st District Supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt said he will reject all proposed dispensaries in unincorporated areas.

“County staff are right now studying the land use implications of dispensaries, but regardless of what land use staff reports back to the Board, Supervisor Mitzelfelt will not support the approval of any dispensaries in the area he’s responsible for,” said David Zook, chief of staff for Mitzelfelt.

Proponents of the marijuana facilities argue that if regulated properly, dispensaries can serve those suffering from debilitating and life-threatening health problems without negatively impacting surrounding communities. Fifty-six percent of California voters approved the use of marijuana for medical use in 1996 with Proposition 215.

But Mitzelfelt sides with anti-drug advocates on the issue and believes dispensaries “will encourage illicit drug activity and are therefore dangerous to communities,” Zook said.

For the full story, read  Wednesday’s edition of the Daily Press. To subscribe to the Daily Press in print or online, call 241-7755 or click here.

Get involved
E-mail your viewpoint regarding medical marijuana dispensaries in unincorporated areas of San Bernardino County to jsquire@lusd.sbcounty.gov.

Or send your written opinion to: Jim Squire, Deputy Director/Advance Planning Division/San Bernardino County Land Use Services Department/385 N. Arrowhead Ave., First Floor/San Bernardino, CA 92415-0182.

Medical marijuana plans in motion

Next month, San Bernardino County will begin accepting applications from residents seeking medical marijuana cards.

On Tuesday, county supervisors formally adopted an ordinance to distribute cards, which is expected to begin Aug. 14. The county plans to charge patients a $166 annual fee to cover the costs of running the program. Medi-Cal patients will pay $83.

About 250 to 300 patients are expected to apply for cards, according to county estimates.

In May, The U.S. Supreme Court upheld California’s medical marijuana law, forcing San Bernardino County to comply with it by issuing cards.

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Oakland finds peace with its pot clubs

It is a warm weekday afternoon in uptown Oakland, and all’s quiet on 17th Street, save for the steady revolution of customers in and out of the Coffeeshop Blue Sky.

“Just imagine,” said Richard Lee, nodding at the familiar scene, “if you had four liquor outlets in all of Oakland. It’s ridiculous.”

Blue Sky is one of four medical marijuana dispensaries in the city. Lee is owner of the coffee shop and president of the 2-year-old Oaksterdam University, two blocks away, where 3,000 students have gone through courses on everything from hydroponics to staying within the boundaries of the ever-shifting law on medical marijuana.

Marijuana customers are ushered into the Blue Sky’s back room, past the racks of tiny plants for sale ($12 each), only after showing their medical-marijuana card to a security guard, who records the number. Customers choose from a menu of marijuana, which sells for $30 for an eighth-ounce of medium grade, $40 for high grade.

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Medical Pot Users, Growers Can Sue Over Raids

Medical marijuana patients and growers can sue police for illegally raiding their property and destroying their plants, a state appeals court ruled Wednesday.

The 2-1 decision by the Third District Court of Appeal in Sacramento was the first in the state to allow a patient or grower to sue claiming that their rights to cultivate and use medical marijuana have been violated.  Those rights are protected by state law but banned by federal law.

Officials in Butte County, where the case arose, argued that patients and suppliers can invoke the medical marijuana law only as a defense to criminal charges, not to sue for damages.  The court’s dissenting justice said no one is entitled to compensation for the destruction of a drug banned under federal law.

But the court’s majority said a marijuana patient or member of a collective has the same right as anyone else to sue officers who violate the constitutional ban on illegal searches and seizures.

The plaintiff, David Williams, is relying on “the same constitutional guarantee of due process available to all individuals,” Justice Vance Raye said.  He said Williams is not required to go through “the expense and stress of criminal proceedings” to assert his rights.

Williams belonged to a seven-member collective near the town of Paradise.  When a sheriff’s deputy came to his door without a warrant in September 2005, Williams showed doctors’ recommendations for all seven patients that allowed them to grow and use marijuana, he said.

He said the officer had questioned the legality of the collective and ordered him to destroy 29 of the 41 plants on his property or face arrest.  He complied, then sued the officer and the county for damages.  Wednesday’s ruling upheld a Superior Court judge’s refusal to dismiss the suit.

In a dissenting opinion, Justice Fred Morrison said Congress should ease the federal ban on marijuana to accommodate California and 12 other states that allow medical use.  But as long as the ban exists, he said, no one has the right to use the drug, and police are entitled to confiscate it.

Brad Stephens, a deputy county counsel, said the county would probably appeal to the state Supreme Court.

A Call for “A Conversation About the War on Drugs” From Solano County

Solano County Supervisor Barbara Kondylis is quoted today as follows in an article about Solano County’s plans to begin issuing medical marijuana ID cards:

“This is too long in coming. (Marijuana) does nothing compared to the harm alcohol causes. It’s time in this country we start having a conversation about the war on drugs.

