California, San Diego

Medical marijuana by county.

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California, San Diego

Postby palmspringsbum » Sat Apr 08, 2006 9:55 pm

The Santa Cruz Sentinel wrote:January 21, 2006


Medical pot users deal with legal setbacks

By Brian Seals
SEntinel staff writer
www.santacruzsentinel.com


Everyday about 2 p.m. Hal Margolin puts a small amount of marijuana into a pipe, then takes a few puffs.

Slowly, the pain he feels no longer preoccupies his thoughts, he says, and he can get on with his life.

"It distracts me from obsessing," said Margolin, 73.

But while his body may be taking comfort, the same can't be said of his mind.

The medical marijuana movement in California has faced setbacks during the past year. Many users say they are leery of federal raids and other challenges to state medical pot policy.

Six months after the U.S. Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling essentially saying the federal government could enforce its drug regulations even in states that have medical marijuana laws, another challenge of California's law is brewing.

On Friday, San Diego County said it would file a federal suit challenging the validity of the state's medical marijuana law that was approved by voters in 1996 under Proposition 215.

Whatever the outcome of the San Diego case, concerns are heightened among an already distraught group who use medical pot.

Since June's Supreme Court ruling, Santa Cruz County medical marijuana users say they are conserving their medicine, not knowing what the future holds.

Valerie Corral, co-founder of the Santa Cruz-based Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana, said group members are using more pharmaceutical medications instead of marijuana, which is pinching them financially.

The group has also changed the way it operates, Corral says. It no longer has a collective garden, fearful of a federal raid like one that happened in September 2002, and now individual members grow for themselves and others.

"We're asking community members to be caregivers and grow for our patients," she said.

Margolin, for example, said he has cut back to about 5 grams per week compared with up to 8 grams per week before the ruling. That means living with the pain and nausea through the morning and waiting until the afternoon to smoke, he says.

"I worry about it almost every day," Margolin said. "I don't know what we are going to do once we run out of medicine."

In November, San Diego County said it would not abide by a state identification care program mandated by state law.

That has sparked yet another debate about the state's decade-old law.

"It's the will of the people," said Corral. "Really it's just short of fascism to go around the will of the people."

San Diego County officials say they are simply seeking an order freeing them from having to comply with state law requiring counties to issue medical marijuana identification cards.

"The Board of Supervisors here did not believe the state should be mandating them to issue these cards when federal law says marijuana is illegal," said John Sansone, San Diego County counsel.

The federal Controlled Substances Act of 1970 considers marijuana to be a drug with no medicinal value.

A ruling in favor of San Diego County could apply to other jurisdictions who didn't want to follow the state's medical pot laws, he said.

The American Civil Liberties Union plans to intervene in the federal suit filed by San Diego County, said Anjuli Verma, spokeswoman with the group's Drug Law Reform Project in Santa Cruz.

"We think San Diego County is hiding behind this false fear about the identification cards because they politically disagree with medical marijuana," Verma said.

Whether it would overturn the state's law altogether — affecting places like Santa Cruz County where officials have readily accommodated patients who use pot — remains to be seen.

"It really depends on how the court is going to rule," Sansone said.

The San Diego suit names the state of California and state Department of Health Services Director Sandra Shewry.

The department had no comment on the suit, said spokeswoman Lea Brooks. The department has issued 779 medical marijuana identification cards in 15 counties, she said. That does not include Santa Cruz County, which has its own medical marijuana ID card program.

Contact Brian Seals at bseals@santacruzsentinel.com.

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Horn's time has passed

Postby palmspringsbum » Sat May 27, 2006 11:03 am

Managing to both waste taxpayer money and punish the sick in one fell swoop, Horn has led the county's misguided charge against medical marijuana. Horn pushed the county to sue the state for enforcing the provisions of Propositon 215, the 1996 Compassionate Use Act approved by a majority of California and San Diego County voters. Horn could have chosen to quietly ignore the state mandates; instead, he chose an expensive legal crusade.

The North County Times wrote:Saturday, May 27, 2006
Last modified Friday, May 26, 2006 8:32 PM PDT



Horn's time has passed

By: North County Times - Editorial

<b>Our View:</b> Fifth District voters should elect Bruce Thompson for a change

In light of the lackluster challenge being offered by Bruce Thompson, it appears that the race for San Diego County's 5th District is Supervisor Bill Horn's to lose. A recent string of troubling developments suggests he's intent on doing just that. Horn's leadership has failed North County of late. We're convinced it's time for new blood on the San Diego County Board of Supervisors.

Voters in District 5 should thank Horn for his efforts and wish him well ---- while electing Bruce Thompson to replace him.

Pension giveaway


Horn and his fellow supervisors point to the stability they have brought to the county's finances as their greatest accomplishment. They deserve some credit ---- the county's ledgers look sterling compared with the city of San Diego's, they're fond of pointing out. But the supervisors have done it on the backs of our children and those who need county services ---- essentially the poorest and sickest among us.

In February 2002, Horn voted with a unanimous Board of Supervisors to lavish more than $1 billion worth of increased retirement benefits on county workers. Horn chose to knuckle under to a powerful public-employee union and created an unfunded pension-debt liability that was about $1.4 billion at last count. Our kids will be stuck with that bill. In the mean time, county services for children and the mentally ill have suffered.

Escondido gets the shaft


We hold a grudge that some North County voters ---- those in Escondido ---- won't get to vote in the Fifth District election, thanks to Horn. He jettisoned them from his district in 2001 with a classic gerrymander that struck at two rivals: Horn took the wealthy campaign donors of Rancho Santa Fe from Supervisor Pam Slater-Price in return for Escondido, a city that voted for Horn's 1998 opponent, Escondido's Jerry Harmon. Escondido has suffered for lack of attention, and North County has seen its political power diminished by division.

Misdirecting deputies


Horn also wants to reassign sheriff's deputies to border-enforcement duty, against the wise counsel of Sheriff Bill Kolender. Kolender recognizes that his already stretched-thin deputies have enough to do without taking on what should be a federal responsibility. But Horn is so far out on this limb that he doesn't just want county deputy sheriffs checking for citizenship in the Vista jail; he wants them checking for immigration status anytime someone's pulled over for any infraction ---- all passengers in a car, not just a driver. Never mind Kolender's objections; the U.S. Constitution would squash this dangerous expansion of police powers.

Grandstanding on our dime


Managing to both waste taxpayer money and punish the sick in one fell swoop, Horn has led the county's misguided charge against medical marijuana. Horn pushed the county to sue the state for enforcing the provisions of Propositon 215, the 1996 Compassionate Use Act approved by a majority of California and San Diego County voters. Horn could have chosen to quietly ignore the state mandates; instead, he chose an expensive legal crusade.

Substandard housing


But these missteps haven't even been what's landing Horn on Page 1 lately. On Friday afternoon, Horn welcomed reporter Gig Conaughton onto his Valley Center ranch in order to prove that his ranch hands were legal citizens. There we learned those ranch hands were living in a ramshackle shack lacking a septic system and county permits. Though the men lived on his property for at least five years in violation of the rules of the county he supervises, Horn said he "hadn't gotten around to" getting the necessary permits.

Horn is a multimillionaire who owns apartments and homes across North County. He knows the rules that were broken on his own ranch. But he didn't try to lead the county in relaxing restrictions for farmworker housing; he just ignored the law until he got caught doing so.

Sweetheart deal for chief of staff


He treated the state's rules about reporting economic interests the same way ---- this time, to give an employee a much better housing deal. In 2004, he cut a sweetheart deal with his chief of staff, Joan Wonsley, on a Carlsbad home he owns, though both failed to report it on state-required paperwork. Horn bought the six-bedroom, 5 1/2-bath Carlsbad home in 2003 for roughly $850,000, and Horn's wife, Kathleen, almost immediately surrendered her rights to the property, making Horn the sole owner. Then, in 2004, Wonsley gave Horn $349,000 to let her live in the house, along with an agreement to pay the now-million-dollar home's $2,733 monthly mortgage payment.

In entering into a separate financial relationship with Wonsley, Horn at least exposed the county to a huge potential legal liability. But Horn still refuses to release key documents that should explain the deal, and he reported the odd arrangement only under pressure at a public meeting. When he tried to convince us the deal was aboveboard, he fudged again, claiming that the county counsel had approved the deal before it was consummated, Instead, the county's top lawyer vetted the deal only after the media pounced on the story.

North County voters can't help but question Horn's integrity in light of these troubling developments.

A credible challenger


Bill Horn has contributed much to North County in his three terms representing the 5th District. He has been a consistent advocate for efficient government and our roads, housing and property rights. He helped right the county's fiscal ship after the rough waters of the 1990s. Horn has battled on behalf of fellow farmers and fought for a San Luis Rey River Park that will be a crown jewel of North County's preserved spaces.

But Bruce Thompson poses a solid challenge. A three-term Republican assemblyman, Thompson has most recently served in a local office of the Small Business Administration. In the Assembly, his peers elected him chairman of the Republican Caucus. On most issues, Thompson's positions appear to differ little from Horn's.

Thompson leapt into the race to slow growth at the planned development near the intersection of Interstate 15 and Highway 76. Thompson argues for limiting the "old Hewlett-Packard site" to about 900 homes, even less than the 1,300-home limit advocated by a Fallbrook advisory planning group. Noting that it's inappropriate to comment on items that haven't come before the board yet, Horn hasn't tipped his hand how he'll vote; county planners have envisioned letting developers build up to 1,700 homes there.

But to say that Thompson has run on the issues would be to miss the central, often the only, theme of his challenge: He's not Bill Horn. Especially lately, that's a winning message.

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Statues governing medical marijuana core of the issue

Postby palmspringsbum » Tue Jun 13, 2006 6:47 pm

The San Diego Union-Tribune wrote:Statutes governing medical marijuana core of the issue

By Leslie Wolf Branscomb
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
June 10, 2006

San Diego County's lawsuit against state medical marijuana laws will be allowed to proceed, a Superior Court judge ruled yesterday.

The county Board of Supervisors voted late last year to sue the state over its laws that permit the use of medical marijuana and require counties to issue identification cards to users. The county contends that those laws are in direct conflict with federal drug laws prohibiting any possession or use of marijuana.

The county is also suing the San Diego chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, or NORML, because it threatened to sue the county if the supervisors didn't begin implementing the state law that requires the identification cards and a database of users to be created and maintained by the county.

Many California counties are complying with the identification card law, which went into effect in 2004. That statute was enacted because controversy had arisen over who was allowed to possess medical marijuana, which was legalized by state voters when they passed the Compassionate Use Act 10 years ago.

But two counties, San Bernardino and Merced, have joined in the San Diego County lawsuit, seeking clarification as to whether federal laws pre-empt state laws.

Senior Deputy County Counsel Thomas Bunton argued that local governments may challenge state laws that are in conflict with federal statutes.

“The state has taken the position that those are legitimate laws,” Bunton said. “The county has taken the position that those laws are unenforceable.”

The defendants had asked the case be dismissed, saying there weren't sufficient legal grounds to sue, and the time wasn't right because there was no “imminent harm” to the county.

Superior Court Judge William R. Nevitt Jr. disagreed. After hearing arguments from four of the five lawyers involved in the case, Nevitt ruled that the case should proceed.

In his ruling, Nevitt said the county is not precluded from challenging state law. He also ruled that the merits of the county's claims were not at issue at this time – only whether the case had reason to go forward.

The defendants have 10 days to file a response.

After the hearing, medical marijuana advocates vowed to continue fighting.

Mark Bluemel, a lawyer for NORML, said NORML shouldn't even be a party to the suit. People should be able to question the supervisors without being sued, he said.

“The county is really hurting the patients,” Bluemel added. “It's picking and choosing what laws it wants to follow.”

Kris Hermes of the Oakland-based Americans for Safe Access said his group will join in the lawsuit on behalf of medical marijuana-using patients.

“We're confident the federal law does not pre-empt the state's medical marijuana law, that's the bottom line,” Hermes said.


Leslie Branscomb: (619) 498-6630; leslie.branscomb@uniontrib.com


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15 held in raids on pot stores

Postby palmspringsbum » Fri Jul 07, 2006 5:39 pm

The San Diego Union Tribune wrote:15 held in raids on pot stores

Medical marijuana profiteers targeted

By Jeff McDonald
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
July 7, 2006


<table class=posttable align=right width=300><tr><td class=postcell><img class=postimg src=bin/sandiego_dea_raid.jpg></td></tr><tr><td class=postcap>Drug agents cited these examples of marijuana for sale at storefront dispensaries in the county. Some dispensaries were raided Thursday. </td></tr></table>With dozens of medical marijuana dispensaries doing a brisk business across San Diego County, and many patients showing no signs of serious illness, state and federal prosecutors decided they had seen enough.

Yesterday they conducted a multi-agency sweep that snared what officials said were the worst offenders: dealers capitalizing on California's loosely drawn medical marijuana law to make a profit.

The pot dispensaries have become “magnets for crime in San Diego,” Police Chief William Lansdowne said. The operators “have taken the compassionate use of marijuana and convoluted it into a million-dollar business.”

Drug agents showed up at dispensaries in La Jolla, Ocean Beach, North Park and elsewhere across the city, detaining patients, running warrant checks on employees and arresting previously identified dispensary owners.

Of the 15 people arrested, six face federal charges related to a grand jury indictment handed down late Wednesday, and 10 were charged by county prosecutors. One suspect, John Sullivan, 38, of San Diego, faces both federal and state charges.

“Their motive was not to better society,” U.S. Attorney Carol Lam said at a news conference announcing the arrests. “But rather to make a profit by breaking the law.”

Prosecutors took the unusual step of filing official complaints with the California Medical Board against four physicians who they said sell an inordinate number of recommendations for medical marijuana.

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that doctors cannot be targeted for recommending that their patients use marijuana.

The raids followed a December sweep by the same joint-agency narcotics task force. In that sweep, agents confiscated equipment and thousands of patient records but made no arrests.

Investigators said much of the information seized then helped form the case that unfolded with Wednesday's grand jury indictments and yesterday's raids.

District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis said her office decided not to target legitimate medical marijuana patients, who are protected under state law but remain vulnerable to prosecution under federal drug statutes.

<table class=posttable align=right width=200><tr><td class=postcap>Update

SAN DIEGO – Narcotics detectives Friday were their investigation into marijuana dispensaries that they said were illegally selling the drug under the guise of medicinal purposes.

Fourteen people have been arrested. Seven people are still wanted, two of whom are negotiating their surrender through their attorneys, investigators said.

Authorities raided several distribution centers on Thursday and served 21 search warrants simultaneously throughout the city.

During the searches, San Diego police narcotics detectives and members of the federal Drug Enforcement Administration's San Diego Integrated Narcotic Task Force seized several marijuana plants and packages of the drug, and candy bars, cookies, ice cream and other products laced with the drug.

Authorities said Friday that they also confiscated unspecified amounts of cocaine, intoxicating mushrooms, hashish and ecstasy; thousands of dollars in cash; and several weapons, including a stolen .38-caliber pistol and an M-16 rifle.

<hr>
Breaking News Team: (619) 293-1010; breaking@uniontrib.com
</td></tr></table>Rather, she said, her office was singling out dispensaries that indiscriminately sell marijuana to anyone who can produce a physician's recommendation.

“We support (medical marijuana) wholeheartedly, but Proposition 215 is being severely abused,” Dumanis said. “It's just really gotten out of hand. . . . Those of us in law enforcement have tolerated it for too long.”

Many dispensaries charge up to $80 for an eighth-ounce of the highest grade marijuana and sell marijuana-laced candy bars and lollipops and other products that prosecutors say are attractive to children.

The prosecutors said dispensary operators make thousands of dollars a day, selling largely to young people with no apparent medical conditions.

Undercover agents said they witnessed people buying marijuana time and again and then sharing it with friends just outside.

Patient records confiscated during the December raids showed that 72 percent of patients were between 17 and 40 years old, federal prosecutors said.

Nearly 63 percent of caregivers, who under state law can obtain marijuana for people too sick to get it for themselves, were between 18 and 30.

The seized records also showed that barely 2 percent of patients reported having AIDS, glaucoma or cancer. Instead, almost 98 percent used marijuana to relieve muscle spasms, insomnia, back and neck pain, headaches and other less-serious ailments.

The yearlong investigation showed that some dispensaries had sales gimmicks such as “Free Doobie Monday” and discounts for frequent customers. Many of the dispensaries identified by investigators were not part of yesterday's raid, but Dumanis put them squarely on notice.

“We've raided some of you today,” she said. “We'll raid the rest of you if you do not cease and desist. We'll raid you again and again.”

News of the raids spread quickly across the city and state. Most of the storefront dispensaries closed quickly. “Mobile dispensaries” or delivery services stopped answering their telephones and their operators were unavailable for interviews.

Internet message boards sizzled with news and rumors about the sweeps.

One posting said, “I never knew that compassion was illegal.” Another appeared to support the action: “Hopefully this is just another set of raids to get rid of the fake dispensaries.”

San Diego County has been at the forefront of the medical marijuana movement for several years.

In 2003, San Diego became the largest city in the nation to adopt guidelines for sick and dying patients who grow and use the drug, acts that were made legal when California voters passed Proposition 215 in 1996.

But the county Board of Supervisors sued the state earlier this year to try to overturn the law, even though a majority of the county's voters supported the initiative. Public officials in San Bernardino and Merced counties have joined the suit, which is pending in state court.

The selling of marijuana in storefronts not only concerns law enforcement and political leaders, but has also divided medical marijuana activists, many of whom argue that the storefronts do more harm than good.

Jerry Meier, chairman of the volunteer task force that drafted San Diego's medical marijuana guidelines, said dispensaries have been a problem since they began setting up shop in large numbers about two years ago.

