California, Los Angeles

Medical marijuana by county.

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California, Los Angeles

Postby palmspringsbum » Thu May 11, 2006 3:14 pm

Los Angeles CityBeat wrote:Editorial

CHOOSING SCIENCE

Los Angeles CityBeat
5-11-06

This week, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors delivered an important victory for medicine in defiance of the Bush administration’s War on Science. On Tuesday, the supes approved an ordinance to regulate medical marijuana dispensaries, and voted to participate in the state Medical Marijuana ID Card Program. These decisions were made in the face of significant pressure from the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, which has held that the 1996 passage of Proposition 215, legalizing medical marijuana in the state, has no effect on federal law, under which all cannabis is still illegal.

Just two weeks ago, in an effort to stiffen support for the DEA’s position, the federal Food and Drug Administration came out with a statement declaring that pot had “no medical use,” meaning it remains illegal on a par with heroin and PCP. This was received as more meddling by the Bush administration to favor its notion of morality and disregard empirical evidence, as has also been noted in rulings regarding abortion pills and contraception.

The supes, however, placed their trust in the people of California and their doctors and, as the most populous county in the nation, L.A.’s vote carries considerable weight. Moreover, the county has put in place what advocates like Americans for Safe Access consider the most progressive medipot ordinance in the U.S. It requires safety protocols for users and allows for pot to be consumed on the dispensary premises. For cancer, AIDS, and MS patients, this means no more hiding in the shadows. It will also allow patients to take cuttings home and grow their own weed, thus reducing the cost and making patients more self-sufficient. This is exactly what voters have said they want.

While the ID cards are optional for patients and haven’t proven to be a protection from federal prosecution, the permitting of dispensaries may be a hedge against DEA action. The feds have been very active in raiding medipot dispensaries in the last few years – most notably raiding all 13 dispensaries in San Diego County a few months back – but have not busted facilities with county or city permits. The San Diego County government, for instance, is extremely hostile to dispensaries. L.A.’s action could stop raids like the one that closed the L.A. Cannabis Resource Center in West Hollywood in 2001. More important, it establishes that residents here choose science over false Drug War morality, and that’s an argument whose time has come.


05-11-06

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Postby budman » Thu May 11, 2006 5:07 pm

<span class=postbold>See Also</span>: Los Angeles County Code Chapter 7.55 MEDICAL MARIJUANA DISPENSARIES

The Daily Breeze wrote:Originally published Wednesday, May 10, 2006
Updated Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Medical pot sites OK'd for county

Supervisors allow dispensaries in unincorporated areas such as Marina del Rey. Foes fear some will drive under the influence.


By Alison Hewitt
Copley News Service
The Daly Breeze

A3

Medical marijuana dispensaries will be allowed in unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County beginning June 9 under an ordinance that gained final approval Tuesday from the county Board of Supervisors.

In a separate vote, the supervisors gave themselves the final say in approving locations for the dispensaries and expanded the number of residents who will be notified of a proposed facility, changes that raise the cost of a site permit substantially.

Supervisor Don Knabe, who pushed for the change, explained that the higher bar for approval creates greater opportunity for residents to have more input.

Paradoxically, the approval process is also likely to be quicker than the less-stringent alternative, said Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, who has been a strong supporter of medical marijuana. However, the still-lengthy permitting process means it will likely take more than a year for any dispensaries to be approved in unincorporated areas such as Lennox, Athens, Del Aire, Marina del Rey, La Rambla and Rancho Dominguez, according to county officials.

The supervisors also gave tentative approval to a system of fees under which dispensaries will pay $2,254 for a business license and $213 for an annual renewal fee. County-issued identification cards will be developed that medical marijuana users would use to prove to police that they are in possession of marijuana legally.

Supporters were pleased that, after a lengthy moratorium prohibiting new dispensaries in unincorporated areas, the supervisors enacted the new policy.

"This is a positive step forward," said Amanda Brazel, the Los Angeles County field coordinator for Americans for Safe Access and a medical marijuana patient. With the long application process, "it will take longer for dispensaries to open, but at least they will get to open and help patients," she said.

Opponents said they were concerned that the new law, which allows patients to smoke on site, will result in people driving home while high on the drug. Nancy Logan, a Manhattan Beach resident who lost her husband and was severely injured in a car wreck caused by a driver high on drugs, said she had hoped the supervisors would extend the moratorium.

"I'm concerned about drugged driving," she said.

Supervisor Mike Antonovich, who opposed the medical marijuana ordinance, agreed.

"This is opening a Pandora's box," he said. "To locate these facilities in residential areas where individuals are able to access marijuana, there are no controls over their ability to leave the facility and drive on the highways, and I consider it a health and safety issue."


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Just Say Maybe

Postby Midnight toker » Sat Sep 23, 2006 12:48 pm

The Los Angeles Times Magazine wrote:Just Say Maybe

Dan Neil
September 24, 2006
The Los Angeles Times Magazine

A couple of months ago I was at a Hollywood party—except it was in Silver Lake—when two attractive, daughter-aged women came in with a large trash bag, which turned out to contain about three pounds of extremely exotic, highly fissile marijuana. They dumped the bag out on a coffee table right in front of me.

The party, a rather listless affair until then, perked right up.

I will spare you my college days' dope-alogue. Suffice to say this wasn't the most ganja I'd ever seen in one place, by about 1,000 pounds. But it had been two decades since I seriously contemplated a table full of brain salad, and I was impressed. And surprised. People still get high?

Illicit drug use peaked in the late 1970s—I can only take partial credit—and has declined more or less steadily since. According to the government's 2005 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, about 20 million Americans age 12 or older, or 8.1% of the population, are illicit drug users, and that figure has been stable for the past four years. Marijuana is by far the most used illicit drug, with about 6% of the population (14.6 million) toking up on a regular basis. Yet marijuana use among young people has leveled off, and among kids 12 to 17 is dropping sharply.

The only headline news from the government's report, released this month, was that drug use among baby boomers is up sharply, 63% since 2002, with marijuana being the drug of choice.

Well, I had a premonition of these statistics when I was sitting around the coffee table, the oldest person there by about a lifetime. It seems I was the only one who knew how to twist a proper spliff. Without quite realizing it, I had become a folklorist of weed.

Just in case you're wondering, no, I don't smoke dope. The last time I imbibed, my babbling head fell off my shoulders and rolled into a raging river of paranoia. The pot I smoked in my youth was the crassest variety of skunkweed compared with the hydroponically grown, genetically engineered King Kong super-doobage available today. But I am not surprised that my fellow boomers are finding their way back to those verdant fields. For one thing, they are at the peak of their earning potential, and marijuana is expensive. How ironic that the weed of the people should become yet another perk of the high-net-worth set.