Some Reports from the Congressional Research Service

“Mexico’s Drug-Related Violence,” May 27, 2009.

“The 2009 Influenza A(H1N1) ‘Swine Flu’ Outbreak: U.S. Responses to Global Human Cases,” May 26, 2009.

“The Cost of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Other Global War on Terror Operations Since 9/11,” updated May 15, 2009.

“USAID’s Office of Transition Initiatives After 15 Years: Issues for Congress,” May 27, 2009.

“Airport Improvement Program (AIP): Reauthorization Issues for Congress,” May 29, 2009.

“Identity Theft: Trends and Issues,” May 27, 2009.

“The State Secrets Privilege and Other Limits on Litigation Involving Classified Information” (pdf), May 28, 2009.

“Major U.S. Arms Sales and Grants to Pakistan Since 2001″ (fact sheet), updated June 3, 2009.

“Political Turmoil in Thailand and U.S. Interests,” May 26, 2009.

“The 2009 Influenza A(H1N1) ‘Swine Flu’ Outbreak: An Overview,” May 20, 2009.

“Defense: FY2010 Authorization and Appropriations,” May 8, 2009.

“Medical Marijuana: Review and Analysis of Federal and State Policies,” March 31, 2009.

Comment: Get real, drug czars

ELEVEN years ago, the United Nations pledged to win the war on drugs within a decade. It has failed.

At this year’s meeting of the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs, held in Vienna in March, there was a two-day session to evaluate the progress since 1998. In his opening remarks, the head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, Antonio Maria Costa, claimed “measurable progress”. The drug problem has been “contained”, he said, and drug use has “stabilized”.

Costa’s position flies in the face of the evidence, and by the end of the meeting he was on the defensive. But he said the goal remains the same, and he reiterated the UN’s position: that the choice for the world’s nations is either to apply strict prohibition or concede to total legalization.

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Under the radar: US Democrats overseas pass marijuana resolution

The Democratic Party Committee Abroad, otherwise known as Democrats Abroad, passed a resolution on April 25 recommending the legalization of marijuana in all 50 states.

The news appears to have gone completely unnoticed by all mainstream outlets.

The Democrats Abroad are considered a state party by the Democratic National Committee, which affords them eight elected, voting members. They help U.S. citizens who are traveling and living outside the United States cast ballots in national elections.

The DNC maintains a pool of 200 voting members divvied up by individual states’ populations.

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Supervisors to discuss next step in medical marijuana law controversy in CLOSED session

The San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors will meet in closed session June 2 to discuss its next plan of action following the U.S. Supreme Court‘s refusal to hear its joint lawsuit challenging California’s medical marijuana law.”I assume the board, in its judicious manner, will issue a decision forthwith,” said Burt Southard, spokesman for Board Chairman Gary Ovitt, on Thursday.

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a joint lawsuit filed in 2006 by San Bernardino and San Diego counties, that argued they didn’t have to comply with the state law, passed in 2004, because the federal ban on marijuana pre-empted the state law.

With all legal avenues exhausted, the county is now in a position to open the door to medical marijuana dispensaries and issue identification cards to legitimate medical marijuana patients.

“You can’t hide behind the skirts of the federal government and say, `We don’t have to do this anymore,”‘ said Palm Springs resident Lanny Swerdlow, addressing the Board of Supervisors at their Tuesday meeting.

Swerdlow is the director of the Marijuana Anti-Prohibition Project, an Inland Empire-based medical marijuana patient support group and law reform organization.

See also:

San Bernardino County accused of violating Brown Act

Supreme Court upholds California medical pot law

Josie Gonzales, county supervisor, says she supports medical marijuana program

A day after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the state’s medical marijuana law, a San Bernardino County supervisor indicated Tuesday that she is ready to support the policy.

The Board of Supervisors is not scheduled to discuss its next step until June 2, but Supervisor Josie Gonzales told about 40 medical marijuana advocates it would be a top priority.

“I have long been a supporter of medical marijuana,” she said.

Gonzales said she had committed to “step forward” after the legal debate was resolved and that she hopes the county has reached that point now.

See also:

Supervisor Josie Gonzales criticizes hiring of immigration activist

Another Nazi Pig Comes to Town: San Bernardino County supervisor hires controversial activist

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Michigan Medical Marihuana Program ID Card Applications Now Accepted

(CA) Medical Marijuana No Longer Grounds for License Suspension

The use of medical marijuana can no longer be the sole grounds for losing driving privileges.

In a policy revision — or clarification, depending upon who you speak with — the state Department of Motor Vehicles has determined, in writing, that the use of medical marijuana prescribed by a physician is to be treated the same as any other prescription medication that may affect safe driving.

The update came about after the medical marijuana advocacy group Americans for Safe Access ( ASA ) filed suit on behalf of a 53-year-old Atwater woman who lost her driver’s license due to her use of medical marijuana.

See also:

DMV sued over medical marijuana

Medical pot user sues DMV to get license back

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