“I see a lot of the dispensaries as nothing more than profiteers who are taking advantage of the work the task force did,” Meier said. “The task force has always said the dispensaries at the very least should have some sort of regulation.”

But Bruce Mirken of the Marijuana Policy Project, a San Francisco advocacy group, said authorities should not punish all dispensaries.

“Many patients are not in a position to grow and have no person that can act as a caregiver,” he said. “There's no reason someone shouldn't be able to go to a reliable source and buy their medicine like they would with any prescription or over-the-counter drug.”

Only one of the suspects arrested by federal agents – Sullivan – actually ran dispensaries.

The other five men were accused of one count each of conspiracy to distribute marijuana and conspiracy to manufacture marijuana. They were Wayne Hudson, 42; Christopher Larkin, 34; Ross McManus, 39; and Michael Ragin, 34, all of San Diego; and Scott Wright, 40, of La Mesa.

If convicted, they could face up to 40 years in prison.

County prosecutors charged Sullivan and nine others: Ahmad Abdul-Jaiil, 21; Anthony Armine, 33; Aaron Ballenger, 21; William Burd, 29; Stephen Harding, 37; Christopher Jessie, 22; Jason Kaufmann, 30; Raphael Mijares, 35; and Daniel Stansfield, 30, all of San Diego.

Those defendants face charges of selling marijuana and possession for sale, with penalties ranging up to four years in state prison.


<hr>

Jeff McDonald: (619) 542-4585; jeff.mcdonald@uniontrib.com


Patient records confiscated during the December raids showed that 72 percent of patients were between 17 and 40 years old, federal prosecutors said.

So?

The seized records also showed that barely 2 percent of patients reported having AIDS, glaucoma or cancer. Instead, almost 98 percent used marijuana to relieve muscle spasms, insomnia, back and neck pain, headaches and other less-serious ailments.

So?
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Medical marijuana dispensaries charged with drug trafficking

Postby palmspringsbum » Fri Jul 07, 2006 6:19 pm

The Mercury News wrote:Posted on Thu, Jul. 06, 2006

Medical marijuana dispensaries charged with drug trafficking

ALLISON HOFFMAN
Associated Press
The Mercury News

SAN DIEGO - Federal prosecutors accused six people Thursday of illegally trafficking pot under the cover of California's medical marijuana laws - in some cases processed into baked goods, "Reefer's" peanut butter cups and "Splif" peanut butter.

Federal and state search warrants were executed at more than 11 locations throughout San Diego in a morning raid, and at least five people were arrested, authorities said. Federal charges were expected to be filed Friday, according to U.S. Attorney Carol Lam.

"They made thousands of dollars every day," Lam said. "Their motive was not the betterment of society. Their motive was profit."

One federal indictment accuses John Sullivan, 38, of growing more than 100 marijuana plants for distribution and distributing marijuana or processed marijuana-based goods from his two dispensaries, the Purple Bud Room in Pacific Beach and THC in San Diego.

Five managers of the Co-op San Diego were indicted separately on similar allegations. Wayne Hudson, 42; Christopher Larkin, 34; and Ross McManus, 39, are alleged to have distributed marijuana products through the co-op. Scott Wright, 40, and Michael Ragin, 34, are accused of growing hundreds of plants for the co-op at their homes.

Messages left at the dispensaries were not immediately returned.

Also, the San Diego County District Attorney has filed state charges against one of the men named in the federal indictment and nine others for selling marijuana and possessing marijuana for sale.

State charges were filed against Sullivan's THC dispensary and four other independent operations in San Diego. Prosecutors alleged that these dispensaries sold marijuana or marijuana-based products with little concern for legitimate medical need.

"The party is over," District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis said at a news conference with federal prosecutors. She added that Proposition 215, the ballot measure that legalized marijuana for medical purposes, has been "severely abused by neighborhood pot dealers opening up storefronts."

Complaints from residents living near dispensaries precipitated an investigation beginning in September 2005 by the San Diego police, the county sheriff's department, the Drug Enforcement Administration, Dumanis said.

Dumanis said that her office has "no intention" of preventing people who suffer chronic illnesses like AIDS, glaucoma or cancer from using medically prescribed marijuana to ease their pain.

But San Diego County has fought an ongoing battle to limit the impact of the medical marijuana law, which was approved in 1996 by 55 percent of voters.

San Diego has ignored a state requirement that counties issue identification cards to registered medical marijuana users and maintain a registry of people who apply for the cards.

In December, county supervisors sued the state of California and its director of health services in federal court, saying federal law that prohibits marijuana use trumps the state law. The county moved that lawsuit to state court in February to avoid bringing the case to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which has sided in recent rulings with medical marijuana supporters. That suit is still pending.

The men indicted by the federal grand jury face a maximum of 40 years in prison and $2 million in fines for each of the allegations listed in the indictment, authorities said.

The San Diego County District Attorney's office released a complaint sent last week to the state medical board against four physicians alleging that they wrote "recommendations" for medical marijuana use - doctor's notes required by state law - to apparently healthy individuals.

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10News Exposes 'Marijuana Doctors'

Postby palmspringsbum » Fri Jul 07, 2006 7:06 pm

10News.com wrote:10News Exposes 'Marijuana Doctors'

10News.com
POSTED: 4:39 pm PDT July 6, 2006
UPDATED: 12:41 pm PDT July 7, 2006


SAN DIEGO --

Doctors Offer Legal Pot

Proposition 215 -- the medical marijuana initiative approved by voters ten years ago, has been subverted, abused and misused say law enforcement agencies our I-Team has spoken with.

Prop. 215 is supposed to provide seriously ill people access to marijuana to help relieve their pain but a 10News investigation discovered just about anyone can get pot legally if they want.

10 News became interested in medical marijuana after seeing a large number of advertisements for doctors prescribing pot. These pot docs’ ads appear every week in the San Diego Reader.

Discussions with 10News sources both in and out of law enforcement seemed to confirm a disturbing pattern of increasing sales by the pot docs as well as an increase in the number of distributors for the medical marijuana.

This launched a two-month 10News investigation into exactly what was going on. We used staff members to go into doctor's office and see how difficult it was to get a referral for pot. It was very easy. Too easy in fact, say law enforcement sources.

It turned out both federal and local agencies are also looking into the process.

The 10News I-Team was able to acquire some government survelliance tapes used to document how different doctors would discuss with patients the benefits of marijuana. One shows an undercover officer and a Dr. Robert Steiner, discussing pot.

"I assure you Tylenol is more of a risk to you and a hazard than is cannabis," said Dr. Robert Steiner.

Steiner was doing one of his "legitimate and affordable" medical marijuana evaluations as advertised in the Reader.

"It's open drug dealing with legitimacy," said Deputy District Attorney Dana Greisen.

Greisen said doctors are recommending marijuana to just about anyone who can afford a doctor's visit.

"It's being recommended for insomnia, depression (and) anxiety," said Greisen.

"The law is being abused in a massive scale," said Greisen.

The people using the marijuana aren't suffering from cancer, AIDS or other serious illnesses, which Proposition 215 is supposed to address. It was approved by voters to "ensure that seriously ill Californians have the right to use marijuana for medical purposes."

Dr. Steiner claimed no downsides to using marijuana on the law enforcement video.

"We have two convincing studies that cannabis does not cause lung cancer. Cannabis regenerates brain cells," said Steiner.

The undercover agent then asked if he could also get pot for his dog. "He's got arthritis. He whines at night because of the pain," said the undercover agent.

"Again, it is perfectly acceptable for pups," said Steiner.

Dr. Alfonso Jimenez has a Web site -- Medical Marijuana of San Diego -- where patients can register for his services online. What happened when we sent our testers in?

"He was just laid-back and friendly. (He) didn't really seem to worry about if he was giving me this for the right reasons or not," said tester number one. He went to Jimenez for back pain he doesn't have. He got his referral and could have purchased pot legally. 10News never did purchase any marijuana even after the doctor's approval.

"There's a line behind me coming out of the door," said tester number one.

DDA Greisen said it's all about the money.

"We had a doctor recently (who) testified he gave out about 2,000 recommendations in last year -- that's what he testified to in court -- at $230 approximately. You do the math -- that's $500,000 in cash," said Greisen.

Greisen said most office calls are paid for in cash.

That's what another 10News employee had to do.

He paid $125 to have Steiner recommend marijuana for his "sleeping problems."

"They just let me in the office. (They) kind of started giving me all these facts about medical marijuana before they even knew what was wrong with me," said tester number two.

Tester two would get his marijuana if he went to another doctor first to document his condition.

"He (Dr. Sterner) referred me to a doctor who would have me in and out real quickly. I could come right back, (and) he would be able to sign off on the recommendation.

Once people get their recommendations, 10News discovered there's no limit or control as to how much marijuana they can buy from storefronts called dispensaries.


Legal Loophole?

You don't have to suffer from a serious illness to buy medical marijuana from dispensers.

10News investigators were able to get approval for marijuana from two doctors -- Dr. Robert Sterner, who has an office near Lindbergh Field, and Dr. Alfonso Jimenez in downtown San Diego.

"They got me through pretty quick," said tester number one, a 10News employee.

With a recommendation from a doctor, the staffers would be able to get marijuana that is sold at dispensaries across San Diego County.

Tester number two, another 10News employee, was sent into the doctor's offices and said, "I went to two different places, and within thirty minutes I got some (referrals). It seemed pretty easy."

These marijuana recommendations can be filled at twenty different storefronts selling pot, and unlike a regular prescriptions, a patient can use the recommendations more than once.

"A pattern is developing. Patients get recommendations," said Dep. District Attorney Dana Greisen. These recommendations are like a blank check.

According to 10News findings, one person received a recommendation with permission to grow 75 marijuana plants. Each plant has the street value of $1,000.

The same person received permission to purchase five pounds of marijuana. With that amount, a person can smoke a joint every two hours for 24 hours a day and seven days a week, taking more than a year to go through all of that marijuana.

Dr. Larry Pohl said what some of his colleagues are doing is not proper medicine. He said patients sometimes need lab work, X-rays or meetings with specialists.

Pohl said marijuana is not a cure-all.

"It's definitely not consistent with standard medical care," said Pohl.

Dr. Jimenez has several offices and we talked to him by phone at his Hawaii location, he told 10News that he only provides a referral for patients with medical illnesses.

Jimenez's operates a Web site MedicalMarijuanaOfSanDiego.com.

When 10News visited Dr. Sterner, he explained he had to see patients and closed his office door.

But there is another loophole in the system, called the primary care giver form.


Taking Advantage Of Proposition 215

"It is a legalization of marijuana. It's going to encourage drug use," said San Diego County Sheriff Bill Kolender.

"It is going to be helping people who are really sick and need a medicine that has been used for 5,000 years," said one Proposition 215 supporter.

These were two very different predictions made 10 years ago after Prop. 215 was approved by Californians.

Kolender was right, if you ask Dep. District Attorney Dana Greisen.

"Over the last year, we saw a proliferation of these recommendations," said Greisen. He says just about anyone can get marijuana. And to make matters worse, he says, doctors hand out blank primary caregiver forms.

These forms allow patients to list anyone they want to be a caregiver. It allows this person to purchase or grow marijuana for them.

10News Investigations sent in two staffers to check Greisen's claims. And it was as the assistant district attorney had claimed. Our staffers were given blank caregiver forms.

10News learned that one person named his dog as a caregiver.

As part of the investigation, 10News nominated a bird named Riggo as a caregiver.

"The doctors -- because they're giving it to so many people -- are basically legalizing marijuana one doctor and patient at a time," said Greisen.


Copyright 2006 by 10News.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.




"I assure you Tylenol is more of a risk to you and a hazard than is cannabis," said Dr. Robert Steiner.

This is absolutely true.

The next statement...

Steiner was doing one of his "legitimate and affordable" medical marijuana evaluations as advertised in the Reader.

"It's open drug dealing with legitimacy," said Deputy District Attorney Dana Greisen.


Selling tylenol is open drug dealing with legitimacy', so what's your point? It is to impugn, of course.

"It's being recommended for insomnia, depression (and) anxiety," said Greisen.

"The law is being abused in a massive scale," said Greisen.


It WORKS for insomnia, depression and anxiety.

Dr. Steiner claimed no downsides to using marijuana on the law enforcement video.

"We have two convincing studies that cannabis does not cause lung cancer. Cannabis regenerates brain cells," said Steiner.


This is absolutely TRUE.

The undercover agent then asked if he could also get pot for his dog. "He's got arthritis. He whines at night because of the pain," said the undercover agent.

"Again, it is perfectly acceptable for pups," said Steiner.


Sigh...no it isn't. Sterner has a minature dobie or a chihuahua - some obnoxious little rat, and it may have calmed the neurotic thing down and made it bearable, but cannabis can be lethal for dogs. And he should know that.

"We had a doctor recently (who) testified he gave out about 2,000 recommendations in last year -- that's what he testified to in court -- at $230 approximately. You do the math -- that's $500,000 in cash," said

It's no more than a 'normal' office visit. There are 2080 hours in a 40-hour-per-week work year. Knock off two weeks for vacation and you have 2000 hours. Dr. Sterner actually could have made more doing standard consultations, with much less risk.

"He (Dr. Sterner) referred me to a doctor who would have me in and out real quickly. I could come right back, (and) he would be able to sign off on the recommendation.

This certainly has the appearance of impropriety.

"A pattern is developing. Patients get recommendations," said Dep. District Attorney Dana Greisen. These recommendations are like a blank check.

According to 10News findings, one person received a recommendation with permission to grow 75 marijuana plants. Each plant has the street value of $1,000.

The same person received permission to purchase five pounds of marijuana. With that amount, a person can smoke a joint every two hours for 24 hours a day and seven days a week, taking more than a year to go through all of that marijuana.


That's total bull. I've smoked 5 pounds in a year easy, and I didn't have to stay awake all year to do it. In fact, my recommendation from Sterner was for 5g/day, which is about 4.5pounds/year.
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ACLU backs CA's medical marijuana law

Postby palmspringsbum » Fri Jul 07, 2006 7:34 pm

PBS wrote:ACLU backs CA's medical marijuana law

Amy Isackson
KPBS SAN DIEGO (2006-07-07)
<img src=../bin/video_icon.gif> Listen


The American Civil Liberties Union is stepping in to defend California's medical marijuana law in the wake of Thursday's raids of medical marijuana dispensaries in San Diego. The ACLU is asking the state court to force San Diego to comply with the state law. KPBS reporter Amy Isackson has details.

California voters passed Proposition 215 a decade ago. It allows sick and dying patients to grow and use marijuana for medical purposes.

Earlier this year, San Diego's County Board of Supervisors sued the state to overturn the law. They say federal law that prohibits medical marijuana trumps California's law which permits it.

ACLU executive director Kevin Keenan says when officers raided medical marijuana dispensaries recently, they violated state law. He says that's ironic.

Keenan: "The county is spending time focusing on prosecuting abuses when it could prevent abuses by having a better run system."

Law enforcement officials in San Diego say they support medical marijuana laws and went after dispensaries that abuse them. Amy Isackson, KPBS news.


© Copyright 2006, KPBS

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County, DEA raid marijuana dispensaries

Postby palmspringsbum » Fri Jul 07, 2006 7:42 pm

The North County Times wrote:County, DEA raid marijuana dispensaries

By: North County Times
July 7, 2006

SAN DIEGO COUNTY ---- Drug enforcement, San Diego County sheriff's deputies and San Diego police officers raided a number of medical marijuana dispensaries across the county, including a location that had just opened recently in Solana Beach, district attorney's officials said Thursday.

Deputy District Attorney Damon Mosler said Thursday afternoon that law enforcement officials arrested 10 people, but none in North County, on charges including possessing marijuana with intent to sell, and selling marijuana. Mosler said no raids were conducted on "Legal Ease," a North County dispensary the city of San Marcos plans to shut down.

California voters approved the "Compassionate Use Act" a decade ago, which allows seriously ill people to grow and use marijuana to ease their pain.

However, the federal government still considers all marijuana use to be illegal and without medicinal value ---- though it recognizes the medicinal benefit of synthetically-created tetrahydrocannabinol, the active ingredient in grown marijuana.

Mosler said the county was helping federal agents conduct the raids because the dispensaries were selling marijuana to almost anyone who wanted it, rather than legitimate patients.

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Five Arrested, 13 Dispensaries Raided by DEA

Postby palmspringsbum » Fri Jul 07, 2006 8:36 pm

The Drug War Chronicle wrote:Medical Marijuana: Five Arrested, 13 Dispensaries Raided by DEA in San Diego 7/7/06

The Drug War Chronicle

Just a week after the US House of Representatives voted to continue funding Justice Department raids on medical marijuana patients and providers in states where it is legal, the feds struck again. Five people have been arrested in a series of DEA and local police raids Thursday hitting 13 medical marijuana dispensaries in San Diego County. Some people are being charged under state marijuana distribution laws in the cooperative federal-local effort. More arrests are expected, local law enforcement officials said.

The raids and arrests came as federal officials unsealed two indictments, one charging the Purple Bud Room and Tender Holistics Care dispensaries with illegally distributing marijuana, the other laying similar charges against five people who owned and operated Co-op San Diego.

The feds also went after four doctors on suspicion of providing medical marijuana recommendations for people the officials claimed did not legitimately need marijuana. State and federal officials have filed complaints with the state Medical Board against the doctors.

The San Diego District Attorney's Office announced it was filing marijuana distribution charges against five dispensaries: Ocean Beach Dispensary and Utopia, both on Voltaire Street in Ocean Beach; Native Sun Dispensary on Rosecrans Street, in the Midway District; THC Dispensary, no longer in business, in Pacific Beach; and the California Medical Center, on La Jolla Boulevard in La Jolla.