I'm struck, also, by the unspoken implication of the government's figures. If marijuana use is so devastating to one's life prospects, how is it these boomers have managed to survive so long and prosper so well as to take up the habit later in life? We should be watchful and concerned about drug use—including alcohol and nicotine—among pre-adults, but I find it almost impossible to care if a 50-year-old suburbanite draws on a bong after dinner.

There's a pop culture corollary at work here too. Back in the late 1970s, public figures—entertainers, politicians, even legislators—were often quite open about their drug experimentation. The language of advertising invoked drug use: "get high" on this or that. Drug-themed comedians became mainstream stars. It may be hard to convince your kids, but Cheech and Chong sold a comedy LP packaged with oversized rolling papers.

Then came the moral hysteria of America's War on Drugs, and previously confessed casual marijuana users went silent. Politicians such as Bill Clinton and George W. Bush became hilariously uncomfortable when confronted with questions of their past drug use. Such were the days of the Green Scare.

But I've noticed that—perhaps because the War on Drugs has been supplanted by another casus belli, the War on Terror—the moral hysteria surrounding drug use has trickled down to a mere agitation. Also, the "war on . . ." modality has proved faulty. A recent review of the government's eight-year, $1.4-billion anti-marijuana advertising campaign noted that the ads actually increased the likelihood of first-time drug use among teens. Oops.

The point is, prohibitionists are losing ground. Years ago we passed Proposition 215, allowing the use of medical marijuana. On Gov. Schwarzenegger's desk now is Assembly Bill 1147, which would end the prohibition against the cultivation of industrial hemp, one of the world's most useful crops.

Meanwhile, the casual use of marijuana is back in the pop mainstream. This might be because the people who make entertainment in this country belong to the reefer-baptized bubble of boomers. There's no better example than the Showtime series "Weeds," whose main character is a suburban mom peddling pot out of her tract home.

"Weeds" obviously is satirical, but of what? The surface-obsessed banalities of haute bourgeoisie? Sure. But it also lampoons the overblown panic that has led people to breezily associate marijuana use with the slippery slope of heroin addiction.

This idea—that marijuana was the demon seed of worse addictions—seems positively quaint these days. Marijuana is not a gateway drug. It's the drug of gated communities.

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City, county vow to close pot clinic

Postby palmspringsbum » Wed Nov 08, 2006 5:38 pm

The Pasadena Star-News wrote:City, county vow to close pot clinic

By Mary Frances Gurton Staff Writer
Pasadena Star-News
Article Launched:11/04/2006 11:20:48 PM PST

<table class=posttable align=right width=300><tr><td class=postcell><img class=postimg width=300 src=bin/california-caregivers_pasadena.jpg></td></tr><tr><td class=postcap>The California Caregivers Association has opened a medical marijuana dispensary in the Pasadena...</td></tr></table>PASADENA - Claiming that it is operating illegally, officials tried late last week to shut down a recently opened medical marijuana dispensary in an unincorporated county area.

"It is a high priority," Los Angeles County Counsel Rick Weiss said, "and will be pursued vigorously."

In June 2005, the Board of Supervisors unanimously ap- proved a moratorium banning such dispensaries. This past June, an ordinance was passed requiring the businesses to obtain a conditional-use permit in addition to a business license to open.

A handmade cardboard sign with a smiley face welcomes visitors to the dispensary, located just outside Pasadena city limits on East Colorado Boulevard.

The smell of burning marijuana wafted heavily into the stairwell from behind an armed guard who opened the door.

"We have to protect our patients," he said, explaining his sidearm.

Pasadena police Chief Bernard Melekian was angered that his department was not notified by the county when the establishment opened.

"What I think is really unfortunate about this," he said, "is that it never registered on \ conscience to alert the city 150 yards off of the opening of such a business. We found out about through a second party."

Repeated calls to the business, called California Compassionate Caregivers according to Weedtrackers.com, a Web site dedicated to medical marijuana use, went unanswered.

Owners of the business at 3682 E. Colorado Blvd. sparred with a county zoning inspector last week, Weiss said, saying they opened in May before the new ordinance went into effect.

"They may argue that," said Weiss, "but even if they opened in May, we believe that they did not open legally because the moratorium was still in effect then."

Weiss said county staff issued the business a violation notice Thursday.

If its owners fail to comply, court action will be pursued, part of which may require a temporary restraining order.

"If they pack up and leave we may not have to do anything," he said.

Otherwise, Melekian said it was apparent from experiences within Pasadena city limits that "medical marijuana clinics are a sham."

"That's not to say that there is not a medical use for marijuana," he said, "because I believe there is. I just don't think these clinics fill that need. If society wants to legalize marijuana, I wish they would just do it."

The new dispensary adds to the controversy surrounding such establishments, which have appeared in area cities including Monrovia, Monterey Park and Rowland Heights, since the passage of Proposition 215 in 1996 created a exemption from criminal penalties for medical use of marijuana.

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Pot shop shut down by county officials

Postby palmspringsbum » Thu Nov 09, 2006 3:47 pm

The Pasadena Star-News wrote:Pot shop shut down by county officials

By Mary Frances Gurton Staff Writer
Pasadena Star-News
Article Launched:11/08/2006 12:58:34 AM PST

PASADENA - The San Gabriel Valley's latest medical marijuana dispensary closed its doors this week after receiving notice of a permit violation from county officials.

"This is a bitter sweet good bye!" wrote a representative of California Compassionate Caregivers on Weedtracker.com, a Web site dedicated to medical marijuana use. "We put our heart and soul and truly wanted to make a difference but we failed you. We wanted to serve The City of Hope and its cancer patients. We wanted to help the AIDS center located by us."

The Web post goes on to say the outlet was "ordered to close immediately Nov. 6 and \ have no choice but to comply."

Late last week, county officials issued a violation notice to the dispensary at 3682 W. Colorado Blvd. in an unincorporated area just outside Pasadena.

The notice stated the establishment possessed neither a business license nor a conditional use permit, both required since a moratorium approved unanimously in June 2005 by the County Board of Supervisor was lifted in June 2006, according to officials.

Tuesday afternoon, a smiley face sign welcoming visitors to the dispensary remained, but at the top of the stairs a new handmade sign stated simply on plain white paper, "Sorry, we are closed."

Calls to the business late Tuesday went unanswered.

Owners of the establishment initially sparred with a county zoning inspector, Los Angeles County Counsel Rick Weiss said, claiming they opened in May before the new ordinance went into effect.

"They may argue that," Weiss said, "but even if they opened in May, we believe that they did not open legally because the moratorium was still in effect then."

The new dispensary adds to the controversy surrounding such establishments, which have appeared in area cities including Monrovia, Monterey Park and Rowland Heights since passage of Proposition 215 in 1996 created an exemption from criminal penalties for medical marijuana use.

Pasadena police Chief Bernard Melekian said it was apparent from experiences within Pasadena city limits that such dispensaries are often a sham.

"That's not to say that there is not a medical use for marijuana,because I believe there is," . "I just don't think these clinics fill that need. If society wants to legalize marijuana, I wish they would just do it."

County officials said they remain concerned about such clinics' practices.

"This operator is attempting to circumvent county laws," said Tony Bell, spokesman for county Supervisor Michael Antonovich.

he has said mary.gurton@sgvn.com

(626) 578-6300, Ext. 4461

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Growing pains

Postby palmspringsbum » Thu Nov 09, 2006 7:18 pm

Pasadena Weekly wrote:Growing pains

<b>County officials move on police complaints about noncompliant medical pot dispensary just outside Pasadena city limits</b>

By Justin Chapman
The Pasadena Weekly
November 9, 2006

<table class=posttable align=right width=300><tr><td class=postcell><img class=postimg width=300 src=bin/california-compassionate-caregivers.jpg></td></tr></table>The San Gabriel Valley's only medical marijuana dispensary is under fire from LA County Supervisor Mike Antonovich and Pasadena police who say the operation is out of compliance with recently passed laws banning new dispensaries.

Paul Novak, planning and land use deputy for Antonovich, said the supervisor "has directed our staff, regional planning, the sheriff, and county counsel to pursue code enforcement and take action against the property.

"He has directed our attorney to investigate what legal options are available to close them down. It's a very high priority because this clinic did not apply for any permit from the county despite being legally required to do so," Novak said.

Pasadena Police Chief Bernard Melekian had expressed frustration because he said the county didn't notify local police when the dispensary first opened in the last week of October, but Assistant County Counsel Richard Weiss said it happened the other way around. The county was first made aware of it by the Pasadena police.

One patient who works near the dispensary expressed disappointment at the prospect of the club shutting down. "It's just so convenient and the next closest dispensary is in Silver Lake. Where am I supposed to go?" said Ryan Gerlin, who declined to say what illness he treats with medical marijuana.

After clubs were closed down in nearby Monrovia and Monterey Park, advocates and patients were closely watching how authorities would handle California Compassionate Caregivers, located at 3682 E. Colorado Blvd., just outside Pasadena city limits in unincorporated East Pasadena.

In order to comply with county regulations, the owners of the dispensary were supposed to file for a business license and a conditional use permit, which is a month-long process that requires notice, a staff report, an environmental review and a public hearing, said Weiss.

Weiss also said he doesn't think there's anything the operators of the dispensary can do to stay open and that they may ultimately face criminal prosecution.

"It's our position that they are subject to this requirement and they have no legal authority to operate right now," he told the Weekly. "I don't believe the county's inclined to allow them to operate. If they want to apply for a CUP, they have a right to do that, but I don't think they can bootstrap their operation by shooting first and asking questions later."

On Wednesday, the dispensary appeared to be closed. Although it's not within city limits, the Pasadena police have jurisdiction if it affects the quality of life of people within city limits, according to department spokeswoman Janet Pope-Givens.

"We tend to work together with surrounding agencies on a myriad of issues all the time if it's an interest to all of us and concerns the quality of life in our communities. Chief Melekian is on record as being adamantly opposed to medical marijuana dispensaries. He has contacted the LA County Board of Supervisors who are looking into the legitimacy of this operation," she said.

"We only found out about this late last week and we're evaluating it," said Weiss. "One thing's for sure; we will be vigorously pursuing them. Somebody who violates our zoning code like this is subject to both criminal prosecution and civil court proceedings."

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Getting tough on pot outlets

Postby palmspringsbum » Mon Nov 13, 2006 9:02 pm

The Pasadena Star-News wrote:Getting tough on pot outlets

<span class=postbigbold>Local dispensaries facing strict codes </span>

By Mary Frances Gurton Staff Writer
Pasadena Star-News
Article Launched:11/12/2006 10:31:44 PM PST

PASADENA - Here, near the 10th anniversary of voter-approved medicinal marijuana in California, the going is rough for purveyors in the San Gabriel Valley. The two latest dispensaries opened and quickly shut down due to county permit violations.

"Medical functions belong in a medical facility to protect the public as well as patients," said Tony Bell, spokesman for county Supervisor Michael Antonovich. "We believe these current operators' intention is to circumvent the law. We have to be vigilant, and our office will pursue every legal avenue \."

County code mandates that medicinal marijuana dispensaries possess a business license and conditional-use permit, both required since a moratorium approved unanimously in June 2005 by the Board of Supervisors was lifted in June of this year, officials said.

On Wednesday, Alternative Caregivers of Pasadena closed shop after receiving a violation notice from county officials.

"They were conducting a medical marijuana dispensary without a conditional use permit first being obtained," said Alex Garcia with the county's regional planning department.

A hand-made sign posted on the door Thursday told patrons the dispensary, located in an unobtrusive office building at 3868 E. Colorado Blvd., was closed.

Two blocks away and a day earlier, another outlet called California Compassionate Caregivers, this one at 3682 E. Colorado Blvd., also closed shop.

The owners alerted customers with a similar sign, as well as placing a farewell notice on Weedtracker.com, a Web site dedicated to medical marijuana.

"We put our heart and soul and truly wanted to make a difference, but we failed you," reads the Web posting. "We wanted to serve The City of Hope and its cancer patients. We wanted to help the AIDS center located by us."

Los Angeles County Counsel Rick Weiss said letters were sent to the owners of both properties informing them permits were required.

Weiss said the requirements were set up not to discourage them, but to ensure they operate appropriately.

In Pasadena, a city zoning code amendment permanently banning the dispensaries was approved in September 2005, despite an outcry from advocates, said city spokeswoman Ann Erdman.

"People who advocated for medical marijuana packed the hearing room," she recalled, "but \ decided it should prohibit use in Pasadena because a lot of people try to circumvent laws."

"It's easy to essentially buy a prescription off the Internet," she added, "and there is no requirement at the clinics for patients to show they have glaucoma or whatever legitimate illness they may claim."