In a statement announcing the busts, the DA's Office said it was not aiming at medical marijuana patients, but at retail pot outlets disguised as dispensaries. "Our office has no intention of stopping those who are chronically ill with AIDS, glaucoma and cancer from obtaining any legally prescribed drug, including medical marijuana, to help them ease their pain," said DA Bonnie Dumanis said. But the state's medical marijuana law is "being severely abused and it has led to the neighborhood pot dealer opening up storefronts from La Jolla to Ocean Beach to North Park," she said.

Americans for Safe Access (ASA), the medical marijuana defense group, announced in an e-mail Thursday afternoon it was holding an emergency meeting in San Diego that evening to craft a response.


<center>-- END --</center>

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Activists protest medical marijuana raids and arrests

Postby palmspringsbum » Sat Jul 08, 2006 9:28 am

The San Diego Union-Tribune wrote:Activists protest medical marijuana raids and arrests

By Jeff McDonald
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
July 8, 2006

The dragnet that was dropped over San Diego County medical marijuana dispensaries Thursday has prompted deepening concern among patients who rely on the plant to relieve their symptoms.

Most of the dispensaries targeted by the drug task force stayed closed yesterday, but some were open despite a terse warning from officials that they might be next.

Dozens of medical marijuana activists protested yesterday outside the federal courthouse, where one day earlier local and federal law enforcement leaders announced the results of a raid on area pot dispensaries.

Fifteen people were arrested on various state and federal charges after an 18-month investigation into the dispensaries, which are legal under state law but remain forbidden under federal drug rules.

California's landmark 1996 medical marijuana law allows patients to grow and use marijuana, but a follow-up bill that tried to clarify the legislation does not fully spell out guidelines on the commercial sale of the drug.

The resulting confusion has left patients and local officials in a lurch.

“How can you bust people for breaking the law when there are no rules?” wondered Dion Markgraaff, a medical marijuana advocate who helped organize the demonstration. “That's what everybody wants – regulation.”

Motorists driving by the protest along Broadway honked in apparent support of the protesters, who stayed at the corner for nearly an hour before marching to the Hall of Justice.

They hoped to meet with District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, who vowed at a news conference Thursday to continue raiding dispensaries if they do not shut down.

Courthouse security teams refused to allow all the protesters to enter the building, permitting only a handful of them to drop off a letter to Dumanis.

The rejection did not sit well with Richard Hertz, a medical marijuana advocate from Clairemont who was among those left outside. “Our local officials aren't following state law or the will of the people,” he said.

The letter to Dumanis urged her to develop local rules governing pot dispensaries so patients would have reliable and safe access to their pain-relieving medicine.

Dumanis was out of her office yesterday but had an aide read her the letter by telephone before issuing this response: “Legitimate patients and/or their real care providers can grow reasonable amounts of marijuana as prescribed by actual treating physicians. That's not what's happening here.”

Dumanis was unavailable for follow-up questions.

Medical marijuana activist Rudy Reyes, who suffered severe burns across his face and body in the Cedar fire, wants to know what options exist for patients like him if they are unable to grow plants on their own or buy pot from dispensaries.

“There are no guidelines for the county,” he said outside the federal courthouse. “What am I supposed to do?”

In an unrelated development yesterday, three advocacy groups petitioned a state court to intervene in a lawsuit brought by San Diego County that seeks to overturn California's medical marijuana laws.

The ACLU, Americans for Safe Access and the Drug Policy Alliance filed court papers to join in defending the pending case.





<hr>

Jeff McDonald: (619) 542-4585; jeff.mcdonald@uniontrib.com

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Six men plead not guilty after marijuana dispensary sweep

Postby Midnight toker » Tue Jul 11, 2006 9:30 am

4 articles

The San Diego Union Tribune wrote:Six men plead not guilty after marijuana dispensary sweep

The San Diego Union Tribune
By Dana Littlefield
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
July 11, 2006



<table class=posttable align=right width=280><tr><td class=postcell><img class=postimg src=bin/san_diego_sweep.jpg></td></tr><tr><td class=postcap>Anthony Amrine, Riley Hoskins-Butts and Amaro Jesus (from left) are three of the six men who appeared in court on Monday.</td></tr></table>Six men accused of selling marijuana at illegal dispensaries throughout the county pleaded not guilty yesterday to felony charges.

The men were arrested last week during a multi-agency sweep aimed at catching offenders prosecutors said were abusing Proposition 215, California's 1996 medical marijuana law.

Prosecutor Dana Greisen told a San Diego Superior Court judge yesterday the defendants were owners, operators and/or customers of the dispensaries, which provided marijuana to anyone with a recommendation signed by a doctor or caregiver.

However, an investigation revealed the dispensary operators made thousands of dollars a day, often selling to people with no apparent medical conditions, the prosecutor said.

Among those arraigned was John Thomas Sullivan, 38, of San Diego, who faces charges of insurance fraud, receiving stolen property, possession of marijuana for sale and perjury in state court. If convicted, he could be sent to prison for more than six years.

Sullivan also faces federal charges.

The prosecutor described Sullivan in court yesterday as “a longtime con artist,” with a history of prescription fraud. He said Sullivan has previous convictions in various California counties for forgery, grand theft and insurance fraud.

Griesen told the judge that Sullivan – like others arrested in the sweep – was acting as a primary caregiver to his marijuana customers without any qualification to do so. The law defines a primary caregiver as someone who is “consistently responsible for the health, safety or housing of an individual.”

“The only relationship Mr. Sullivan has with these people is the same one a supermarket has with their customers,” the prosecutor said.

Deputy Public Defender Juliana Humphrey – who represented several of the defendants yesterday, but not Sullivan – noted in court that the state's medical marijuana law allows patients to use pot, but there's no place to get it.

She said the men she represented yesterday were “seeking to provide medicine in a safe environment and make real the promise of a law that was enacted 10 years ago.”

The others arraigned yesterday were: Anthony Amrine, 33; Ahmad Abdul-Jalil, 21; Amaro Jesus, 34, Riley Hoskins-Butts, 26; and Michael Julian Crane, 42. All were being held in county jail.

They face charges including possession of marijuana for sale and sale of marijuana. They could be sent to prison for up to six years if convicted, the prosecutor said.

Others arrested in the sweep are expected to be arraigned in the coming weeks.


<hr>


Dana Littlefield: (619) 542-4590; dana.littlefield@uniontrib.com

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Six plead not guilty to marijuana dispensary fraud charges

Postby Midnight toker » Tue Jul 11, 2006 9:58 am

The San Diego Union Tribune wrote:Six plead not guilty to marijuana dispensary fraud charges


The San Diego Union Tribune
6:08 p.m. July 10, 2006

SAN DIEGO – Six men accused of either running illegal medical marijuana dispensaries or providing the drug to undercover officers pleaded not guilty Monday to charges of possession for sale and selling marijuana.

The defendants were among 15 people arrested last week during a number of raids at several distribution storefronts in San Diego.

Undercover officers – posing as both patients and primary care providers – were able to buy marijuana without a prescription, authorities said.

Under Proposition 215, passed by California voters in 1996, seriously ill patients can get small amounts of marijuana legally if they have the approval of a licensed physician.

John Thomas Sullivan, 38, described in court as a con artist, denied state charges Monday of possession for sale of marijuana, sale of marijuana, insurance fraud and receiving stolen property.

He is also charged in a federal indictment with one count each of conspiracy to manufacture marijuana, conspiracy to distribute marijuana and manufacturing marijuana.

Prosecutor Dana Greisen told Judge David Szumowski that Sullivan had criminal convictions for insurance fraud and grand theft and was being monitored by electronic surveillance when he was taken into custody on the current charges.

Greisen said Sullivan had marijuana storefronts up and down California and had continually preyed on the community.

Deputy Public Defender Juliana Humphrey told the judge that Sullivan worked as a currency broker and that the charges were not correct.

Szumowski set bail at $250,000.

Greisen said another man, Ahmad Abdul-Jalil, 21, allegedly ran a storefront in La Jolla where an undercover officer was able to buy marijuana for his dog.

Large amounts of marijuana and $7,000 in cash were found when a search warrant was executed in that case, the prosecutor said.

Greisen said Anthony Amrine, 33, was the owner of a dispensary in Ocean Beach that was searched in December.

The defendant admitted to police that 50 percent of his customers came “just to get high,” the prosecutor told the judge.

Greisen said Amrine had $2,200 in cash and ran out the back door of the business when it was raided.

Humphrey called Amrine and employees Riley Hoskins Butts and Amaro Jesus “true advocates” of the medical marijuana movement.

A weapon found during a search of Amrine's home was an antique with no ammunition, the defense attorneys said.

A sixth defendant, Michael Julian Crane, 42, ran a storefront in Solana Beach, Greisen said.

Undercover officers were available to buy marijuana both as primary caregivers and patient, the prosecutor said.

Several other defendants who were arrested – and subsequently posted bail – are expected in court Thursday and Friday, Greisen said.

Greisen, assistant chief of the Narcotics Division in the District Attorney's Office, told reporters outside court that the defendants sold small amounts of marijuana “over and over and over again.”

He called the marijuana storefronts basically “Home Depots dealing marijuana.”

The way in which the storefronts are selling marijuana is not what Proposition 215 stands for, the prosecutor said.

People wishing to get marijuana for medicinal purposes should find a primary caregiver and obtain the drug legally, Greisen said.

The joint investigation began last September, after numerous complaints were lodged by nearby residents in the neighborhoods where the illegal drug dealers were disguised as operators of medical marijuana dispensaries, authorities said.

Marijuana recommendations or “prescriptions” for six months or one year, which could be purchased from some specific doctors, appeared to be openly sold to anyone who had the cash, authorities said.

The investigation focused on the more than 20 storefronts which opened up throughout the city of San Diego and would sell marijuana to anyone with a recommendation or a caregiver form signed by the same doctors.

According to one federal indictment, Sullivan operated and/or managed two distribution locations known as “Tender Holistics Care” or “THC” in San Diego, which distributed marijuana and marijuana-based products, such as ice cream, ice cream toppings, candy bars and baked goods.

In the second indictment, Wayne Hudson, 42, Christopher Larkin, 34, Ross McManus, 39, Scott Wright, 40, and Michael Ragin, 34, are charged with one count each of conspiracy to distribute marijuana and conspiracy to manufacture marijuana.

From at least 2005 to the present, Hudson, Larkin and McManus have owned, managed and directed “Co-Op San Diego,” a site from which they distribute marijuana and marijuana plants, according to the indictment.

To supply their operation, the defendants arranged for the operation of large indoor marijuana growing areas at various residences in San Diego, which were overseen by Wright and Ragin, according to the indictment.

The sale, possession or distribution of marijuana is illegal under federal law.

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An end to pot dispensaries?

Postby Midnight toker » Wed Jul 19, 2006 10:05 am

San Diego City Beat wrote:An end to pot dispensaries?

District Attorney says raids were a warning

San Diego City Beat
by Kelly Davis
19 Jul 06

In the past two years, the number of medical-marijuana dispensaries in San Diego County has grown from zero to roughly two-dozen—most of them located within San Diego city limits—with another dozen medical-cannabis delivery services focused solely on bringing pot to a person’s home.

Only the L.A. area has experienced a similar increase in medical-cannabis-related businesses in such a short period of time. The issue’s reached a tipping point in San Diego—two weeks ago, federal and local law-enforcement agents raided 13 dispensaries and arrested 15 owners and employees. Five people have been charged with the federal crimes of conspiracy to distribute and conspiracy to manufacture marijuana; the remaining were arraigned in state court last week on drug sales and possession charges.

Damon Mosler, head of the District Attorney’s narcotics unit, said the raids were a warning to dispensaries that remain open. “The rest are on notice and certainly can expect to see law enforcement if they remain open,” he said.

Indeed, California NORML (National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws), which keeps lists of cannabis clubs, dispensaries and co-ops, updated San Diego County’s listings this week, noting that five dispensaries were “closed till further notice by DEA raid.”

For the past 18 months, dispensaries operated in San Diego with relatively little law-enforcement oversight and no political oversight. Mosler said he watched more dispensaries open but didn’t hear anything from the San Diego Police Department. “County prosecutors were wondering when they were going to start seeing reports from police to prosecute these cases,” he said.

Juliana Humphrey, an attorney and a member of the city’s medical-marijuana task force, said she gets calls from patients and dispensary owners, asking for her advice. Dispensaries, she tells them, “are not legal in any way, shape or form.”

Prop. 215, the decade-old voter-approved initiative that made medical marijuana use legal with a doctor’s recommendation, said nothing about how a person should obtain marijuana. The law encourages “state and federal governments” to come up with a plan that would give patients safe and affordable access to marijuana. Marijuana remains illegal under federal law, classified as a “Schedule I” drug, meaning it has no medicinal value.

State Senate Bill 420, signed into law two years ago, sought to tie up some of Prop. 215’s loose ends—clarifying how much marijuana, both dried and in plant form, a person could possess and requiring counties to create an identification-card program to recognize legitimate patients—but like its parent law, SB 420 said nothing about how someone should obtain pot or a plant. A person can appoint a “primary caregiver” to grow marijuana for them and then, according to the law, pay that person “for actual expenses, including reasonable compensation.” Some have interpreted this as an OK for dispensaries. On its website, though, California NORML warns that “dispensaries… selling marijuana over the counter accordingly do so at the tolerance of local authorities.”

“Prop. 215 was not a ‘full employment for marijuana growers’ act,” Humphrey said. “One person providing for 1,000 people is not what the law envisioned” in defining a primary caregiver. “They have to have some sort of relationship with their patients.”

Humphrey said dispensaries have gotten by so far because law enforcement chose not to go after them. “Some get lulled into a sense of false security, but as others pop up, people start complaining and cops feel they have to do something,” she said.

Though San Diego was, in 2003, one of the first cities in California to pass guidelines as to how much marijuana a person could possess for legitimate medical use (the guidelines set rules for growing, too), the city sits within a county governed by a Board of Supervisors that has refused to implement the ID-card program and last year launched an attack on Prop. 215. The supervisors, a steadfastly conservative bunch, are hoping to kill the law by arguing that the federal government’s ban on marijuana trumps state law.

As for dispensaries, however, while six counties and 24 cities have taken steps to regulate them, San Diego’s done nothing. Even Kern County, where George Bush beat John Kerry by a 2-to-1 margin, enacted dispensary guidelines earlier this month. San Francisco last year put a moratorium on new dispensaries and drew up rules that required dispensaries to apply for business licenses and permits, pay related fees and not be located near a school. The Kern County guidelines give the sheriff the right to review sales records.

Bruce Mirken, spokesperson for the Marijuana Policy Project, said cities and counties that fail to regulate dispensaries “are inviting trouble.”

“Communities that have chosen to ignore them or try to not have them at all are doing everybody a disservice because you either end up with the Wild West or with all the activity forced underground where nobody can properly regulate it. Neither is good for patients or the community,” Mirken said.

When asked about dispensaries’ legality, Mirken pointed out that they’ve never been challenged in state court.

“Arguably, there’s enough vagueness in the law that one could make a case one way or another about the legality of dispensaries,” he said, “but there certainly has been no definitive decision that state law bans them.”

Claudia Little, 60, a nurse and medical-marijuana patient, had hoped that the city’s medical marijuana task force would take the lead on the dispensary issue and call for guidelines.

“Very few people have the green thumb or the resources to grow their own cannabis,” she said. “Dispensaries are wonderful for patients where they can go in, show their paperwork, get their medicine and go home without having to ask a teenager to score it on the street for them.”

Over the past year, Little and other medical-marijuana advocates have tried to meet with local officials with little luck.

“The dispensary owners, a lot of them, really have been begging for regulations,” she said. One of those owners, Wayne Hudson, hired lobbyist Nikki Symington to meet with public officials and ask for regulations.

When it comes to medical-marijuana dispensaries, Symington said, “there will always be a gray area… because we’re caught between a federal and state issue. But the gray area… really gets cleaned up when there are clear regulations.”

Little and Symington had an appointment to meet with City Attorney Mike Aguirre. A day before the raids, they got a call to say the meeting was cancelled. “We had set up appointments; I had been calling the mayor’s office. I should have guessed,” Symington said about the raids. “Everybody sort of said to me, ‘Well, we’re having internal discussions right now.’”

Mosler said the raids focused on dispensary operators and doctors who the authorities believe were giving out questionable recommendations.

“We didn’t want any patients brought into this,” he said. “We’re not touching patients; we’re not going to debate their ailment.”

But, Mirken said, using raids to shut down dispensaries is an attack on patients. “Patients need a safe, reliable source of medicine, something that’s been acknowledged by local public-health and law-enforcement officials in communities around the state.”

Neither Aguirre nor Police Chief William Lansdowne responded to CityBeat’s request for an interview. Mayor Jerry Sanders, through a spokesperson, said that while he supports the use of medical marijuana, he doesn’t support for-profit dispensaries: “Under the Compassionate Use Act, the state and federal governments are called on to develop a plan for the safe and affordable distribution of marijuana to all patients needing the drug,” he said. “This includes enhancing the access of patients and caregivers to medicinal marijuana through collective, cooperative cultivation projects. This does not include for-profit dispensaries.”

Humphrey said there are alternatives to dispensaries. “The folks who are sincere [about access to medical marijuana] should brainstorm,” she said.

Longtime medical-marijuana activist Steve McWilliams, who died last year, opposed dispensaries, instead advocating for a secure, municipal “grow area” where qualified patients would pay a small fee to grow their own marijuana or have someone grow it for them. The place would be guarded, and guards’ salaries would be covered by user fees.

Lynette Shaw, who runs the only dispensary in the Marin County town of Fairfax—one that’s strictly nonprofit—said her set-up, in place for nine years, is something she’d like to see other cities and counties try; she’s offered to advise San Diego.

“The chief of police wrote this use permit with 84 conditions” that Shaw has to follow, she said. Among them: her books are audited yearly by the Fairfax City Council to make sure she remains a nonprofit; she pays state, federal and local income taxes; she has a contract with the police to keep loiterers away from the dispensary; and she abides by community concerns when it comes to operating hours.

“Because we’re across from a Little League ball field, we close during Little League games,” she said. Her patients’ purchases are 100-percent tax deductible as a medical expense, and she’s also the only dispensary she knows of with a money-back guarantee. “If the medicine doesn’t work, you bring it back,” she said.

In the end, Shaw believes her dispensary has saved both the city of Fairfax and Marin County money in law enforcement and legal costs. “We have calm in the community. The officers are not wasting their time… they can get on to taking care of the real bad guys.”

7/19/06


© 2003-2006 Southland Publishing, All Rights Reserved

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Agents make 'visits' to medical pot shops

Postby budman » Sat Jul 22, 2006 10:47 am

SignOnSanDigeo.com wrote:Agents make 'visits' to medical pot shops

Marijuana seized, warnings given; nobody arrested

The Union-Tribune
By Jeff McDonald
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
July 22, 2006

Federal agents paid “courtesy visits” to nine or 10 San Diego medical marijuana dispensaries yesterday, warning operators that they consider the shops illegal.

No arrests were made, although agents seized an undetermined amount of marijuana. Agents made it clear that the government will no longer tolerate retail storefronts selling pot.

“Those dispensaries are operating in violation of state and federal law,” said Dan Simmons, a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration special agent. “These were courtesy visits to remind the dispensaries that are still open that they're operating illegally.”

Medical marijuana activists painted a different picture of what happened.

According to Steph Sherer, executive director of the advocacy group Americans for Safe Access, drug agents barged into the dispensaries and threatened to arrest employees and patients before seizing whatever marijuana they could find.

“They're basically going in and taking everything,” Sherer said. “They said, 'Shut down or we're going to come back and arrest you.' ”

State law permits medical marijuana dispensaries but leaves it up to local municipalities to determine where they are allowed. Sherer's organization has repeatedly called on elected officials to regulate dispensaries rather than raid them.

Two weeks ago, local law enforcement agencies and federal drug agents raided some marijuana dispensaries and made 15 arrests. Those criminal cases are pending in federal and state courts.

After the July 7 raid, U.S. Attorney Carol Lam and San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis warned all dispensaries to shut down or face closure and arrest of the operators.

The dispensaries that were warned yesterday apparently were not part of the sweep two weeks ago. Some of the shops closed before agents arrived. Marijuana was seized at only two shops, Simmons said.

The approach by law enforcement officers yesterday was markedly different than during earlier raids, when agents swarmed inside dispensaries with flak jackets and automatic rifles, handcuffing everyone and seizing computers, patient records and other items.

It was deliberately lower-key, Simmons said. “It was not a confrontational thing.”

Medical marijuana has vexed elected officials since voters in California approved an initiative 10 years ago allowing patients with a physician's recommendation to grow and smoke the drug to relieve symptoms.

The original law was deliberately vague. Follow-up legislation that went into effect in 2004 allows marijuana dispensaries. Some California communities have adopted regulations dictating where they can be, but officials in San Diego have developed no such ordinance.

Under federal law, marijuana is illegal under any circumstance.

San Diego County has become a national testing ground for medical marijuana laws, which have now been adopted in 11 states.

County supervisors sued the state of California earlier this year to try and overturn the Compassionate Use Act of 1996 and the bill permitting retail sales to qualified patients.

The case is pending in state court.


<hr>

Jeff McDonald: (619) 542-4585; jeff.mcdonald@uniontrib.com

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Postby budman » Sat Jul 22, 2006 10:54 am

CounterPunch wrote:July 22-23, 2006

From Prozac to Marijuana

The Double Standard on Depression

CounterPunch
By FRED GARDNER

One of Eli Lilly's key objectives, when they were marketing Prozac in the early 1990s was to get employers to reimburse for anti-depressants. Some leaders of the National Association of Manufacturers had expressed reluctance to underwrite "mental health benefits" in the Clinton Health Plan; they had to be convinced that a workforce on Prozac would be in their interests. Lilly funded a study by an MIT economist that Tipper Gore and Fred Goodwin of the National Institute on Mental Health ballyhooed at a press conference (also funded by Lilly) and Daniel Goleman publicized in the New York Times in December '94 (without mentioning Lilly). "Depression Costs Put at $43 Billion," said the headline. "The cost of days lost from work is about $11.7 billion," Goleman reported, "and impairment from the symptoms while people continue on the job costs $12.1 billion more." Add to this "earnings lost to suicide... about $7.5 billion."

To make Prozac a blockbuster, Lilly spread the word that clinical depression was abroad in the land. They enlisted the help of the NIMH (whose top officers retire and get hired by the drug companies the way Pentagon brass get hired by the arms makers) and the National Mental Health Association (a non-profit funded by pharmaceutical companies) and freelance opportunists like Dr. Peter Kramer (author of Listening to Prozac), and Dr. Douglas Jacobs, creator of National Depression Screening Day. The ultimate goal of all these promoters was to get the American people to take a simplistic test for depression -a test designed to convince almost any honest adult that he or she is a candidate for Prozac. The test is based on criteria set forth in the Diagnostic and Statistic Manual, the so-called "bible" of the American Psychiatric Association. The drug companies influenced the drafting of the DSM so that the definition of depression would apply to as many people as possible -i.e., would maximize the potential customers. See "The Drafting of DSM-III," a great book by Kirk and Kutchens.

This is how doctors are taught to detect depression: "The presence of depressed mood (5) or loss of interest (6) and at least four other symptoms over a two-week period is required for the diagnosis of a major depressive episode. 1) Changes in appetite and weight 2) Disturbed sleep 3) Motor retardation or agitation 4) Fatigue and loss of energy 5) Depressed or irritable mood 6) Loss of interest or pleasure in usual activities. 7) Feelings of worthlessness, self-reproach, excessive guilt 8 ) Suicidal thinking or attempts 9) Difficulty thinking or concentrating.

Is there a single adult in America who could not qualify for a diagnosis of depression? The criteria are vague and all-embracing. Losing weight? You're depressed. Gaining weight? You're depressed. Sleeping too little? You're depressed. Sleeping too much? You're depressed. Going too slow? You're depressed. Going too fast? You're depressed... The all-important fifth criterion -"Depressed or irritable mood"- used to define depression is a syllogism. And even when the external causes of a patient's "depressed or irritable mood" may be obvious -loss of a job, a relationship on the rocks, kid trouble, etc.- the resultant diagnosis, "Clinical Depression," will imply that his or her internal psychological condition was causal! Is there such a thing as a double syllogism?

"Loss of interest or pleasure in usual activities" can be associated with physical aging and/or deteriorating quality of life. For example, you may no longer take pleasure in swimming at a beach after you've noticed human shit bobbing in the waves. You may not find driving as pleasurable now that there's bumper-to-bumper traffic and the ride that once took less than 20 minutes takes more than an hour.

The definition of "clinical depression" can never be rigorous and the whole concept -the medicalization of unhappiness- is a misdirection play, pointing away from the real causes, insecurity and loneliness. Insecurity is a function of the rich/poor system, compounded by looming ecodisaster and personal health problems. Loneliness is almost everybody's lot in a socioeconomic system that breaks up families geographically. Prevention -which nobody ever talks about- would involve changing the system to encourage social stability. But in the meantime....

In this mean time, marijuana is the anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medication of choice for millions of Americans. That's the statistical fact at the heart of Dennis Peron's famous line, "In a society where they give Prozac to shy teenagers, all marijuana use is medical!" Prop 215 explicitly established the right to obtain and use marijuana in the treatment of any condition for which it provides relief. The medical profession and the government recognize depression as a serious, disabling illness for which Prozac, Wellbutrin, et al can be prescribed to provide relief -and were prescribed to some 2.5 million Californians last year. "What's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander," as the old saying goes. Californians have every right to use marijuana in the treatment of depression.

This may be a winnable fight. U.S. employers were losing $3,000 per year per depressed worker, according to the 1994 MIT study. The biggest impact of depression, more costly to employers than absenteeism, was "the effects of poor concentration, indecisiveness, lack of self-confidence," i.e., dawdling. Most employers probably assume that widespread marijuana use would lead to even more dawdling. Just wait till they find out it's a performance enhancer!



What Prop 215 Authorized

The San Diego District Attorney doesn't know -- or just can't stand It -- that California law authorizes doctors to approve the use of marijuana as a treatment for "any condition for which marijuana provides relief." After raids that closed five local dispensaries July 6, DA Bonnie Dumanis said "Our office has no intention of stopping those who are chronically ill with AIDS, glaucoma and cancer from obtaining any legally prescribed drug, including medical marijuana, to help them ease their pain." Deputy DA Dana Greisen complained to Channel 10 News that profiteering doctors were approving marijuana use too readily: "The doctors, because they're giving it to so many people, are basically legalizing marijuana one doctor and patient at a time... It's being recommended for insomnia, depression, anxiety... The law is being abused on a massive scale."

Actually, the law is being implemented on a limited scale, given how many Californians are using pharmaceutical antidepressants and how afraid/uneducated most doctors are when it comes to cannabis. The way to deprive cannabis specialists of revenue, if that were really law enforcement's goal, would be to remove the fear that constrains other doctors from approving their patients' use of the herb -mainly, fear of being investigated by the state medical board. So why has SDDA sent a letter to the medical board requesting investigations of four doctors who allegedly issue approvals too freely? The investigations will undoubtedly have a chilling effect on every doctor south of Capistrano Beach who might be considering a more liberal approach. Patients, instead of asking their regular doctors to approve their cannabis use, will continue to seek out the docs who advertise their cannabis consultation services in the San Diego Reader. The cost of lawyers will justify the cannabis consultant's fee, and the system will grind grimly on.

Are Bonnie Dumanis and her deputies totally ignorant of the relevant history? In 1994 and again in 1995 the California legislature passed and Governor Pete Wilson vetoed bills that would have legalized marijuana for the treatment of AIDS, cancer, glaucoma, and multiple sclerosis -a finite list. After Wilson's second veto, Dennis Peron gave up on the politicians and decided to change the law by ballot initiative. The measure he crafted, with input from Tod Mikuriya, MD, among others, left it entirely up to the doctors which conditions cannabis could be used to treat. Thus Prop 215 was and is much more liberal than the bills Wilson had vetoed. There was nothing misleading about what appeared on the ballot: the very first sentence of Prop 215 establishes "the right to obtain and use marijuana for medical purposes where that medical use is deemed appropriate and has been recommended by a physician who has determined that the person's health would benefit from the use of marijuana in the treatment of cancer, anorexia, AIDS, chronic pain, spasticity, glaucoma, arthritis, migraine, or any other illness for which marijuana provides relief."

The Voters Handbook "Argument Against Prop 215" clearly stated the opposition of the California State Sheriffs Association, the District Attorneys Association, the Police Chiefs Association, the Narcotics Officers Association and the California Peace Officers Association. "Prop 215 DOES NOT restrict the use of marijuana to AIDS, cancer, glaucoma and other serious illnesses," they reminded us. "Read the fine print: Proposition 215 legalizes marijuana use for 'any other illness for which marijuana provides relief.' This could include stress, headaches, upset stomach, insomnia, a stiff neck, or just about anything."

It wasn't fine print, it was the first sentence of the measure that we, the people, read and passed by a 56-44 margin. The district attorney of San Diego ought to read it because it's the law she's supposed to uphold.

<a id=accomplia>Accomplia Update </a>

Acomplia, Sanofi's weight-loss drug that works by blocking cannabinoid receptors in the brain, was approved by British regulatory authorities in late June and promptly offered for sale by on-line pharmacies such as SpeedyHealth.com --28 tablets (20 mg) for $389, which comes to about $336 per pound lost in the first year. Add to cart?... A paper published in General Archives in Psychiatry in April 2001 examined whether Sanofi's drug blocks the psychoactive effects of marijuana. A team of researchers from the National Institute on Drug Abuse led by Marilyn Huestis gave various doses of the drug or a placebo to 63 cannabis smokers who then smoked NIDA-wanna (2.64% THC) or placebo joints. The authors' abstract states that only at the 90 mg dose did Acomplia produce "a significant dose-dependent blockade of marijuana-induced intoxication." But medical-graduate student Sunil Aggarwal has analyzed the paper and discerns a similar blocking effect at 10 mg. "It is not statistically significant per se, but the dose-response blocking curve is," says Aggarwal. (20 mg/ day is Sanofi's recommended starting dose of Acomplia. In clinical studies, higher doses led to an unacceptable incidence of gastrointestinal problems.) Huestis has reportedly done an unpublished study in which subjects taking 60 mg/day of Acomplia for two weeks did not lose the ability to get "high" when they smoked marijuana.

Fred Gardner is the editor of O'Shaughnessy's Journal of the California Cannabis Research Medical Group. He can be reached at: fred@plebesite.com

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Medical Marijuana Crisis in San Diego as Feds, Locals Move t

Postby budman » Sat Jul 29, 2006 1:40 pm

The Drug Policy Alliance wrote:Feature: Medical Marijuana Crisis in San Diego as Feds, Locals Move to Shut Down Remaining Dispensaries
7/28/06


http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/446 ... isis.shtml

Already buffeted by a series of December raids and new raids and arrests of dispensary operators earlier this month, the San Diego-area medical marijuana community is now reeling under a new assault that is forcing the remaining dispensaries to close their doors. Last Friday, DEA agents visited dispensaries it had not already shut down and warned them they faced arrest if they stayed open. They shut down. The feds also seized any medicine they could get their hands on at the dispensaries they visited.

<table class=posttable align=right width=200><tr><td class=postcell><img class=postimg src=bin/mcwilliams-demo.jpg></td></tr><tr><td class=postcap>July 2005 protest in Washington after suicide of Steve McWilliams, San Diego medical marijuana provider who was facing federal prosecution</td></tr></table>The DEA and local officials claim the dispensaries were acting as de facto retail marijuana outlets and many "patients" were not really sick. But medical marijuana advocates say the dispensaries are permitted under state law and are serving sick and dying people. The battle is unlikely to be resolved any time soon, and people on both sides of the issue are looking to the courts or the legislature to clarify matters.

But in San Diego, patients and their supporters are also going after the local political establishment. Dozens of demonstrators gathered Tuesday in front of San Diego city hall to protest the shutdowns before entering the chambers to urge the city council to move to protect patients. So far, it hasn't worked.

"We need to stop raiding and start regulating," said Wendy Christakes, a medical marijuana patient and San Diego co-coordinator of Americans for Safe Access, the medical marijuana defense group. "Local officials are under both moral and legal obligations to develop a safe and secure system for the distribution of medical marijuana to eligible patients. Failing to do so has put us all at risk of DEA harassment and worse."

"We are facing a fairly serious situation down in San Diego right now," said ASA spokesman William Dolphin. "The DEA not only raided many dispensaries, they also paid visits to ones they hadn't previously shut down and warned them they could be arrested if they didn't close. This is creating a serious access problem for patients in the San Diego area."

It's pretty clear that the local district attorney and law enforcement agreed with the DEA to go after what they've described as abuses of the medical marijuana law down there," said California NORML head Dale Gieringer. "The DEA operates in places where local authorities are willing to cooperate, and San Diego County has been in the forefront of opposition to the medical marijuana law. The city police chief and the county prosecutor are sympathetic to medical marijuana, but none of them are sympathetic to the pot club scene that emerged in San Diego."

"San Diego authorities are taking the position that the dispensaries shouldn't exist at all," said Marijuana Policy Project communications director Bruce Mirken. "While there is arguably some ambiguity in the law, many communities have decided to permit and regulate dispensaries, and that is clearly what makes the most sense for patients. We think local authorities should give patients safe access to their medicine through a set of regulations communities can live with and use their police resources for something other than harassing the sick," he told DRCNet.

"This is frustrating and frightening," Mirken continued. "It seems like local officials in San Diego county have joined with the DEA to declare war on the dispensaries, and they feel like it is up to them to decide which physicians' recommendations are okay and which are not."

"This is an unacceptable action of the part of state and local officials, given the explicit will of the voters and the legislature," said ASA Dolphin. "We are pursuing legal action to force them to comply with state law. Along with the Drug Policy Alliance and the ACLU, we are party to the lawsuit filed against the county to force local officials to implement state law."

"Our contention is that nonprofit co-ops and dispensing collectives are legal under California state law," said Dolphin. "There is a lack of explicit direction from the state as to how these are to be regulated. The legislature decided to put the burden on local officials, much like zoning and other regulations, and local communities have the right and responsibility to deal with these things. But because of the volatility of the issue and resistance around the state, the legislature may have to act again with more explicit directions. The key question is how do we ensure patients have legal access to their medicine?"

"The law does not permit dispensaries," maintained San Diego County Assistant District Attorney Damon Mosler. "The law allows people to grow medical marijuana or buy it through the black market, which is cheaper than what the dispensaries are selling it for anyway," he told DRCNet. "We've had some 20-odd stores open up in less than a year selling marijuana openly. We have citizen groups taking pictures of lots of young people coming in and out of the dispensaries."

Mosler and the county prosecutor's office don't have a problem with medical marijuana, he said, just with people abusing the law. "When the law was passed, people though only sick and dying people would get marijuana, and the doctors would decide, but we have some rather unscrupulous physicians making a lot of money off selling recommendations. One doctor testified he made a half million dollars in recommendations. They are not writing prescriptions, so the DEA can't do anything," he complained.