But William Dolphin, a spokesman for Safe Access for America, a medicinal marijuana advocacy group, insisted that despite such claims, the 200,000 people considered to be in need of the drug should be able to readily obtain the information and medicine they need.

"\ is the most widely used recreational drug in the world," William Dolphin said. "There hasn't been much of a problem getting it on the black market. We're concerned about people who need to know about it and where to get it."

An exemption from criminal penalties for medical marijuana use created by Proposition 215, or the Compassionate Use Act, approved in November 1996 by 56 percent of voters, lies at the root of the controversy; the issue has arisen statewide and in surrounding communities including Monrovia, Monterey Park and Rowland Heights.

In fact, since the proposition passed, two dozen cities and seven counties - including Los Angeles, Riverside and Santa Barbara - have approved regulations allowing the dispensaries. However, three times as many municipalities have passed moratoriums or banned cannabis clubs outright, according to published reports.

And despite considerable interest in its use for treatment of glaucoma, AIDS-related conditions, neuropathic pain, spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis, and chemotherapy-induced nausea, the FDA has not approved marijuana for medical use in the United States.

Despite federal law, possession and sale of marijuana is carried out in approximately 250 outlets statewide, having proliferated in the last decade.

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WeHo demonstrators protest pot raids

Postby palmspringsbum » Thu Jan 18, 2007 4:00 pm

The Los Angeles Times wrote:WeHo demonstrators protest pot raids

By Tami Abdollah
Times Staff Writer
The Los Angeles Times
11:25 AM PST, January 18, 2007

About 100 people demonstrated outside West Hollywood City Hall this morning, protesting a series of federal raids that shut 11 outlets for medical marijuana in the county.

According to William Dolphin, a spokesman for Americans for Safe Access, the demonstration began about 8:30 a.m. and lasted for some 30 minutes.

Federal agents Wednesday raided the 11 medical marijuana outlets in Los Angeles County, seizing several thousand pounds of processed drug, hundreds of marijuana plants, an array of guns and bagfuls of cash.

The simultaneous raids, part of an investigation by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, were the largest such operation in the county in recent memory. Five dispensaries in West Hollywood were raided with the other six in Venice, Hollywood, Sherman Oaks and Woodland Hills.

The action by federal agents angered some local officials and was taken despite a state law permitting possession and cultivation of marijuana for qualified medical patients.

Officials said that more than 20 people were detained for questioning but no charges have been filed. Authorities would not release information about any other people possibly detained at the dispensaries.

Sarah Pullen, spokeswoman for the DEA's Los Angeles field division, said agents seized large quantities of marijuana-laced edibles that included "anything from ice cream bars to lollipops to cookies to candies and candy bars."

In West Hollywood, agents in bulletproof vests, sunglasses, gloves and face masks piled out of the stores — four of which were on Santa Monica Boulevard — with boxes and black trash bags full of seized evidence while protesters booed and shouted, "State's rights!" and "DEA go away!" among other slogans.

At the Farmacy, agents loaded three cars with bags as amateur documentary filmmakers and medical marijuana users pushed against police tape. The raid and protest clogged traffic, and motorists honked their horns to show support for the demonstrators.

In all, Pullen said, agents seized more than 100 boxes of evidence and continued their work past 10 p.m.

West Hollywood officials said they were taken by surprise, only learning of the raids as they occurred. West Hollywood has a "long-standing commitment" to the use of medical marijuana for people with such catastrophic illnesses as HIV and AIDS, city spokeswoman Helen Goss said.

"We've been fighting to support the access of medicinal marijuana for many, many years and there's just a great disconnect between the federal government and communities like West Hollywood," Councilman Jeffrey Prang said. "Medicinal marijuana provides comfort and relief to people who are seriously ill and seemingly they view those people as drug addicts who belong in jail as opposed to people who deserve compassion and assistance."

The West Hollywood sheriff's station was notified of the impending raids about 1:30 p.m., one hour before they began, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Lt. David Smith said. Deputies moved in to help control about 50 protesters who gathered in the 7800 block of Santa Monica Boulevard near three of the stores.

California voters approved Proposition 215, the Compassionate Use Act, in 1996, which made marijuana available by prescription for medicinal uses. SB 420, which took effect in 2004, clarified Proposition 215, and taken together legalized possession and cultivation of marijuana for qualified medical patients.

According to Pullen, neighboring businesses and residents had complained about a significant number of the dispensaries, and there had been increased reports of crime in the areas around the outlets.

"Anyone in possession, selling or distributing marijuana is in violation of federal law and subject to prosecution," she said.

"There are hundreds of thousands of patients in California who need safe and reliable access to a medication that their doctors recommend they use and these raids are an example of the federal government going out of its way to interfere with the lives of patients," countered Steph Sherer, founder of Americans for Safe Access, a national advocacy group for medical marijuana use, based in Oakland.

"I think if California has a problem with our law, that our courts and our law enforcement should handle it," she said. "We have no need for the federal government to come and interfere."

The raids came on the heels of separate actions taken Tuesday by the West Hollywood City Council and the Los Angeles Police Commission.

The council Tuesday unanimously approved an ordinance establishing permanent regulations on medicinal marijuana dispensaries, capping the number in the city at four.

The Police Commission, meanwhile, voted to support a moratorium on new marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles and for tougher regulations of existing enterprises. Los Angeles Police Chief William J. Bratton pledged to work with federal authorities to prosecute businesses found to be violating the law.

Richard Eastman, a pro-medical marijuana activist who said he was diagnosed with AIDS in 1995, said he was horrified by the raids. Some of the pills he takes to fight his illness, Eastman said, "take away my appetite, but the marijuana keeps me eating."

As a result of the raids, Eastman estimated that perhaps 2,000 people who ordinarily would buy marijuana for medical purposes "won't be able to get their medicine tomorrow. And it's not like they can go to Sav-On or Thrifty."

The owner of one of the raided dispensaries said Wednesday that she was saddened that people will not be able to have the freedom of choice to use medical marijuana.

"We abide by state and local ordinances, and state laws, in providing a service to patients because they have the legal right by state Legislature to be able to make the choice of having medical marijuana as their choice of therapy," the dispensary owner said, speaking on condition of anonymity.


<hr class=postrule>
tami.abdollah@latimes.com

Times staff writer Stuart Silverstein contributed to this report.