"There are mechanisms under the law as written," said Mosler. "You can have collectives or co-ops where small groups of patients or caregivers get together. If there are legitimate patients who can't grow it, cities can coordinate the collectives." Although Mosler stated flatly that dispensaries are illegal, he conceded that the law is unsettled. "Oakland is taxing the dispensaries, but other cities are doing the same thing we are. Eventually the courts will have to decide whether the dispensaries are legal or not."

The other option for clarifying the law is the state legislature. "The legislature could act to clarify the law," said Mosler. "It may take us getting people in an uproar like now for that to happen."

CANORML's Gieringer disagreed. "There will not be any new state law until federal law is changed," he predicted. "The only long term solution is to make marijuana an over-the-counter drug. NORML is generally pushing in favor of local regulated distribution, local option cafes, dispensaries, and cannabis shops. It's just not worth trying to sort out who is medical and who isn't."

"It's possible to address this at the state level," said MPP's Mirken, grimacing at the prospect. "We tried to address this before with SB 420, and that was the subject of much wrangling and produced mixed results. Just getting that passed was like pulling teeth, and I don't imagine the legislature really wants to wade into this again."

It would be better if local communities could craft reasonable regulations, Mirken said. "It is not unreasonable for different communities to craft different standards, but local governments need to approach this with some level of common sense and decency. If that doesn't happen, we will have to figure out what to do next."

California's medical marijuana law has evolved into a serious muddle. Something is going to have to happen to sort it all out. In the meantime, California dispensary operators should be looking over their shoulders.

MPP's Mirken had some advice for them. "Be very careful and understand that you could become a federal target," he warned. Operators should work with local officials to demonstrate community support, he suggested. "The most important thing is for local officials in communities supportive of medical marijuana to make clear this sort of DEA action is not welcome in their towns. Local officials need to start sending that message loud and clear. I don't think the DEA is stupid enough to do a wholesale crackdown in places like San Francisco or West Hollywood, but San Diego rolled out the red carpet."

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San Diego Leads Backlash Against Medical Marijuana

Postby palmspringsbum » Sat Sep 16, 2006 2:57 pm

cbs13.com wrote:Sep 16, 2006 12:48 pm US/Pacific

San Diego Leads Backlash Against Medical Marijuana

cbs13.com


(AP) SAN DIEGO This seaside city was a bystander as liberal strongholds like San Francisco and Santa Cruz created identification cards for sick patients who use marijuana and wrote regulations to permit storefront pot dispensaries.

<table class=posttable align=right width=175><tr><td class=postcell><img src=bin/cannabis_vial.jpg></td></tr><tr><td class=postcap>Now, 10 years after Californians voted to decriminalize marijuana for medical purposes, conservative San Diego County is leading a backlash against the groundbreaking law</td></tr></table>Now, 10 years after Californians voted to decriminalize marijuana for medical purposes, conservative San Diego County is leading a backlash against the groundbreaking law.

The county is challenging California's medical marijuana law in state court, saying it should not be required to comply with a state law directing counties to issue ID cards to users. At the same time, local police, working with federal agents, have shuttered all of the nearly 30 marijuana dispensaries in the county.

San Diego's legal showdown pits state laws that permit marijuana use for medical reasons against federal laws that prohibit the drug. At stake: California's decade-old law and the industry it spawned, with potentially far-reaching consequences for other states.

"This is the first time that a county has said that the state is forcing them to do something they don't want to do," said Anjuli Verma, director of advocacy for the Drug Law Reform Project of the American Civil Liberties Union. "If they prevail, it will set a precedent that basically means medical marijuana laws are over."

Since California's Compassionate Use Act was passed in 1996, 10 other states -- Alaska, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington -- have passed laws protecting qualified patients from prosecution. Voters in South Dakota decide a medical marijuana ballot measure in November.

California's law allows people suffering AIDS, cancer, anorexia, chronic pain, arthritis and migraine and "any other illness for which marijuana provides relief" to grow or possess small amounts of marijuana with a doctor's recommendation.

In 2003, the California Legislature amended the 1996 bill to direct county health departments to issue ID cards to medical marijuana users.

Counties, which did not receive money to fulfill the requirement, have been slow to issue ID cards, but San Diego was the first to refuse on legal grounds. Under threat of a lawsuit from the local chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, the county struck first and sued the organization -- and the state.

"We're trying to get the court to tell the state they've gone too far in telling the counties to do something that facilitates the ability of a person to break federal law," said John Sansone, San Diego's county counsel.

The state attorney general contends in court filings that California is entitled to pass its own state drug laws and legislate programs relating to the use of medical marijuana.

Two other California counties, San Bernardino and Merced, have joined as plaintiffs in the case, which is scheduled to be heard in November in San Diego Superior Court.

San Diego's board of supervisors entered the legal fray shortly after dispensaries with names like Legal Ease, Holistic Healers and Chronic Care Co-op began popping up in coastal enclaves, thanks to the 2003 law, which created a legal framework for the dispensaries.

California has an estimated 200 storefronts that serve about 200,000 people, according to Americans for Safe Access, a group that advocates medical marijuana laws. San Francisco, Berkeley and Los Angeles have passed guidelines regulating the shops.

San Diego prosecutors say neighbors complained about one store in the summer of 2005, prompting an investigation that culminated in joint Drug Enforcement Administration and local police raids in July.

Fifteen operators were charged with illegally selling the drug for recreational use to people who are not ill -- including one undercover agent who prosecutors say got a doctor to give him a medical marijuana recommendation for his dog.

A lawyer for one of the men, Stephen Harding, who ran Native Sun Dispensary, expressed dismay at the charges.

"These guys were complying with the regulations as they've been laid out," said Jan Ronis. "You have people relying on what seems to be guidance from the state and then the county shoots it down. It's really frustrating."

The remaining stores and delivery services in the county closed after receiving phone calls and visits from law enforcement agents warning that they and their landlords may be prosecuted.

San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis said the state law does not require local authorities to permit marijuana storefronts.

"It's the tolerance level in the community that rules in the end," she said. "I think in Northern California they're much more tolerant than in this part of Southern California."


(© 2006 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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An Open Letter to the 'Officials'

Postby Midnight toker » Sat Sep 23, 2006 10:55 am

The Voice of San Diego wrote:
An Open Letter to the 'Officials'

By Keith Taylor
The Voice of San Diego

<table class=posttable align=left width=85><tr><td class=postcell><img src=bin/taylor_keith.jpg></td></tr></table>Wednesday, Sept.20, 2006 | Dear Mayor Sanders, City Attorney Aguirre, Police Chief Lansdowne, the San Diego City Council, and the San Diego County Board of Supervisors:

I figure just one letter to all of you will do. It is about a shared problem. Also, it will save on postage. If you folks had been as frugal as I, the city wouldn't be in the fix it is in today.

But I digress, we have a problem here involving crime, one not specifically yours. In fact, you may take some comfort in the fact that the nation as a whole is handling it even worse than San Diego did its pension problem, and it's not even looking for a solution as hard as you guys.

I say it's time for some rational thought. Einstein once defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result. Now, no matter how tempting it may be, I'm not going to call you lawmakers, law enforcers, and law deciders insane, but many of our laws are just that.

Take the increasingly draconian ones designed to protect us from drugs. They are not working, and we here near the border bear a special responsibility to look for solutions, and those solutions do not require more jails.

Yet, that's mostly what we're getting. Building jails is the biggest growth industry in California and the nation today. As it is, we have to build the things because we have more people per capita behind bars than any country in the world, and that's not cheap. We throw more money at the drug problem than any country in the world -- all this while various hallucinogens are more plentiful on the streets than ever before.

I wonder what I missed all these years. I never considered myself sheltered, but I had been in the Navy for 17 years before I even saw marijuana. Then I didn't even try it for another 10 years. After all that, rather than wanting to rape and kill as I'd been promised, I simply fell asleep. Now, another 20 years down the road I fall asleep without any artificial soporific.

So, where does rational thought come in to all this? First, we ought to pay attention to Albert and stop doing what doesn't work. Then we ought to try and figure out what does. That's pretty much the advice of Judge James Gray of Orange County. Judge Gray will be the guest of the San Diego Association for Rational Inquiry (SDARI) this coming Sunday evening at the Joyce Beers Center in Hillcrest.

Gray wrote a book about drugs,"Why Our Drug Laws Have Failed and What We Can Do About It -- A Judicial Indictment of the War on Drugs." He will be speaking courtesy of a group called Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP). No bleeding heart liberal, Judge Gray was a conservative Republican who was appointed to the bench, then to Superior Court by Governor Deukmejian.

The judge fits in well with the outfit sponsoring his talk. LEAP is comprised of police, parole, probation and corrections officers, judges, and prosecutors. It even has prison wardens, FBI and DEA agents to help make up their bureau of more than 100 speakers. LEAP is based in Medford, Conn.

Here is a blurb from their website: <i>The mission of LEAP is to reduce the multitude of harms resulting from fighting the war on drugs and to lessen the incidence of death, disease, crime, and addiction by ultimately ending drug prohibition.</i>

It aims to do this by:<ul class=postlist><li>Educating the public, the media, and policy makers about the failure of current drug policy by presenting a true picture of the history, causes and effects of drug use and the elevated crime rates -- more properly related to drug prohibition than to drug pharmacology -- and;</li>

<li>To restore the public's respect for police, which has been greatly diminished by law enforcement's involvement in imposing drug prohibition.</li></ul>So, movers and shakers of our community, please stop by the Joyce Beers Center this Sunday. I guarantee you'll learn something you can use. You might come up with a solution that will put you ahead of your contemporaries across the country. That would generate better publicity than a failed mayor, or a billion and half dollar debt.

And for the general public, of course the you are invited also. There's no charge. If you decide to come, please call your council person or supervisor and tell them you'd like to see them there. Doors open at 6 p.m., program starts at 7. Bring a sandwich and say hello.

<hr class=postrule>
<small>Keith Taylor is program chair for the San Diego Association for Rational Inquiry www.sdari.org He can be reached at KRTaylorxyz@aol.com</small>

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San Diego's tensions are high over medical marijuana

Postby palmspringsbum » Sat Nov 04, 2006 7:33 pm

KPBS News wrote:
San Diego's tensions are high over medical marijuana

Kenny Goldberg
KPBS News



KPBS SAN DIEGO (2006-09-07) Medical marijuana is legal in California, but some say you wouldn't know it in San Diego County. The Board of Supervisors is suing the state to overturn California's medical marijuana law. And the district attorney's office has worked with the DEA to close down all of the region's marijuana dispensaries. KPBS health reporter Kenny Goldberg has the story.

At a busy intersection in San Diego's Claremont area, there's a Coco's Restaurant, and a See's Candy shop. In a storefront just steps away, Jeff Meyer had been operating a medical marijuana dispensary.

But not anymore. Meyer says he had no choice but to close up shop earlier this summer, after his landlord got a call from a DEA agent.

Jeff Meyer: "And the guy said, your tenant is violating federal law, and if he doesn't shut his doors, we're going to come and arrest him. And that scared me enough to remain closed to this day."

In July, local law enforcement agencies and the DEA raided 13 dispensaries and arrested 15 people.

Meyer was one of ten other operators who just got a warning.

Today, there are no publicly operating medical marijuana dispensaries in San Diego County. And that suits deputy district attorney Damon Mosler just fine.

Mosler helped coordinate the crackdown. He says local dispensaries were selling to anyone. He offers an example.

Mosler: "A narcotics canine officer got a recommendation from a doctor. He went into the dispensary, filled out his dog's name in place of it. His dog was with him, he called his dog by name, and said I need some marijuana for Storm, and indeed they sold it to him. That doesn't seem right, I don't see my pharmacist at Rite-Aid or Savon selling me Vicadin for my cat."

But Jeff Meyer says that's not how he ran his business.

Meyer: "My shop not only called in the doctor's recommendations every time to verify that the patient was indeed a valid patient, but we even went a step further and verified the doctor's credentials online that his license was valid and current, and we kept records because, this is the best we thought we could do without any clear guidelines in San Diego."

The lack of clarity in the law itself is at the heart of the problem.

California's Prop 215 allows seriously ill patients to use marijuana with a doctor's permission. It allows patients or their caregivers to grow enough marijuana for medical use.

But there's a lot the law doesn't say.

Teresa Shilling is a spokeswoman for California Attorney General Bill Lockyer.

Teresa Shilling: "The law made it legal but it didn't really dictate how much marijuana is okay to have on hand for the patients, who and how is gonna supply that marijuana to patients. So it's created a lot of conflict between what is legal and what isn't legal."

State lawmakers tried to rectify the situation in 2003, when they approved SB 420.

The measure requires counties to launch an ID card program, to protect medical marijuana patients from arrest. It also allows local governments to establish guidelines for cooperatives, so that caregivers can get together to grow medicine for patients.

But the law doesn't mention dispensaries. And it doesn't legalize the buying or selling of marijuana.

Shilling concedes the law is confusing. But she says SB 420 does direct local governments to come up with ways for patients to access their medicine.

Shilling: "So that can come in a variety of different ways. Dispensaries or cooperatives are one way. So counties who shut down dispensaries or shut down cooperatives technically aren't restricting access."

But Craig McClain doesn't buy that argument. He's a long-time medical marijuana user who lives in Vista.

Craig McClain: "The dispensaries are closed therefore my access is denied. Cause I can't go on the street and look for it, and I can't grow it here, at home. I don't want to endanger my wife or my son."

McClain's spine was crushed in a workplace accident in the early 90's. He's used marijuana for years to ease chronic pain. Now, McClain says he's really suffering.

McClain: "Since I've been out of cannabis, I've noticed a lot of pressure on my spinal cord, extreme sweating attacks. I'm having no relief. Even with the hard medications that I have, I'm still barely able to try to get to sleep at night."

Deputy district attorney Damon Mosler says he sympathizes with patients. But he says the law is clear.

Mosler: "People are allowed to grow it. If you are too sick or unable to grow your own marijuana, you can designate someone who helps take care of you, to grow it for you. That is all the law allows."

Government officials in many other parts of California take a completely different view. Since SB 420 was approved, six counties and 24 cities have passed ordinances allowing dispensaries to operate.

Perhaps the biggest barrier to wider acceptance of medical marijuana is that California laws still conflict with federal laws.

And that's become the basis of a lawsuit against the state - filed by the San Diego County Board of Supervisors.

The supervisors are suing to overturn Prop 215 and SB 420 - arguing federal law making marijuana illegal should reign supreme.

A Superior Court judge is expected to issue a tentative ruling on the case in mid-November.

Kenny Goldberg, KPBS News.

© Copyright 2006, KPBS

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Word from cops: Just say no to tiny pipes

Postby palmspringsbum » Fri Nov 10, 2006 2:06 pm

The San Diego Union-Tribune wrote:Word from cops: Just say no to tiny pipes


<span class=postbigbold>Smoke shops told to discontinue sales</span>

By Anne Krueger
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
November 10, 2006
The San Diego Union-Tribune




<table class=posttable align=right width=280><tr><td class=postcell><img class=postimg src=bin/tiny-pipes.jpg></td></tr><tr><td class=postcap>El Cajon police recently delivered letters to the 12 smoke shops in the city, ordering them to stop selling small, narrow glass pipes they say are used only for smoking methamphetamine or crack cocaine. </td></tr></table>EL CAJON – The walls are lined with hookahs and tall water pipes. Beneath the glass counters, dozens of colorful ceramic pipes are on display.

But if a smoke shop customer suggests using any of the items for illegal drugs, store managers say they'll show that person the door. Their businesses are legitimate, they say, and the items they sell are only for use with tobacco.

Authorities say otherwise.

El Cajon police recently delivered letters to the 12 smoke shops in the city, ordering them to stop selling small, narrow glass pipes they say are used only for smoking methamphetamine or crack cocaine.

Sheriff's deputies delivered similar letters to stores in Lakeside and Santee, the start of the first such effort countywide.

“It's time to hold these businesses accountable for marketing products used to smoke illicit drugs,” said Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Gianera, a member of the county Methamphetamine Strike Force.

Gianera said the other devices sold in the stores – including water pipes and ceramic pipes – could be legally used by medical marijuana patients, so authorities decided not to target them for removal.

Possession of drug paraphernalia is a misdemeanor. Gianera said officers will return to the stores in a few weeks to see if the pipes have been removed.

Smoke shops have been targeted by officials in recent months, particularly in El Cajon. They are prohibited from opening in the downtown area, and in April the City Council passed restrictions banning new stores near residential areas, other smoke shops, schools, public parks, churches or the courthouse. The shops must also apply for a conditional-use permit.

The clampdown came after the Smoke Shop opened in late 2004 on Magnolia Avenue, which is in the city's redevelopment area and one of the main paths to downtown.

The two managers of the Magnolia Avenue store declined to give their names but said they pulled the pipes after they received the notice from police.

“It wasn't a big thing anyway,” one manager said.

Dee Martin, manager of Puff N Stuff on Chase Avenue, said he immediately removed the pipes when a police officer visited his store.

“It's not something we should have been selling,” he said. “We know what they're for. They bring in the wrong crowd.”

Donovan Small, manager of Up In Smoke on Broadway in El Cajon, said drug users will not be deterred by the removal of glass pipes from stores.

“It's not stopping any of the users,” he said. “It's just taking money from the smoke shops.”

The managers say they don't allow customers even to hint that their products are being used for drugs. At the entrance to Puff N Stuff, a sign reads: “No Joke – say the word bong and you are gone.” At Up In Smoke, a sign at the door says: “Any reference to these tobacco pipes by any other name shall have you removed from the store.”

El Cajon police Officer Rich Gonsalves doesn't buy the store managers' claims that their products are intended only for legitimate uses. He said most people who buy water pipes aren't aiming to filter tobacco.

“From a law enforcement perspective, we find people smoke marijuana out of these things,” he said.

Gonsalves said he had varied reactions from store employees when he handed them letters ordering them to remove the pipes. Some said they didn't sell the glass pipes or agreed to stop selling them, and others were more reluctant, he said.

Although the managers insisted their businesses are legitimate, they said they can't police their customers.

“It's not my job to know what they do with the merchandise after they leave the store,” Small said.



<hr class=postrule>
Anne Krueger: (619) 593-4962; anne.krueger@uniontrib.com

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County, medical marijuana users head to showdown

Postby palmspringsbum » Sun Nov 12, 2006 2:37 pm

The North County Times wrote:Sunday, November 12, 2006
Last modified Saturday, November 11, 2006 11:26 PM PST

County, medical marijuana users head to showdown

By: GIG CONAUGHTON - Staff Writer
The North County Times

SAN DIEGO ---- The people have approved it. Government has struggled with it. And this week, the county of San Diego will mount an attack to overturn it.

It is California's 10-year-old, voter-approved "Compassionate Use Act," the law that says seriously ill people should be able to use marijuana to ease their pain and suffering.

On Thursday, a Superior Court judge will weigh a San Diego County lawsuit filed nearly a year ago that seeks to overturn the law on the grounds that California's voter-approved law should be pre-empted by federal law, which says all marijuana use is illegal.

San Diego County supervisors, in a move that angered medical marijuana patients and advocacy groups, and led by Supervisors Bill Horn, Dianne Jacob and Pam Slater-Price, voted to file suit to overturn the Compassionate Use Act in December.

Medical marijuana supporters say the drug can help a host of patients by easing pain and stimulating appetites to battle malnourishment for chronically ill persons.

Opponents say even if marijuana has some medicinal value, it is still a dangerous drug and California's law could lead to drug abuse.

State officials who will defend the law in court said they are confident that they will prevail, and that the county's challenge is old-hat, legally speaking, and will probably rejected. But county officials said last week that they, too, were confident.

Caught in the middle of the legal tussle are thousands of people who say they are sick or hurt, and that marijuana is the only drug that can help them cope.

"I can't believe I'm having to go through this all over again," Craig McClain, a Vista resident, business owner, husband, father and spinal-cord injury victim, said recently. "I feel like my vote never counted. They don't understand my pain."

Meanwhile, both supporters and opponents of the Compassionate Use Act say the county challenge is the most direct attack ever launched on the law. While it has been challenged in court before, no one has ever tried to get the law overthrown.

And, supporters and opponents say that the court decision handed down could also affect medical marijuana laws approved by voters in 10 other states.

<span class=postbold>Limbo</span>

Even though 55 percent of California's voters approved Proposition 215, the Compassionate Use Act, in 1996, it's still largely a law in limbo.

The federal government has challenged it in court, although it has never tried to completely overturn it. And state and local governments have done little to implement it.

Prop. 215 was relatively short and simple as state ballot measures go.

It said "seriously ill" people ---- people with cancer, anorexia, AIDS, spasticity, glaucoma, arthritis, migraines or other chronic illnesses ---- had a legal right to obtain or grow, and use marijuana for medical purposes when recommended by a doctor.

The law also mandated that doctors not be punished for recommending the drug. And it said the federal and state governments should work together "to implement a plan to provide for the safe and affordable distribution of marijuana to all patients in medical need."

But a month after Prop. 215 was passed, the Clinton administration announced that doctors who recommended marijuana would lose their federal licenses and could be prosecuted criminally by federal prosecutors.

The Bush administration continued that threat after President Clinton left office. However, it was eventually ruled illegal by a federal appeals court in 2002. But, the Bush administration has continued its aggressive stance toward California's law, and federal agents have raided dispensaries and carried out arrests.

<span class=postbold>State resistance</span>

Meanwhile, Prop. 215 has faced threats from within the state. If backers of the law thought the measure would give medical marijuana patients blanket protection from being arrested by state law enforcement officers, they were wrong.

Just days after Prop. 215 was passed, then-California Attorney General Dan Lungren issued a release to all law enforcement officers in the state. Lungren opposed the law, and actually wrote part of the ballot argument against Prop. 215. The release said that state law enforcement officers could still arrest people found growing, or in possession of, marijuana ---- even if they claimed to be medical marijuana patients.

Lungren said Prop. 215 only gave medical marijuana patients an "affirmative defense" if they were arrested.

"He was basically saying, 'Arrest them and ask questions later,' " William Dolphin, a spokesman for Americans for Safe Access, a medical marijuana advocacy group, said last week.

Current state Attorney General Bill Lockyer has been more empathetic to the medical marijuana issue. However, officials from his office said last week that the state's official position remains that Prop. 215 only offers medical marijuana patients an "affirmative defense" in court ---- and that they can still be arrested by state law enforcement officers.

Dolphin, however, said that the aggressiveness of law enforcement officials around the state has eased. Just last year, the California Highway Patrol reached a court settlement with Americans for Safe Access for Highway Patrol officers to consider medical marijuana identification cards, or notes from doctors, when they discover patients with marijuana.

<span class=postbold>Still up in the air</span>

However, a fundamental part of the Prop. 215 saga is still up in the air. The 1996 law urged state and federal legislators to find a way to safely and affordably dispense medical marijuana to patients who need it.

That hasn't really happened. Medical marijuana dispensaries have opened ---- and closed ---- around the state. But lawmakers never really came up with a dispensary plan.

In 2003, state legislators punted the issue over to local governments. Lawmakers passed Senate Bill 420, which directed counties to create medical marijuana registries and to issue identification cards. The law, which took effect in 2004, also stipulated how much marijuana patients and caregivers could actually possess. The basic idea was that the cards would make it easier for law enforcement officials and medical marijuana patients.

Peace officers would be able to tell who the legitimate medical marijuana patients were by checking identification cards. And patients would have a way to prove that they were legitimately using the drug.

<span class=postbold>San Diego County</span>

But that's where San Diego County supervisors ---- who formally opposed Prop. 215 when it was placed on the ballot in 1996 ---- drew their line in the sand.

In November 2005, a torn Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 to defy SB 420, and refuse to create the county's medical marijuana registry and ID card program.

The board's majority, Horn, Jacob and Slater-Price, said complying with the state's order would tell children that marijuana was OK and lead to increased drug abuse.

A month later, the board voted 4-0 in closed session, with Supervisor Ron Roberts absent, to sue to overturn Prop. 215 itself.

Meanwhile, over the last year, the county district attorney's office has adopted the supervisors' aggressive stance toward the law. Over the summer, local law enforcement officials helped federal drug enforcement officials crack down on, and "essentially shut down," all local medical marijuana dispensaries.

McClain, whose spine was crushed several years ago in a construction-related accident, and who has used marijuana for years to ease the chronic severe spasms the injury created, said the crackdown has been tough on patients.

"I've been using Marinol (synthetic marijuana) more, but without results," he said Friday. "A lot of people are suffering. It (Marinol) surely doesn't work like God's creation. And it's expensive. They're $15 a pill."

Interestingly, the county's lawsuit asks the court to overturn every facet of Prop. 215 and SB 420 with one exception ---- the section of Prop. 215 that says that it is legal in California for an individual patient or caregiver to possess or cultivate marijuana.

However, that appears to be a legal maneuver. Officials from the state attorney general's office said no judge would overturn that section because states are given the absolute right to create their own laws recognizing the legality of a drug. However, they and county lawyers said the county's lawsuit would gut the actual mechanisms that make Prop. 215 viable. If successful, the only marijuana that would be legal would essentially be "miracle marijuana" ---- nobody grew it, or dispensed it, one observer said.

Ironically, the county's pending lawsuit ---- or the ruling that could come Thursday ---- could possibly make it easier for medical marijuana patients.

If the judge rules against the county, it would seem that supervisors would then have no choice but to institute the identification card program, and ease off on dispensaries.

However, the county could win its case ---- and throw the medical marijuana issue into a whole new world of doubt in California and around the country.

But the more likely situation, officials said, is that Thursday is just the first shot in a longer battle. Any judgment is likely to be appealed. And many feel that it's very likely that the Supreme Court will end up being the final arbiter.

Contact staff writer Gig Conaughton at (760) 739-6696 or gconaughton@nctimes.com.

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San Diego County board votes to appeal medical marijuana

Postby palmspringsbum » Tue Dec 12, 2006 6:56 pm

The San Jose Mercury News wrote:Posted on Tue, Dec. 12, 2006

San Diego County board votes to appeal medical marijuana ruling

The San Jose Mercury News

SAN DIEGO - The San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to appeal a judge's recent decision to reject the county's challenge to California's decade-old law legalizing marijuana use by the chronically ill.

The county sued California and its health services director in February over a state requirement that counties issue identification cards for medical marijuana users and maintain a registry of people who apply for the cards. San Bernardino and Merced counties joined the suit.

The counties argued that local governments shouldn't be bound to uphold state laws that are weaker than the federal blanket ban on marijuana.

Superior Court Judge William R. Nevitt Jr. ruled last week that county officials would not be breaking federal law by giving out state identification cards.

Marijuana users in California can still be prosecuted under federal drug laws.

Fifty-five percent of California voters approved the law in a 1996 vote. Since then, 10 other states have adopted measures protecting qualified patients from prosecution: Alaska, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.

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Time to take pot back to the polls?

Postby palmspringsbum » Thu Dec 28, 2006 1:44 pm

The North County Times wrote:Last modified Wednesday, December 13, 2006 7:47 PM PST


Time to take pot back to the polls?

By: JIM TRAGESER - Staff Writer
The North County Times

Democracy in action, it surely isn't.

I'm not entirely clear whose interests the politicos on the San Diego County Board of Supervisors think they're representing when they file suit to overturn a law passed by the voters.

In fact, it's not particularly clear that they know what they're doing.

Earlier this week, the supervisors decided to appeal a court ruling that had dismissed the county's lawsuit against a state law that legalized medicinal use of marijuana.

The supes' argument, such as it is, goes like this: Since federal law still bans marijuana, the county should not be bound by state law allowing it. That, in fact, the state law should be thrown out.

The judge who heard the initial round in this ridiculous bout of political posturing ---- you do all realize we're paying for the lawyers on both sides of this lawsuit? ---- ruled that since the state law doesn't prohibit or interfere with federal agents from enforcing federal law within California, that the Compassionate Use Act does not violate federal law.

It simply contradicts it.

While such a contradiction between state and federal law might drive a legal philosopher around the bend with its lack of consistency, the rest of us ought to be able to live with it.

Particularly those we elect to carry out our wishes.

And it's not as if San Diego voters disagreed with the rest of the state: The Compassionate Use Act was created by ballot measure in 1996, and some 52 percent of San Diego County voters supported it. (Statewide, the measure passed with 54 percent support.)

That's still a majority, no?

On the other hand, this is at least partially our own fault ---- we did, after all, elect the folks currently sitting on the Board of Supervisors and thumbing their noses at us. And spending tens of thousands of our dollars on a lawsuit that basically tells us where to stick our silly little ideas on democracy.

Obviously, Bill Horn's handy re-election last summer in the face of his unwillingness to abide by voters' decisions means that the supes have little to fear in terms of backlash on this issue. Yes, we in the electorate want medicinal use of pot to be legal ---- but we're not going to get all worked up over it and throw anyone out of office for defying us.

So the ongoing requests from medical use activists for the county to drop this asinine lawsuit are likely to fall on deaf (or at least hubristic) ears.

Does that leave the rest of us ---- those who still believe in things like democracy and, oh, I don't know, sanity maybe? ---- with no options?

Not necessarily.

Perhaps another ballot measure, this one directing the Board of Supervisors to drop the lawsuit against the Compassionate Use Act and obey its provisions, could be placed before county voters.

Assuming voters haven't changed their minds since the state measure was passed a decade ago, it might be that such a vote would be a clear enough message that even our local supervisors could understand it.

And hopefully act on it.

-- Contact staff writer Jim Trageser at (760) 631-6628 or jtrageser@nctimes.com.

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New Brief in Medical Marijuana Challenge

Postby palmspringsbum » Sat Dec 22, 2007 9:46 pm

Fox 6 San Diego wrote:New Brief in Medical Marijuana Challenge

Fox 6 San Diego
Last Update: 12/18 6:30 pm


A group of California medical marijuana patients Tueday filed a legal brief opposing San Diego County's attempt to overturn state law on the issue.

In February 2006, San Diego County filed a lawsuit challenging the state requirement to implement an identification card program for qualified medical marijuana patients and their primary caregivers.

The county of San Diego argued that most of the medical marijuana laws in the state are preempted by the federal Controlled Substances Act.

San Diego County was joined in its lawsuit by San Bernardino and Merced counties.

In December 2006, San Diego Superior Court Judge William Nevitt Jr. ruled there is no positive conflict between federal and state law and affirmed the sovereignty of state law.

The counties of San Diego and San Bernardino appealed in February, but Merced County decided to implement an ID card program and a new sheriff's policy with regard to medical marijuana.

Less than two weeks ago, the city of San Diego filed a brief in support of the medical marijuana patients, asserting that the medical marijuana ID card program does not conflict with federal law and there is no excuse for the county's failure to implement the state-law mandated program.

The patients' brief was filed today by Americans for Safe Access, a nationwide medical marijuana advocacy organization.

The ASA said it is in a good position on appeal, since the California Fourth Appellate District -- the same appellate court that will hear the county of San Diego's appeal -- recently ruled in an Orange County case that state law was neither "preempted" nor "superseded" and stated further that "it is not the job of the local police to enforce the federal drug laws."

A hearing is expected on San Diego County's appeal of its lawsuit sometime next year.
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Patients raise new landmark legal case

Postby palmspringsbum » Sat Dec 22, 2007 11:46 pm

Americans for Safe Access wrote:For Immediate Release: December 18th, 2007
Americans for Safe Access

Medical Marijuana Patients, City of San Diego Reject County's Claim of Federal Preemption

<span class=postbigbold>Patients raise new landmark legal case as City of San Diego announces strong support for state law</span>



San Diego, CA -- A group of medical marijuana patients from across California filed a legal brief today using two new legal arguments that oppose San Diego County's attempt to overturn state law. The patients' brief, filed by Americans for Safe Access (ASA), a nationwide medical marijuana advocacy organization, came only days after the City of San Diego filed an amicus, "friend of the court," brief in support of patients and in opposition to the county's legal challenge.

San Diego County filed a lawsuit in February 2006 challenging the state requirement to implement an identification card program for qualified medical marijuana patients and their primary caregivers. San Diego County was subsequently joined in its lawsuit by San Bernardino and Merced Counties. The California Attorney General is defending state law in the case, and ASA is defending the interests of patients in San Diego and across the state. The ACLU also represents other defendants in the case.

In December 2006, San Diego Superior Court Judge William Nevitt, Jr. ruled that there is no "positive conflict" between federal and state law, affirming the sovereignty of state law. The Counties of San Diego and San Bernardino appealed in February, but Merced decided instead to implement an ID card program and a new Sheriff's policy with regard to medical marijuana.

"With a recent appellate court decision rejecting the argument that federal law preempts state law and now support from the City of San Diego," said ASA Chief Counsel, author of the patients' brief filed today. "We're in a prime position to prevail." Elford continued, "The shame is that the County of San Diego continues to waste valuable time and taxpayer money at the expense of seriously ill patients in California."

In a stinging rebuke to San Diego County's challenge to state law, the City of San Diego filed a brief less than two weeks ago, which strongly asserted that, "The identification card program does not conflict with federal law, so there is no excuse for the County's failure to implement this state-law mandated program."

San Diego County's main legal argument, that federal law preempts state law, was also dealt a recent blow in California's Fourth Appellate District, the same appellate court that will hear this case. In the November 28th ruling in City of Garden Grove v. Superior Court of Orange County, the court held that state law was neither "preempted" nor "superseded" and stated further that, "it is not the job of the local police to enforce the federal drug laws..."

In addition to citing the City of Garden Grove decision in the appellate brief filed today, patients used a new legal argument related to firearm laws in the Sate of Massachusetts. In 1969, Massachusetts adopted a law that allows felons residing in the state to possess firearms, despite a prohibition on such conduct under federal law. Like California's medical marijuana law, Massachusetts implemented an ID card program, which has existed for nearly 40 years without a successful legal challenge by state or federal courts.

<span class=postbold>For further information, refer to: </span>
<ul class=postlist><li>ASA's appellate brief filed today on behalf of patients in opposition to the appeal by San Diego County</li>

<li>City of San Diego amicus "friend of the court" brief in opposition to the appeal San Diego County </li>

<li>December 2006 Superior Court ruling rejecting San Diego County's challenge to state law</li>

<li>Merced's new Sheriff's policy as a result of the San Diego Superior Court ruling</li>

<li>November 2007 Appellate Court ruling in City of Garden Grove v. Superior Court of Orange County</li></ul>
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11 to 1 to aquit but it's Re-trial for MMJ Patient

Postby palmspringsbum » Sun Jan 20, 2008 10:52 pm

IndyBay wrote:11 to 1 to aquit but it's Re-trial for MMJ Patient Nathan Archer.

IndyBay
by Nathaniel D. Archer ( ndasummer [at] hotmail.com )
Thursday Jan 17th, 2008 12:55 PM

<span class=postbigbold>Prosecutorial misconduct and malicious prosecuting at it's finest, as displayed by 'San Diegos Finest'.</span>


My name is Nathan Archer,

I am a medical marijuana patient and born and raised in San Diego. Last year,(2007), I went through a jury trial that ended up with the numerical breakdown being 11 to 1 to acquit on both counts alleged against me. This year, (2008), I am being re-tried for the same crime that was alleged against me. My next trial will be set on Jan 22, 2008 Division 11 8:30 am at the Superior Court of San Diego Central Division,(the one on Broadway).

Below is a summary of my case, highlighting most of the events that ocurred, it is a condensed version yet still a bit lengthy. Thank you for taking the time to read it.