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Pot shop to pay $500 per day to Claremont

Postby palmspringsbum » Thu Jan 18, 2007 4:11 pm

The Daily Bulletin wrote:Pot shop to pay $500 per day to Claremont

<span class=postbigbold>Dispensary fined for operating without a business license</span>

By Will Bigham, Staff Writer
Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
Article Launched: 01/18/2007 12:00:00 AM PS

CLAREMONT - City Hall has begun fining Darrell Kruse, owner of the city's medical marijuana dispensary, $500 per day for remaining open despite being found guilty last week of operating without a city-issued business license.

City officials are concurrently seeking a court injunction to force Kruse to shut down, but that effort will be withdrawn if the dispensary closes under the threat of continual steep fines, City Manager Jeff Parker said.

"For the near future I intend to stay open," Kruse said. "I have no clue how long I'll be able to remain open. I'm going to take it day to day, and probably adjust my hours to avoid the city."

By law, Claremont code enforcement officers are now visiting Kruse each business day, Monday through Friday, to confirm that the store is open before issuing the $500 fine.

On a monthly basis, Kruse will have to pay the city more than $10,000 in fines to remain operational. That money, Parker said, will be added to the city's general fund.

"I was figuring they would find a way to tax it, and they have," Kruse said.

Claremont All-Natural Nutrition Aids Buyers Information Services (CANNABIS) opened in the 600 block of South Indian Hill Boulevard in mid-September, and the city subsequently passed a moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries.

The moratorium can run no longer than two years - to September 2008 - and the city must at that time decide whether to allow and regulate dispensaries.

"We want to do it this year," Parker said. "I don't have a specific time frame yet; we haven't set one. Once the new council gets constituted and established, they will have priorities about what they want to deal with, and that is certainly one of them. When they address that will be up to them."

Sitting council members have been vague on whether they prefer to allow dispensaries in the city or ban them outright, most saying they are waiting for a report from city staff on their options.

But some candidates for the March election have already begun staking out positions, recognizing that the next council will be responsible for deciding the city's policy.

Michael Keenan, an underdog candidate who in 2005 ran and finished at the bottom of the eight-candidate field, said at last week's City Council meeting that the city should come up with a process for regulating Kruse, rather than force him to shut down.

"Why spend all the legal money on an injunction?" he asked. "Maybe we could set a good model here."

Staff writer Will Bigham can be reached by e-mail at will.bigham@dailybulletin.com, or by phone at (909) 483-8553.



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DEA raids 11 medical marijuana clinics in Los Angeles area

Postby palmspringsbum » Thu Jan 18, 2007 9:34 pm

The San Francisco Chronicle wrote:DEA raids 11 medical marijuana clinics in Los Angeles area
-
Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The San Francisco Chronicle
(01-17) 23:06 PST Los Angeles (AP) --


Federal drug agents raided nearly a dozen medical marijuana clinics Wednesday, seizing several thousand pounds of processed marijuana, along with weapons and money, authorities said.

Several people were detained, although no arrests were made after five dispensaries in West Hollywood and six others in Venice, Hollywood and the San Fernando Valley were searched, said Sarah Pullen, a spokeswoman with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

Pullen declined to provide details of the investigation, saying the search warrants remained under seal. "But obviously we are looking for marijuana and other illegal drugs, marijuana edibles and evidence of ongoing criminal activity and anything from paperwork to documents -- you name it," Pullen said.

Officials in West Hollywood said they were surprised by the action, learning of the raid as it was happening.

West Hollywood spokeswoman Helen Goss said the city has a "long-standing commitment" to the use of medical marijuana for people suffering from illnesses like HIV and AIDS.

Agents in bulletproof vests, gloves and face masks left a West Hollywood storefront with boxes and trash bags filled, as about 50 protesters booed and shouted "states' rights."

At one dispensary, The Farmacy on Santa Monica Boulevard, amateur videographers and others mobbed officers filling three cars with evidence.

California voters approved Proposition 215, the Compassionate Use Act in 1996, which made marijuana available by prescription for medicinal uses. The DEA, which does not recognize California laws legalizing medical marijuana use, has recently stepped up its enforcement.

"Today's enforcement operations show that these establishments are nothing more than drug-trafficking organizations bringing criminal activities to our neighborhoods and drugs near our children and schools," said Ralph W. Partridge, head of the DEA in Los Angeles.

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DEA Makes Major Move Against LA Dispensaries

Postby palmspringsbum » Fri Jan 19, 2007 2:48 pm

The Drug War Chronicle wrote:<span class=postbold>Drug War Chronicle - world’s leading drug policy newsletter</span>

Feature: DEA Makes Major Move Against Los Angeles Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

from Drug War Chronicle, Issue #469, 1/19/07

Agents of the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) raided 11 Los Angeles County medical marijuana dispensaries Wednesday, including five in the city of West Hollywood, where supportive officials have been working with store owners to responsibly regulate their operations. The raids mark a departure from recent DEA actions in the state, which for the most part this year have targeted dispensaries in areas where local officials are unsupportive of or even hostile to medical marijuana.

DEA agents dressed in SWAT-style attire seized several thousand pounds of processed marijuana, bagsful of cash, guns, and hundreds of marijuana plants. Agents detained 20 people, but none have so far been charged with any crime. It was the largest DEA swoop in the county in recent memory.

The DEA raiders were greeted yesterday by dozens of protestors chanting "DEA Go Away" and "States' Rights" along Santa Monica Boulevard, where four of the raided dispensaries sit in a five-block stretch. Thursday morning, about 100 people gathered at West Hollywood city hall to protest the assault on the state's medical marijuana law.

DEA post-raid publicity photoCalifornia voters approved the use of medical marijuana in a 1996 initiative, but the federal government has never accepted that law. Wednesday's raids were only the latest skirmish in an ongoing battle that has seen dozens dispensaries raided this year. Unlike raids in places like Modesto, Riverside County, and San Diego, where recalcitrant local law enforcement worked hand in glove with the feds, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department did not participate, except to provide crowd control for anticipated expressions of public displeasure, and was not even informed of the raids until shortly before they took place.

"It's outrageous that we have a situation where the voters have spoken, the legislature has spoken, the courts have affirmed it, local officials are regulating it, and then the DEA comes in and says 'we know better,'" said William Dolphin, communications director for the medical marijuana defense group Americans for Safe Access, which helped organize the Wednesday and Thursday protests. "This is not how a democracy is supposed to work, and it is a terrible problem for patients. They say they aren't targeting patients, but they're doing everything they can to shut off their access to their medicine, and they're taking a page from the terrorists' handbook by simultaneously hitting a bunch of places to create an atmosphere of pervasive fear."