The following include the alleged charges against me and supportive evidence not only of my innocence, but including some of the prosecutorial misconduct and malicious prosecution exhibited by the County of San Diego.

<span class=postbigbold>Misconduct: Detective Schuyler Boyce </span>

During the telephonic request for a search warrant there was no referrance that the marijuana garden found at my residence potentially could be a legal medicinal marijuana garden. Supportive evidence: The Superior Court of the State of California, County of San Diego, North County Division Telephonic Search Warrant Index No. 133-06: Pages 1 - 4

During his investigation there was no referrance that any neighbors stated there was excessive trafficing at my residence. Nor did Det. Boyce claim to have found any scales, baggies, credit or debt lists, phone numbers/calls, or any typical "drug dealeing" elements.

There was evidence that the marijuana garden at my residence was a medicinal marijuana garden. Detective Boyce reported that there was a statement of such on my garage wall and cards referring to "MEDI-CLONES" and the statement by Denk that I was growing for "sick people".

Quoted from Det. Boyces' Investigator's Report Subject: Notify Warrant For Archer

"... On the garage wall I found a Medical Cannabis form letter, it did not include a name or signature."

<span class=postbold>Det. Boyce aslo stated in his report: </span>

"On April 11, 2006, I talked with Denk on the telephone. Denk stated that she had recently talked with her son, Nathaniel Archer. Archer had told Denk that it was OK for him to grow marijuana because he provided it to sick people..."

Det. Boyce claimed to have "found 98 marijuana plants in seperate containers, in the southwest bedroom." He or other officers took pictures of the plants in the Southwest bedroom but the pictures do not show anywhere near 98 plants, instead the pictures show 30 marijuana plants as stated by Officer Pam Rowlett. Supportive evidence: The Superior Court of the State of California, County of San Diego, North County Division Telephonic Search Warrant Index No. 133-06: Page 2

All these facts yet the self proclaimed Expert on marijuana cultivation and possesion for sales Detective Boyces' last statement on his Investigator's Report is: " Based upon the evidence discovered I request Nathaniel Archer be charged with the above listed charges. " Detective Boyce was referring to CA H&S 11358, 11359.

<span class=postbigbold>Misconduct: District Attorney Robert Bruce </span>

Count 1. ) Cultivation of 98 marijuana plants. {alleged violation of CA H&S Code 11358}

The District Attorney acknowledged I was a qualified, verified medical marijuana patient to the court.

Ipso Facto, I can not be held criminally liable for the criminal charges alleged against me.

Supportive Evidence: CA H&S Code 11362.765. (a) Subject to the requirements of this article, the individuals specified in subdivision (b) shall not be subject, on that sole basis, to criminal liability under Section 11357, 11358, 11359, 11360, 11366, 11366.5, or 11570.

CA H&S Code 11362.77(b) If a qualified patient or primary caregiver has a doctor's recommendation that this quantity does not meet the qualified patient's medical needs, the qualified patient or primary caregiver may possess an amount of marijuana consistent with the patient's needs.

<span class=postbold>Evidence of the D.A.s malicious prosecuting: </span>

D.A. Bruce charged me with cultivation of 98 plants, according to the Superior Court of the State of California, County of San Diego, North County Division Telephonic Search Warrant Index No. 133-06:

SDPD patrol officer Pam Rowlett ID # 6096 arrived and "discovered approximately 30 planted marijuana plants......." She was later confirmed by Detective Schuyler Boyce.

Supportive Evidence: The evidence submitted by the prosecuting attorney included pictures of all of the plants found at my residence, showing much less than 98 in fact it was much closer to 30, like the SDPD officer estimated on the report.

Count 2. ) Possession of 780 grams of processed marijuana. {alleged violation of CA H&S Code 11359}.

The prosecuting District Attorney admitted I was a valid medical marijuana patient.

Ipso Facto, I can not be held criminally liable for the criminal charges alleged against me.

Supportive Evidence: CA H&S Code 11362.765. (a), CA H&S Code 11362.71(e) and CA H&S Code 11362.77(b).

The D.A. Bruce supplied a blown up picture of a baking dish with marijuana leafs,(not flowers), which he referred to as "processed marijuana". None of the plants in the pictures displayed signs of flowering and there were no flowers found at my residence.

Supportive Evidence: CA H&S Code 11362.77(d), ..only the female flowers or plant conversion are to be considered when determining allowable quantities

<span class=postbigbold>Evidence the DA willfully disregard the law: </span>

When the jurors were dismissed they had an opportunity to ask and answer questions with the prosecuting and defending attorneys. The prosecutor, Robert Bruce, was asked the same question three times by different jurors. Finally, the third time, it came at him point blank,"When you learned that Mr. Archer was a valid Medical Marijuana Patient, why did you continue prosecuting him?" San Diego County District Attorney Robert Bruce threw up his hands and replied," Well personally I think this whole medical marijuana thing is a bunch of poppycock." and walked away. (this was witnessed by the remaining 11 jurors, my counsel, Mr. Reyes with his counsel and myself.)


<span class=postbold>Misconduct: Judge Margie Woods </span>

The judge, before instructing the jury, allowed in their absence, CALCRIM to be modified with CALJIC, ( According to Related California Jury Instructions, Criminal (CALJIC)

The CALJIC and CALCRIM instructions should never be used together. While the legal principles are obviously the same, the organization of concepts is approached differently. Trying to mix the two sets of instructions into a unified whole cannot be done and may result in omissions or confusion that could severely compromise clarity and accuracy.). Supportive evidence is CALCRIM No. 200 where she made the adaptation she would be providing 2 copies to the jury.

The Judge would only allow California Health and Safety Code 11362.77 a) and would be excluding b),c),d),e)and (f). [ An effort to convince the jurors that I was cultivating in excess of the law and the leaf I had was to be considered as processed marijuana.]

The prosecuting D.A. had already acknowledged to the court that I was a legitimate medical marijuana patient, therefore; have no support for a case against me. The jury declared they were deadlocked at 11 to 1 on both counts in my favor.

The Judge, [disregarding of the laws that I am protected by CA H&S Code 11362.765. (a), 11362.71(e), and 11362.77(b)], declared a mistrial.

<span class=postbigbold>Plea of: Nathan Archer </span>

The law is the law and until it is changed it is to be obeyed as the law, but San Diego County is not only disregarding the law, { as my case clearly shows}, they're making their own as well. Recently the Mayor of the City of San Diego, showing support for the will of the people, submitted an 'amicus brief' yet the County continues wasting tax dollars with its attacks on innocent patients like me.

I am requesting your assistance in organizing a class action law suit against San Diego County. Including but not limited to Qualifiable Medical Marijuana Patients, their Care Givers, their Doctors and non-patients land owners who have had their freedom and/or property threatened to be seized or seized by San Diego County.

We can get organized and unite. It isn't often that we have a case so maliciously prosecuted with such clear prosecutorial misconduct to work with.


<span class=postbold>Please contact me with your suggestions at: </span>

ndasummer [at] hotmail.com

Peace,
Nathan Archer.

(Here are a few links to articles about my case so far.
http://cbs2.com/local/Medical.Marijuana ... 22330.html
http://sandiego.indymedia.org/es/2007/02/125106.shtml
http://sandiego.indymedia.org/en/2007/07/127029.shtml )
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Feds raid suspected pot houses

Postby palmspringsbum » Wed Jan 23, 2008 2:26 pm

The North County Times wrote:
Feds raid suspected pot houses

The North County Times
By: DAN SIMMONS - Staff Writer
January 23, 2008

<table class=posttable align=right width=300><tr><td class=postcell><img class=postimg width=300 src=bin/buckets_blue.jpg alt="Federal and local officers remove marijuana growing equipment Tuesday from a home in the 300 block of Camino de los Flores."></td></tr></table>ENCINITAS -- Federal authorities seized 440 marijuana plants, arrested three people and confiscated two vehicles Tuesday in a raid of residential marijuana growing operations at multiple residences across San Diego County, Drug Enforcement Administration spokeswoman Eileen Zeidler said.

Zeidler declined to specify the locations or suspects, citing the ongoing investigation. One of the raids occurred in Encinitas at 305 Camino de las Flores, part of a well-kept middle-class neighborhood.

At least a dozen law-enforcement officials were collecting evidence at the house Tuesday morning and early afternoon. A neighbor reported seeing agents carrying out about 100 plants in the early morning. Two BMW automobiles parked in the driveway were later towed.

Plainclothes federal agents, aided by San Diego County Sheriff's deputies, also seized a wide assortment of materials commonly associated with marijuana growth: blue one-gallon buckets, ventilation and odor-reduction equipment, growing lights, industrial fans and pumps. They stacked the materials in a panel truck, nearly filling it.

Zeidler said the DEA's Narcotics Task Force, a multiagency law enforcement effort with two units in North County, coordinated the raids. They obtained sealed search warrants for the properties, although Zeidler didn't say where or when the warrants were obtained.

The suspects arrested face state charges of possession and cultivation of marijuana and theft of services for allegedly stealing electricity and gas required to operate the grow houses, Zeidler said.
<table class=posttable align=right width=300><tr><td class=postcell><img class=postimg width=300 src=bin/raided-grow-site.jpg alt="Federal and local officers remove marijuana growing equipment Tuesday from a home in the 300 block of Camino de los Flores."></td></tr></table>
She said more arrests are expected, but did not specify details.

So-called hydroponic marijuana, grown inside, typically has a much higher street value than outdoor plants, Zeidler said, because growers can control temperature, lighting and moisture levels. A pound of marijuana grown indoors fetches about $3,000 to $4,500 depending on the plant, she said.

Raids on indoor grow sites are not uncommon. Last year, federal agents raided 66 indoor grow houses countywide, up slightly from 59 in 2006, Zeidler said. Although Tuesday's raids were larger than most, Zeidler said she "didn't think it was going to be record-breaking" in total plants seized.

As agents carried out the growing materials Tuesday morning, a neighbor cradling a white dog in his arms approached the agents and thanked them, saying he was glad to see his tax dollars at work.

Contact staff writer Dan Simmons at (760) 740-5426 or dsimmons@nctimes.com.

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County asks U.S. to erase state's medical marijuna law

Postby palmspringsbum » Sat Jan 17, 2009 2:51 am

The North County Times wrote:County asks U.S. Supreme Court to erase state's medical marijuana law

<span class=postbigbold>Officials argue federal law against its use trumps state's OK</span>

By TERI FIGUEROA - Staff Writer
Friday, January 16, 2009 6:08 PM PST
The North County Times


San Diego County filed papers this week asking the U.S. Supreme Court to erase California's medical marijuana law, arguing that federal prohibitions outlawing the substance supersede California's law allowing sick people to use it.

The county is asking the nation's highest court to overturn a state appellate court's July decision upholding the voter-approved law legalizing marijuana use for medicinal purposes.

"You have a conflict here between federal and state law, and we are in the middle," 5th District Supervisor Bill Horn said Friday. "What we have been asking all along is which takes precedence here. We will take it as far as we can take it and get a definitive answer."

Horn's district encompasses much of North County.

County officials sued the state in 2006, arguing that federal law that makes marijuana illegal should trump the 1996 passage of state Proposition 215, which legalized it for patients to use with a prescription. Patients who use marijuana say it helps them treat chronic pain.

In July, California's 4th District Court of Appeal handed medical marijuana users a victory when it rejected the county's contention that the state law flies in the face of federal pot prohibitions. The appellate court found that the purpose of the federal law "is to combat recreational drug use, not to regulate a state's medical practices."

In October, the California Supreme Court rejected the county's request that it review the ruling. That left the county with the option of asking the nation's highest court to step in.

San Diego Deputy County Counsel Tom Bunton said the U.S. Supreme Court might decide by June if it will take the case.

The county's filing was met with a thumbs down but no surprise from Adam Wolf, the lead attorney for medical marijuana patients opposed to the challenge. Wolf on Friday called the county's request "a waste" of taxpayers' money.

"This is an ill-fated and doomed lawsuit," Wolf said. "These are the same recycled arguments that have been rejected by the Superior Court, the Court of Appeals and the California Supreme Court.

"With each day that San Diego does not comply with the state's medical marijuana laws, the medical marijuana patients needlessly suffer."

Wolf, with the American Civil Liberties Union, represents the San Diego chapter of NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. NORML is a defendant in the county's suit.

San Bernardino County, which has worked with San Diego during the battle, also filed a similar writ.

There also is a battle over a 2003 directive from state legislators calling for counties to create medical marijuana identification cards. Thus far, San Diego County has declined to issue such cards, even though the appellate court said in its July ruling that issuing the state-mandated cards would not put counties in conflict with federal law.

County attorney Bunton said "the state has not established any deadline whereby the counties have to begin issuing the ID cards."

Wolf said that as many as two-thirds of California's counties have started issuing ID cards to medical marijuana patients.

<small>Contact staff writer Teri Figueroa at (760) 740-5442 or tfigueroa@nctimes.com.</small>
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TEMECULA: Looking over their shoulder

Postby palmspringsbum » Sun Apr 05, 2009 2:45 pm

The North County Times wrote:Last modified Saturday, April 4, 2009 6:57 PM PDT

TEMECULA: Looking over their shoulder

The North County Times
By AARON CLAVERIE - Staff Writer


TEMECULA ---- The owners of the area's smoke shops are a little paranoid. And it has nothing to do with marijuana.

In January, the El Cajon Police Department raided seven smoke shops that were selling small hand-held pipes and large water pipes, the smoking accessories that got both Tommy Chong and Michael Phelps in trouble. Late last year, shops in San Diego County's Imperial Beach, Vista, San Marcos, Imperial Beach and Escondido were hit.

According to the state's Health and Safety Code, normally innocuous items such as envelopes, balloons, blenders, bowls, containers and spoons can all be considered drug paraphernalia if they are intended for use with drugs.

The code also lists some of the more common items associated with drug use: pipes such as chillums, bongs, roach clips, syringes, cocaine spoons and cocaine vials.

In Temecula, two stores on Jefferson Avenue sell handhelds and water pipes, and plenty of other stores and shops in Southwest County offer similar products. Some of the local stores also have locations in San Diego County. The owners and managers of the stores with San Diego County locations turned down requests for comment. Other store owners didn't want to comment, in part to avoid stirring up any local public protest.

A Murrieta shop owner, who spoke on the condition that her name would not be used, said she has been following the legal action in San Diego County and, like many of her colleagues, she would like to know whether local law enforcement agencies are considering a similar type of campaign.

"It could be easily done here as well," she said.

If a similar raid were staged here, the owner said, most, if not all, of the area's smoke shop businesses would go under because of loss of revenue from the sale of glass water pipes, which can cost hundreds of dollars.

Losing her inventory, which includes dozens of colorful handheld pipes, hookahs and tall water pipes encased in glass cabinets, would "absolutely kill us," she said.

In the El Cajon raids, officers seized more than 15,000 items they say are evidence, a staggering amount of merchandise worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

El Cajon police Lt. Steve Shakowski said in a recent phone interview that the department's officers, assisted by a coalition of law enforcement agencies, removed everything except for hookahs, the communal smoking devices that allow a party of smokers to enjoy flavored tobacco.

"We took pretty much everything that would be typically considered for illegal purposes," he said.

The list of contraband, which authorities put in storage until the smoke shop owners have their day in court, included numerous items that could be used for smoking tobacco.

"I've been in law enforcement for 25 years ---- 11 in narcotics ---- and I've never seen anything other than marijuana or hash being smoked in those pipes," Shakowski said.

Before giving the go-ahead for the raid, the Police Department and the San Diego County district attorney's office gave the shops fair warning, he said. Each shop was sent a letter detailing the legal risks associated with selling specific products that could be considered paraphernalia.

Of the six smoke shops in El Cajon contacted, five continued to sell the products, Shakowski said.

Paul Levikow, a spokesman for the San Diego County district attorney's office, pointed to the state's Health and Safety Code as the legal undergirding for the office's case.

According to the code, anything "designed for use or intended for use" can be defined as paraphernalia.

As for the long-standing claim that the pipes and water pipes sold in smoke shops are supposed to be used for tobacco, Levikow said the design of some of the smoking devices scuttles the argument.

"You aren't going to put tobacco in a single-hitter," he said, referring to the small pipes that are often used to smoke a small bud of marijuana.

Allen St. Pierre, executive director of a national organization that lobbies for the reform of marijuana laws, said there is nothing intrinsically illegal about a pipe.

Contacted at his Washington, D.C., office, St. Pierre said an object can't be paraphernalia until is used, making the recent raids in San Diego the equivalent of "thought crimes."

"I cannot believe that when this gets to the courts, it will stand," he said.

St. Pierre said California state law allows for the use of medical marijuana, making anything that's used to smoke that marijuana a "medical delivery device."

While local smoke shop owners might be nervous in advance of the upcoming court dates, St. Pierre said they won't be abandoned if they encounter legal troubles.

There are attorneys throughout California who are members of the marijuana reform movement, and he said they will mount a vigorous defense on behalf of the San Diego County smoke shop owners.

As for the local shops, Temecula Police Chief Jerry Williams said his officers routinely visit the city's smoke shops to look at the items for sale, and he said the visits have not raised questions about the stores' practices.

"There is no history of problems here," he said.

Contact staff writer Aaron Claverie at (951) 676-4315, Ext. 2624, or aclaverie@californian.com.

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REGION: Affidavits offer reasons for North County pot raids

Postby palmspringsbum » Mon Oct 12, 2009 12:20 pm

The North County Times wrote:The North County Times - Californian

REGION: Affidavits offer reasons for North County pot raids

<span class="postbigbold">Three North County medical marijuana dispensaries hit last month</span>

TERI FIGUEROA - tfigueroa@nctimes.com | Posted: Saturday, October 10, 2009 8:20 pm

The new customer brought in his doctor's OK for medical marijuana. He bought an eighth of an ounce of the herb for $60 in the little Vista dispensary and got a pot-laced brownie for $12.