Medical marijuana activists were not the only people upset by the raids. The West Hollywood city council, which supports the state's medical marijuana law, had only the night before introduced an ordinance establishing permanent regulations for the dispensaries. It was thus little surprise that council members reacted testily.

"The state of California voted to allow marijuana for medical purposes," said West Hollywood city council member Abbe Land. "The City of West Hollywood along with other cities across the state have established regulations to govern the dispensing of medical marijuana, so that people whose lives depend on this drug can be assured of safe access to their medicine. The DEA should spend their time going after dispensaries that are not operating in accordance with local ordinances, as well as unscrupulous doctors who write illegitimate prescriptions," she continued.

"Today's actions again demonstrate the skewed priorities of the Bush administration and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration," said West Hollywood City Council Member Jeffrey Prang. "Providing safe access to medical marijuana for those living with serious and often painful illnesses such as HIV/AIDS, cancer and other terminal diseases is something this city supports. We have worked closely with our community to insure these establishments operate safely and comply with the spirit of Proposition 215 adopted by the voters of California."

The DEA couldn't care less. For the agency, marijuana is illegal, period. For the feds, the raids are not about stopping people from getting their medicine, but about crime, or at least so they say. "Today's enforcement operations show that these establishments are nothing more than drug trafficking organizations bringing criminal activities to our neighborhoods and drugs near our children and schools," crowed DEA Acting Special Agent in Charge Ralph Partridge, as the agency displayed seized cash, candy bars, and cannabis.

"We're here to enforce the drug laws," DEA Los Angeles spokeswoman Special Agent Sarah Pullen told Drug War Chronicle Thursday. "Those were marijuana distribution centers, and the cultivation, possession, and distribution of marijuana in any form is a crime under federal law. Obviously there is a drug problem out here and there are many different types of drugs. We're working many different kinds of cases, and these raids are just one of them. We're doing our best to enforce the law."

"You certainly have to wonder if these guys don't have anything better to do," said Bruce Mirken, communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project. "They raided several places in West Hollywood, a city which is working very hard to regulate its dispensaries to ensure that they're operating properly. The DEA cannot reasonably argue that these were runaway dispensaries; they went after some of the most carefully regulated dispensaries in the state," he told the Chronicle.

"This is yet one more example of the federal government's priorities being out of whack with any respect for federalism and state's rights, let alone human decency," Mirken said. "One can only hope this will give new impetus to efforts in Congress to rein them in," he said, referring to what was known in previous years as the Hinchey-Rohrabacher amendment, which would bar the use of federal funds for raids on medical marijuana patients and providers in states where it is legal.

"That's the only good side to this," said ASA's Dolphin. "Speaker Pelosi is an outspoken defender of medical marijuana access for patients, and we have a large number of new Democrats in the House, along with some Republicans like Rohrabacher. With this new Congress, we're much closer to passing something like Hinchey-Rohrabacher. And we will definitely see much more pressure for the DEA to provide some accountability."

When asked whether the agency might be setting itself up to lose funding for raids against medical marijuana patients and providers in states where it is legal, the DEA's Pullen deferred to Washington. "That's a question for the director," she said. "We're just here to enforce the law." A Chronicle call to DEA director Karen Tandy's office has so far gone unreturned.

With the Justice Department and the DEA feeling emboldened since last year's Supreme Court decision in Raich, it may be that the only way to bring an end to the raids is to adopt a tactic increasingly bruited about in discussions of ending the war in Iraq: Cut off the funds.

<i>Advocates will demonstrate against the DEA raid on Monday, January 22, noon, at 255 East Temple Street in Los Angeles, and a planning meeting will take place the preceding Saturday. Visit http://www.ASAaction.org for further information or to download a master copy of the event flyer. Visit http://www.safeaccessnow.org/article.php?id=3747 for info on supporting events happening nationwide.</i>

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Riding High

Postby palmspringsbum » Tue Jan 30, 2007 12:34 pm

Los Angeles Business Journal wrote:
RIDING HIGH

By DEBORAH CROWE - 1/26/2007
Los Angeles Business Journal Staff

With little fanfare until this month, Los Angeles County has quietly become the country’s capital of medical marijuana.

In the last two years the number of marijuana dispensaries in the county has ballooned from a relative handful to more than 200, according to most estimates.

And in the city of Los Angeles, police said, 45 such shops opened in December alone as entrepreneurs sought to beat a proposed moratorium.

Many of them have opened in strip shopping centers, typically using such names as “compassionate caregivers” or “patient collectives” – names that seldom mention marijuana.

Even the Rev. Scott Imler, who co-authored the ballot initiative that legalized medical marijuana, thinks the industry that he inadvertently helped create has gotten out of control.

“We created this beast that frankly the state and local governments have been too slow to regulate,” Imler said. “We’re a liberal state and everyone wants to bend over backwards to be compassionate and understanding and groovy. And they get taken advantage of.”

The high-profile raid of 11 marijuana dispensaries by U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents on Jan. 17 highlighted the sudden industry, as well as its shaky legal foundations: The shops are legal under Proposition 215, passed by state voters in 1996, but still illegal under federal law.

“Los Angeles has had a significant growth in the number dispensaries recently, but remember that this is the second largest (metropolitan area) in the U.S.,” said William Dolphin, communications director for the Oakland-based pro-medical marijuana group Americans for Safe Access.

So far, there isn’t a good handle on the value of the economic activity that medical marijuana generates in the county. While dispensaries pay employee taxes and some collect retail sales taxes, public agency record-keeping is sketchy given the quasi-legal status of the enterprise.

A report presented to an Oakland oversight committee last fall estimates Californians consume between $870 million and $2 billion worth of medically related marijuana each year – and anywhere from a third to a half of that is likely consumed in Los Angeles County alone, given the county’s size.

The rapid growth of the industry has taken city officials, law enforcement agencies and others by surprise. Many have started to ban or at least regulate marijuana clinics more tightly.

However, the local actions have not been enough to halt the raids by the DEA officials, who categorize the dispensaries as illegal drug selling operations – despite California law.

“Granted they’re acting under the guise of legal state law, but under current federal law they’re still drug organizations,” said Sarah Pullen, spokeswoman for the Los Angeles field office of the DEA. The agency’s Jan. 17 sweep was the first time the Los Angeles office had targeted multiple clinics at the same time.


<span class=postbigbold>Mushrooming industry</span>

California was the first of 10 states to pass a medical marijuana law. But no other metropolitan area has nearly as many marijuana storefronts as Los Angeles. The Bay Area, for example, has about 70.

Still, the medical marijuana industry got a slow start in California.

The state ballot initiative approved by voters in 1996 legalized marijuana for medical use. (Marijuana is said to help with nausea and stimulate appetite for cancer patients and others who are seriously ill.) Though not originally conceived in the law, cooperatives developed so that patients could cultivate, process and distribute marijuana among themselves.

However, in 2001 a West Hollywood cooperative that was organized by Imler was raided by federal authorities and shut down. He faced criminal charges and a possible prison sentence.

As that case made its way through the courts, the California Legislature in 2003 passed SB 420, which recognized the right of patients and caregivers to associate collectively to cultivate medical marijuana. Subsequent court decisions expanded that protection to retail-style dispensaries.

However, the industry remained stunted because of criminal cases such as Imler’s. But in 2005, Imler’s case was settled. He got one year’s probation.

Attorney John Duran, a councilman in West Hollywood who successfully defended Imler, said that once it was clear that Imler wouldn’t be heading to prison, local entrepreneurs were emboldened to launch their own clinics – despite the threat of federal raids.

The dispensaries were aided by the lack of specific regulations covering these businesses within many jurisdictions of Los Angeles County, particularly in the city of L.A. The county and many cities inside it scrambled to enact moratoriums to give them time to decide whether to regulate or ban the shops.

At least eight cities now have moratoriums in place, while Torrance and Pasadena in the past year have banned clinics. On Jan. 16, West Hollywood gave initial approval to an ordinance intended to lower the number of clinics in the city from six to four. L.A. County passed an ordinance that went into effect in June that regulates when and where the shops open.

In November, Los Angeles police officials began talking seriously about enacting a moratorium. That set off a scramble by many to open shops to beat any decision – and led to the 45 shops that opened in the city. In all, the city of Los Angeles has 148 retail-like medical marijuana shops or home-delivery services.

“Out of the chaos, that’s where the opportunists move in,” Duran said.

Dispensary owners who contend they work hard to run a reputable operation take issue with the opportunist label, though several declined to talk to the Business Journal for this story. However, one operator who opened a small dispensary north of downtown L.A. five months ago, said he pays sales taxes, is insured by Lloyd’s of London, and desires a good working relationship with the officers who patrol his neighborhood.

“This is new territory for us,” said the operator, who would only allow his first name, Ed, to be used in the wake of the DEA raids. “Everyone is very spooked right now. We are not drug dealers and we don’t want to be confused with that.”

Under state law, in order to receive medical marijuana, patients must get a doctor to provide a written recommendation – nicknamed scripts, although they’re technically not prescriptions. The scripts also give the recipients the right to legally grow marijuana for medical purposes.

For roughly $70 to $100, depending on the neighborhood, patients with a script can purchase one-eighth of an ounce of processed marijuana for personal use. They can roll a joint to smoke on premises if the dispensary offers a smoking lounge, or take it home. Many shops also offer pot-laced edibles for those unable or disinclined to smoke.

Prices at dispensaries, sometimes known as cannabis clubs, tend to be equivalent to or slightly higher than pot available on the street, with clinic owners touting the greater safety and cleanliness of their facilities.

Investigators contend that much of the marijuana sold by L.A. clinics comes from many of the same sources as what’s available on the street. It’s often imported from Canada and Mexico, Pullen said, in violation of California law that requires medical marijuana to be grown within the state.

A dispensary might pay $3,000 to $4,000 wholesale for a pound of marijuana then mark that amount up by as much as 100 percent, according to the DEA.

But clinic owners such as Ed consider the DEA’s contentions ludicrous, at least for clinics that care about their clients. Mexican pot is apt to be laced with allergy causing pesticides, he said, and Canadian weed tends to be grown indoors, producing a product that’s less potent and hence less effective for therapeutic purposes.

Instead, many clinics prefer to obtain their pot from small California suppliers, often patients themselves who have the legal right to grow it.

“In any case, why would you need to import marijuana when California has the best climate for growing anything you want,” Ed said.


<span class=postbigbold>Taking precautions</span>

However, even some patient advocates admit larger dispensaries often turn to underground growers. The DEA also believes that clinic sales to people without scripts or under false pretenses are more widespread than the clinic community acknowledges.

Ed said he drills his staff on state law and recommended codes of conduct promoted by patient advocacy group Americans for Safe Access. Clinic staff workers must independently verify new clients, Ed said, and will fax forgeries to other clinic owners as an alert, much as retail businesses do for bad check writers.

But even Ed acknowledged that more than a few bad apples have snuck into the local clinic community in recent months. He said an increasing number of clinic operators, with support from ASA, are organizing to self-police their industry using peer pressure and other means he wouldn’t specify.

Still, many law enforcement officials and community critics paint a sordid picture of the clinics as crime magnets that are often located too close to schools and parks and are too lax in screening clients. They also are apt to become targets of robberies and other crimes themselves because of their large caches of drugs and cash.

L.A. Police Chief William Bratton’s staff report to the Board of Police Commissioners in December called for a moratorium and strict operating rules. In addition, facilities would be forced to move if located within 1,000 feet of houses of worship, parks, schools and day care facilities.

But cops on the beat in communities friendly to medical marijuana tend to be circumspect when describing their relations with dispensaries. Capt. Benny Goodman, who heads the West Hollywood station of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, said a station liaison meets bi-monthly with clinic managers, who have been responsive to neighborhood complaints.

“We have not been actively pursuing these clubs as illegal places of business, but when there are complains we deal with that,” Goodman said. “We focus on the other crime priorities in the city.”

City Councilman Duran maintains that the services provided by the clinics in his community, which has a large HIV-positive population and elderly residents with various age-related ailments, make the clinics “the lesser of two evils.”

“We can have these commercial enterprises that likely sometimes provide marijuana to people they shouldn’t. Or we can have patients looking for drug dealers in the back alleys of the Sunset Strip,” he said.

<hr class=postrule>
<center><small>Los Angeles Business Journal, Copyright © 2007, All Rights Reserved. </small></center>

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Despite federal ruling, cities still prohibit clubs

Postby palmspringsbum » Sun Apr 12, 2009 9:28 am

The Camarillo Acorn wrote:Despite federal ruling, cities still prohibit marijuana clubs

By Stephanie Bertholdo and Sylvie Belmond | Acorn staff writers | April 10, 2009


Now that the discrepancy between federal and state medical marijuana laws has been resolved, cities throughout California are reexamining their stance on whether to allow local cannabis clubs permission to operate.