James Stacy, the man who ran the pot shop ---- which provided medical marijuana to patients with a legitimate recommendation from a medical doctor ---- explained to the new guy how it was, in his opinion, legal for him to make the sale.

The shop, Movement in Action, was a collective organization, and all the new customer had to do was become a member, Stacy reportedly said.

But this was no regular patient seeking medical marijuana. This was an undercover sheriff's detective tasked with checking to see if the pot shop was violating drug laws.

And what the investigator found at the Vista shop during that July visit, and two subsequent visits, served as the basis for search warrants to raid the place in September.

The story of what happened at Movement in Action this summer comes from a court document known as a search warrant affidavit. And the tale it tells is similar to the events that played out at two other North County shops also raided by authorities as suspected store fronts for illicit pot dealing. The undercover operations at the other two sites also were detailed in search warrant affidavits obtained by the North County Times.

Bottom line: Simply joining a collective may not be good enough to meet the bar set by state law.

The legal issue appears to be the relationship between the patient and the pot provider. Authorities contend in search warrant affidavits that pot salespeople flouted the law by failing to establish a "real and meaningful" patient/caregiver relationship with the person to whom they provided marijuana.

Investigators said the shops served as little more than fronts for illegal drug sales to recreational users.

Supporters of the store owners contend the shops were following state guidelines and only provided pot to ailing people with a medical doctor's OK to possess and use it.

Stacy, a 45-year-old Vista resident, has thus far declined comment, save for one statement he made after his arraignment on federal drug charges Thursday: "I am not a criminal."

<span class="postbold">Relationships matter</span>

Medical marijuana has long been a contentious issue in San Diego County, with local governments fighting state laws that approve and regulate the use of the drug by sick people, as well as the dispensaries that provide it.

On Sept. 9, local and federal authorities raided 14 medical marijuana dispensaries and arrested more than 30 people in San Diego, including eight associated with shops in North County.

Of those arrested in North County, only Stacy has been charged. A San Diego man also faces federal charges.

Stacy faces three federal counts: conspiracy to grow and sell marijuana, growing marijuana and possessing a semi-automatic handgun in furtherance of his pot operation.

Marijuana is illegal under federal law in all instances.

In 1996, California voters passed Proposition 215, which approved use of the drug for medicinal purposes. But there are fuzzy lines and gray areas about what is legal and what is not under state law.

Under California law, medical marijuana collectives must operate as nonprofit businesses. They may sell medical marijuana only to members of their collectives.

And those members must have a valid recommendation from a licensed physician. Physicians in California do not write prescriptions for marijuana; they only provide the patient with a recommendation that it would provide a health benefit.

But what makes a person a legitimate member of a collective can be unclear.

Last year, to help clarify the matter, the state attorney general's office released some nonbinding guidelines ---- and warned that for-profit pot shops were probably illegal, and the operators could face prosecution.

In providing the guidelines, California Attorney General Jerry Brown said "dispensaries that merely require patients to complete a form summarily designating the business owner as their primary caregiver and then offering marijuana in exchange for cash 'donations' are likely unlawful."

In the case of the North County pot shops, that is what happened, authorities said. The dispensaries essentially just asked the undercover officer to sign up and join the collective without establishing any other relationship. And that may be the legal reasoning behind the September raids.

At the three local dispensaries hit in the raids ---- Healing Dragon and Movement in Action, both in Vista, and San Diego Dispensary Services in San Marcos ---- the undercover cop provided the identification and a doctor's recommendation and agreed to join the collective.

At one pot shop, the undercover officer signed a document stating that he agreed to designate the dispensary as the primary caregiver. At another shop, the officer said he signed a document, but he didn't have time to read it through before signing.

Signing a document may not be good enough to make a person a member of a collective. The affidavits stated that the undercover detectives "had no patient/caregiver relationship" with the dispensary workers.

The officers argued in the affidavit that the law requires that a caregiver must be a person, as opposed to an organization, and that the person must be someone who "consistently assumed responsibility for the housing, health or safety of that person."

The affidavits to search the three North County pot shops also cited Internet reviews of the dispensaries. The officers wrote that "it became apparent" that the customers were looking for high-quality marijuana, not to be part of a collaborative cultivation.

<span class="postbold">Details of the undercover operation</span>

The tale that follows is a rundown of the undercover operation involving Stacy's shop, according to the affidavit to search it. Stacy's attorney, a federal public defender, said this week that she had not seen the search warrant, and declined to comment on its contents and allegations.

The affidavit states that the undercover officer walked into Movement in Action on a July weekday posing as a new customer.

The officer handed over his driver's license and a doctor's recommendation that he be allowed to use marijuana for medicinal purposes.

The man behind the counter verified both documents, according to the affidavit by an investigator. Hurdles cleared, the doors to a backroom were opened. A different man, store operator Stacy, escorted the customer inside the room to choose his medicine.

Several large jars of marijuana, each labeled with different names, sat on the counter. So did a cash register. Prices for various types and weights of marijuana were listed on an easel to the customer's left, the investigator wrote.

The customer would visit three more times in the coming weeks. He was able to choose marijuana from jars carrying names such as Dank, Mr. Nice and Sour Diesel, the latter of which he said he was told "works." Want a "head high" instead of a "body high?" Try Indica or Sativa, he reportedly was told by Stacy.

But those conversations came at later visits.

During the visitor's first shopping trip, Stacy took the time to explain that the operation was a collective, and thus was legal, the investigator wrote.

Stacy, the store owner, also brought up a 2008 criminal case making its way through local courts involving Eugene Davidovich, a North County man in trouble for running a different collective.

A prosecutor said Thursday that Davidovich is accused of running a marijuana delivery service and was busted during a different undercover sting. Davidovich said Thursday that he was helping sick people through his collective, and is fighting the charges.

During his conversations in July with the undercover officer, Stacy reportedly said that if Davidovich lost his criminal case, Stacy would close up shop and go into "hiding."

Stacy also told the undercover cop that, in the back half of the building housing his pot shop, he ran a martial arts studio. The detective asked Stacy if kids trained there. Stacy replied that they did not because his lawyer had advised him not to allow it, since marijuana was on the premises, according to the affidavit.

The detective also asked Stacy if he was needed to help out around the business now that he was a member of the collective. Yes, he was told, he could do odd jobs or help clean up, and would be given medicine in trade.

The undercover officer made three trips to Movement in Action, and bought an eighth of an ounce of marijuana each time, the investigator wrote.

He also learned that the place sometimes hosted a "farmer's market" for the growers to sell directly to the patients. The patients would need to pay a $15 entrance fee to the event.

The day after the raids, San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis said the dispensaries acted as for-profit businesses and sold to customers who were not members of their cooperatives, both of which are violations of state law.

The San Diego County district attorney's office, which would bring state charges as opposed to federal, said this week they are still evaluating whether to charge the other people arrested in the raids.

Oceanside attorney Rena Wallenius represents one of the North County men arrested but not yet charged, and she said she believes law enforcement is wasting money chasing medical marijuana providers.

"They have targeted people who are attempting to comply with the law ... by nitpicking at deficiencies in the way the medical marijuana was moved," she said.

Call staff writer Teri Figueroa at 760-740-5442.
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Budding industry helps pot patients

Postby palmspringsbum » Sun Oct 25, 2009 5:44 pm

The San Deigo Union-Tribune wrote:Budding industry helps pot patients

<span class="postbigbold">At least 40 services said to deliver locally</span>

The San Diego Union-Tribune | By Eleanor Yang Su


2:00 a.m. October 25, 2009

Ordering medical marijuana can almost be as easy as getting a pizza dropped off at your doorstep, thanks to a burgeoning number of therapeutic pot delivery services in San Diego County.

Local law enforcement officials estimate there are at least 40 delivery services, with more appearing after raids and crackdowns on storefront dispensaries.

Several have created colorful Web sites with menus offering “edibles” such as marijuana brownies and cookies. Botanicure Collective and Delivery even has a page on Yelp, a reader-review Web site.

“You call them up, place an order, and they come to your house within 20 to 60 minutes, just like for a pizza,” Deputy District Attorney Chris Lindbergh said.

Law enforcement officials say the increase in mobile marijuana operations is fueled by demand and low startup costs: a car, cell phone and pot.

Operators say they are complying with state laws. Many require doctors'recommendations from clients and provide marijuana only to people older than 21. They say they fill a legitimate need for ill or disabled people who are immobile.

“Some people I helped were severely crippled, with broken backs, amputations or rheumatoid arthritis,” said Clairemont resident Donna Lambert, adding that she stopped delivering marijuana last summer.

Lambert was swept up in a February raid and charged with seven felonies, including selling marijuana.

The Operation Endless Summer sting led to the arrests of 37 individuals, 14 of whom were running delivery services, Lindbergh said. Ten of those deliverers were convicted or pleaded guilty, Lindbergh said. The other four, including Lambert, are awaiting trial.

Law enforcement officials say they think many delivery services are selling marijuana at a profit, which is illegal in California.

“They're hiding behind a law designed to help sick and ill people, only to make a buck,” Lindbergh said.

Three current delivery service operators were reached for this story, but none of them would be identified for fear of being targeted by law enforcement officials.

They said they deliver morning and night to members of a collective. They grow their own plants, sometimes supplementing with purchased pot. Some said they operate as nonprofits, asking for donations of a set amount. Prices generally range from $300 to $400 an ounce.

Delivery services have been in existence since California voters passed Proposition 215 and legalized medical marijuana in 1996. But their numbers have blossomed in the past couple of years, said Dale Gieringer, coordinator for California NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, which lobbies for pot smokers.

The organization's Web site lists 20 delivery services in San Diego and about 200 statewide. An increase in the number of delivery services six months ago prompted the organization to hire an employee to update and oversee the listings.

Complaints about delivery services are more common than for storefront dispensaries, Gieringer said.

“They'll say they bought pot from a guy and it's no good,” Gieringer said. “They want their money back, but they can't get their calls returned.”

One factor in the lack of accountability is that no one regulates delivery services or dispensaries in San Diego – and the same is true for many other cities in the state.

Delivery services are not mentioned in Proposition 215. Legal analysts say state statutes and recent court cases show that there are two scenarios in which distributors can legally operate: They can grow marijuana as part of a nonprofit collective and share it among members, or they can provide the drug as a primary caregiver for severely ill or disabled patients.

Many distributors were using the caregiver rationale but were stripped of that option last year when the state Supreme Court ruled that a caretaker must look out for the health and safety of a patient and not just provide medical marijuana.

San Diego law enforcement officials say the state law allows collectives and cooperatives to cultivate marijuana but not sell it.

Alex Kreit, a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, said that interpretation is too narrow.

“The law does allow collectives and cooperatives to operate on a nonprofit basis,” said Kreit, who chairs a recently appointed San Diego task force on medical marijuana.

Collectives can charge money for marijuana as long as they put the funds back into the operation and do not make a profit, Kreit said.

<small>Eleanor Yang Su: (619) 542-4564; eleanor.su@uniontrib.com</small>

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Guidelines won't help 2 charged in pot raid

Postby palmspringsbum » Mon Oct 26, 2009 7:23 am

The San Diego Union-Tribune wrote:Guidelines won't help 2 charged in pot raid

<span class="postbigbold">Sellers of medical marijuana targeted</span>

By Greg Moran | The San Diego Union-Tribune

2:00 a.m. October 26, 2009


FEDERAL COURT — When the Department of Justice announced guidelines last week for federal prosecutors pursuing medical-marijuana cases, advocates for the medicinal use of the drug widely welcomed them.

With, perhaps, two exceptions — James Stacy and Joseph Nunes.

Stacy and Nunes are former providers of medical marijuana now facing federal charges for illegally selling the drug from storefront businesses they owned in Vista and San Diego.

Stacy and Nunes are the only two of about 30 people who were arrested during a raid of medical-marijuana collectives and dispensaries across San Diego County in September who are being prosecuted in federal court.

The new guidelines discourage — but don't prohibit — federal prosecutors from pursuing cases against individuals and businesses that are in compliance with state laws. But the guidelines will not get Stacy and Nunes off the hook.

Their cases will continue moving forward, said prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney's Office in San Diego. Prosecutors believe Nunes and Stacy were not complying with California's medical-marijuana law and, therefore, fall outside the protection of the guidelines.

Federal law does not recognize medical marijuana. But 14 states, including California, do. The tension between federal and state law has played out for years. The new guidelines mark a departure from previous federal policy in that they back off from using federal power to prosecute people who otherwise are following state laws.

Stacy's attorney still questions the decision to haul her client into federal court.

Stacy, 45, owns a martial arts studio on South Santa Fe Avenue in Vista. Earlier this year he opened Movement in Action, a medical-marijuana collective, in the back of the store.

Kasha Kastillo, Stacy's federal public defender, said Stacy was “absolutely attempting to comply with state law.” Kastillo said she has not been specifically told by prosecutors why her client was indicted on charges of distributing and conspiracy to distribute marijuana and possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking.

“Based on the information in the (warrants), he was not making it a secret he was opening the collective and was trying to do so legally,” she said.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Schopler declined to comment on details of the case.

Affidavits supporting arrest and search warrants outline the case against Stacy. They were sworn out by an undercover San Diego County sheriff's detective who posed as a patient and went to the cooperative in June. The detective handed over a doctor's recommendation for the drug and after a few minutes was ushered into a room where he met Stacy.

Stacy told him he could legally sell him the drug as long as he had a valid doctor's recommendation, and he became a member of the cooperative.

The detective said in the warrant that he asked if he needed to work to help out the business. He said Stacy told him he could do odd jobs. The detective bought one-eighth of an ounce of marijuana, for $60, on that day, and the same amount on two other occasions in August, the warrant says.

The warrant says Stacy was not following state law because he did not fit the definition of a caregiver who can provide medical marijuana to patients.

The detective said a caregiver has to be an individual, and not a business, who has “consistently assumed responsibility” for taking care of another. Distributing the drug to someone only with a recommendation “on an ad hoc basis without any other relationship is not permitted,” the warrant says.

A search of the business also turned up a handgun. Under the new federal guidelines, the presence of a firearm is one element that can justify federal charges.

Nunes operated the Green Kross Collective at 3415 Mission Blvd. in San Diego. Police conducted undercover buys there, too.

Court records say Nunes has a criminal record for marijuana possession and sales, as well as theft, burglary and weapons charges. Under state law medical-marijuana collectives have to be nonprofit businesses, but investigators said they found that Nunes seemed to be profiting from the business.

There was $13,500 in cash in the store, the products of two days of sales. Nunes was living in a $4,000-per-month high-rise condominium, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Sherri Walker Hobson.

A search there uncovered $25,000 in cash, a pound of marijuana and a stash of human growth hormone. Nunes' attorney did not respond to a request for comment.

In all, 30 people were arrested in the Sept. 9 raids, and two people have been charged in state court. One, Wilber Jay Dawson, pleaded guilty Oct. 8 in San Diego Superior Court to one charge of possession of marijuana for sale. A second man, Jovan Christian Jackson, pleaded not guilty and has a court hearing set for Dec. 1. All of the other cases are under review, according to Paul Levikow, a spokesman for the District Attorney's Office.

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Checking Bonnie's facts

Postby palmspringsbum » Wed Oct 28, 2009 12:03 pm

San Diego CityBeat wrote:Checking Bonnie's facts

<span class="postbigbold">Was the D.A. leveling with us at her pot-raid news conference?</span>

San Diego CityBeat | By Dave Maass | 28 Oct 09


After the Sept. 9 raids on 14 medical cannabis dispensaries, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis issued a press release gloating about how she shut down the operations of “drug dealers.” Yet, Dumanis provided very little evidence to back up her blanket claims. CityBeat presents this fact check:

Claim No.1: The dispensaries “were operating under the guise of selling marijuana and marijuana-laced products for medicinal purposes.”

According to eight search-warrant affidavits filed in state court and two filed in federal court by the officers leading the stings, in no case did a dispensary distribute marijuana to a client without the required medical doctor’s recommendation. However, 14 tablets of MDMT, aka Ecstasy, were seized from the home of two dispensary operators—Jovan Jackson and Lee Bumpers of Answerdam Rx. Human-growth hormones were also found at the home of Joseph Nunes of Green Kross Collective, the U.S. Attorney’s office told The San Diego Union-Tribune.

Claim No. 2: “Residents living near some of the storefronts have complained to law enforcement and local government about an increase in crimes associated with the dispensaries—including robberies and vandalism.”

Using the San Diego Regional Justice Information Systems—an online service that records and maps all criminal complaints—CityBeat searched for vandalism (often classi afied as “malicious mischief”) and robberies within a quarter-mile of each dispensary and found no significant change in crime. For example, Total Herbal Care’s ’hood (4600 block of Cass Street), saw a drop from 11 vandalism cases and three robberies to three cases of vandalism and two robberies between July and September. The 3500 block of Ashford Street, home of Nature’s Rx, saw three cases of vandalism and no robberies in the beginning of the year but zero cases of either crime between April and September.

Claim No. 3: “As a result of the search warrants, law enforcement seized marijuana at each location, more than $70,000 in cash and six guns.”

CityBeat reviewed eight seizure receipts filed with the central branch of the Superior Court and found that police did seize the entire stock of cannabis products. Yet, there was nowhere near that amount of cash on hand. In total, those eight only accounted for $10,485 in cash, less than 15 percent of the purported total. As the Union-Tribune reported, $38,000, the majority of the money, was confiscated from a single dispensary owner, Nunes of Green Kross Collective. No guns were confiscated as a result of the eight search warrants filed in Superior Court.

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