United States Attorney General Eric Holder announced March 18 that medical marijuana dispensaries permitted under state law would no longer be prosecuted, but according to a recent survey of mayors and other city officials, the cannabis clubs in Camarillo, Moorpark and the Conejo and Simi valleys are still not welcome.

Following the 1996 California law that decriminalized the use of medical marijuana, many local cities passed moratoriums outlawing the cannabis clubs in support of the federal government's antidrug stance.

Officials said the local prohibitions would likely remain in effect. Under California law, cities retain the right to prohibit certain businesses if they choose.

Agoura Hills Mayor Denis Weber said he was disappointed in Washington's decision to soften its stance on medical marijuana.

Thousand Oaks Mayor Tom Glancy said the use of medical marijuana may be beneficial, but that it was "far too easy to misuse."

And despite the recent federal ruling, Calabasas Mayor Jon Wolfson said his city is proposing a new ban on medical marijuana facilities.

"This is based on past public testimony at both the (Calabasas) Public Safety Commission and the Planning Commission concerning crime and safety concerns associated with such facilities," Wolfson said. "Not speaking on behalf of the council, but speaking personally, I would not support legalizing marijuana for the purposes of additional tax revenue to the city."

Camarillo's moratorium on dispensaries is coming to an end July 8, but attorney Brian Pierik said the City Council may extend the moratorium for another year. The temporary ban on Camarillo pot clubs was passed because the city's municipal code didn't address the matter, he said.

Pierik pointed out that the federal government's promise not to raid California dispensaries doesn't make pot entirely legal.

"It's still against federal law," he said. "The fact that the federal government may not enforce the law doesn't mean it's not still a law.

Only Westlake Village has taken a less punitive stance.

Mayor Robert Slavin said a marijuana dispensary could "potentially move in" as long as it complied with Westlake ordinances.

"I am a firm believer in state rights," Slavin said.

While Slavin sees the benefits of medical marijuana for people with cancer and other serious illnesses, he said he has "misgivings" about legalizing pot for all Californians. He fears it would usher in a "whole host of issues."

<span class=postbold>Tax issue remains cloudy</span>

If the California Legislature passes Assembly Bill 390, the possession, sale and cultivation of marijuana will become legal in California. The bill would open the door for pot to be taxed, which could produce windfall revenues at a time when governments are struggling to keep finances in tact.

"Certainly the legislature is trying to be creative, but there's got to be other ways than that," Parvin said.

Glancy agreed.

"That's not the way I want to fill our coffers," Glancy said.

Simi Valley Mayor Paul Miller, the city's former chief of police, thinks the proposal to legalize and tax cannabis is "absurd." He said state leaders appear to be doing things "backwards."

"If the state had been doing its job all along, we wouldn't be in this fix," Miller said regarding the budget crisis.

Simi has a moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries, and Miller doesn't envision a change, regardless of the federal ruling prohibiting raids on legal outlets.

"Legalizing marijuana won't fix the budget problems," Assemblymember Audra Strickland said. "We also need to consider the consequences that legalizing this drug would have on our children," she said.

But Moorpark City Council member Roseann Mikos thinks it's time that a marijuana tax be considered. She compared the pot issue to prohibition in the 1920s, when alcohol was outlawed.

"The prohibition was a complete failure," Mikos said. "All it did was increase organized crime."

<span class=postbold>License to carry</span>

Police officers in Moorpark often meet people—mostly college students—who are carrying medical marijuana cards, said Moorpark Police Capt. Ron Nelson.

When someone possesses a card and they have a small amount of marijuana, officers "pretty much send them on their way," Nelson said. "It just depends on the amount they have. If it's more than obvious personal use, they're subject to arrest," he said.

Nelson was critical of the ease in which people who are not sick can obtain a medical marijuana card.

"The vast majority of card holders are people who just want to use marijuana for purposes other than medicinal," he said.

As for the legalization and taxing of cannabis, Nelson doesn't endorse the idea.

"(Marijuana) is addictive and leads to the use of other drugs." But if marijuana eventually becomes legal in California, Moorpark police officers will follow the law, he said.

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All L.A. County medical pot dispensaries face prosecution

Postby palmspringsbum » Thu Oct 08, 2009 8:49 pm

The Los Angeles Times wrote:All L.A. County medical pot dispensaries face prosecution, district attorney says

The Los Angeles Times
John Hoeffel | October 8, 2009


Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley said today that all the medical marijuana dispensaries in the county are operating illegally, and that "they are going to be prosecuted."

There are hundreds of dispensaries throughout the county, including as many as 800 in the city of Los Angeles, according to the city attorney's office. They operate under a 1996 voter initiative that allowed marijuana to be used for medicial purposes, and a subsequent state law L.A. district attorney says that provided for collective cultivation.

Based on a state Supreme Court decision last year, Cooley and City Attorney Carmen Trutanich have concluded that over-the-counter sales are illegal. Most if not all of the dispensaries in the state operate on that basis.

Cooley said his office had already begun preparing to prosecute a Culver City dispensary called Organica.

Widespread criminal prosecutions could deal a sharp blow to the medical marijuana movement in California, where advocates have argued that access to the drug has helped many cancer patients and others manage pain, nausea and other health issues.

Cooley and Trutanich announced their plans after a training session for narcotics officers at the Montebello Country Club. Outside about 100 medical marijuana advocates protested, saying that not allowing over-the-counter sales threatens the distribution of a product that many sick people have come to rely on.

Barry Kramer, operator of the California Patient Alliance, a dispensary on Melrose Avenue, said, "If this is the way it goes, we'll go underground again. There will be a lot more crime."

-- John Hoeffel
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‘About 100%’ of medical marijuana dispensaries are illegal

Postby palmspringsbum » Sun Oct 11, 2009 11:51 am

the raw story wrote:Los Angeles DA: ‘About 100%’ of medical marijuana dispensaries are illegal

By Stephen C. Webster | the raw story
Saturday, October 10th, 2009 -- 2:34 pm


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

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

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

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

However, those with prescriptions for marijuana account for roughly 10 percent of the state's marijuana users, according to [url=http://www.canorml.org/background/OakZFinancialReport.pdfa California NORML report[/url](PDF link) prepared for the Oakland Civil Liberties Alliance.

"In a radio interview on KABC-AM (790), Cooley reiterated his plan to close down many of the 800 to 900 medical marijuana shops believed to be operating in the city of Los Angeles," [url=http://www.contracostatimes.com/california/ci_13529691]noted the Contra-Costa Times[/url].

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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