By Steve Elliott
Legendary actor James Garner, who portrayed two of television's most memorable characters in "Maverick" and "The Rockford Files," died on Sunday at the age of 86. Garner was a longtime supporter of marijuana legalization, and in his memoir said he'd used cannabis for 50 years, even adding "I don't where I'd be without it."
"I started smoking marijuana in my late teens," Garner wrote in his memoir,
"Grass is smooth," Garner wrote, reports Jake Ellison at the Seattle PI. "It had the opposite effect from alcohol; it made me more tolerant and forgiving."
"I smoked marijuana for 50 years," Garner wrote. "I don't know where I'd be without it. It opened my mind to a lot of things, and now its active ingredient, THC, relaxes me and eases my arthritis pain.
"I've concluded that marijuana should be legal and alcohol should be illegal," Garner wrote. "But, good luck with that."
By Steve Elliott
Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer said he will seek on Tuesday to shut down medical marijuana farmers market that launched in the Boyle Heights section of Los Angeles two weeks ago. Feuer said he will seek a restraining order blocking the operation of what he called the "so-called farmers market."
The city attorney claimed the market violates Proposition D, the voter-approved ordinance that restricts the number of medical marijuana dispensaries allowed to operate in Los Angeles, reports KPCC. Feuer also claimed the event constitutes "a nuisance" to the residents of the neighborhood.
"It also fails, we allege, to comply with basic city land use laws," Feuer claimed. "And they couldn't get a permit if they tried. So for many reasons -- from the violation of Prop D to the impact on the community to the failure to comply with city land use law -- we allege that this isn't a use that should be allowed to continue and we're going to seek a court order to put a halt to it."
The three-day launch of the market, which only allowed medical marijuana patients with doctor's authorizations, took place over the July 4th weekend. Thousands of patients came to a warehouse, drawn by the promise of lower prices and farmer-to-consumer cannabis sales. About 25 vendors offered marijuana products and supplies; the line of attendees stretched for blocks.
By Steve Elliott
Here's how it's done. The city of Berkeley, California will require medical marijuana dispensaries to give two percent of the amount of cannabis they sell each month to low income patients at no charge.
The Berkeley City Council voted unanimously at Tuesday's meeting to change the city's medical marijuana rules, which would also allow for a fourth dispensary in the city, reports Ryan Takeo of CBS San Francisco.
"Basically, the city council wants to make sure that low-income, homeless, indigent folks have access to their medical marijuana, their medicine," said Berkeley City Councilmember Darryl Moore.
At least two percent of all medical marijuana dispensed at each shop would be required to be given away to very low-income members under the proposal. What's more, the free cannabis would have to be the same quality that's dispensed to regular paying customers.
"We think this is the responsible thing to do for those less fortunate in our community," Moore said.
The measure also adjusts the definitions for medical marijuana collectives and dispensaries, patients and caregivers, as well as setting new rules for operating hours and testing both cannabis and edibles.
One Berkeley dispensary, the Berkeley Patients Group, has already been giving out free cannabis to the poor for 15 years.
A California company which specializes in custom vending machines and automated retailing systems announced on Wednesday that its new Lane Recognition Technology will have a "profound impact" on America's growing legal marijuana industry.
According to a press release from AVT, Inc., the technology, which identifies every item in its temperature controlled storage area, provides verification on each package that it dispenses. The system eliminates human error, and provides 100 percent dispensing accuracy, according to the company.
This can be especially important in retail environments where precise "seed-to-sale" tracking is often required.
The use of marijuana to treat a variety of conditions is now allowed in almost half the country, reports CNN. New York was one of the latest states to pass a form of medical marijuana legalization.
"The momentum has picked up recently," CNN reported, as more states line up to pass sensible laws regarding the medical use of cannabis.
By Steve Elliott
A medical marijuana farmers market is opening this Independence Day weekend in Los Angeles. It's being billed the "world's first marijuana farmers market" by clueless reporters, but of course anybody with an ability to fact check knows the world's first happened three years ago, in Washington state, which now hosts at least half a dozen of them.
The California Heritage Market says it wants to foster a better relationship between medical marijuana patients and growers. "We're hoping that the California Heritage Market can bridge this gap and provide a new and affordable experience for those who need safe access they can trust," said executive administrator Paizley Bradbury.
"It's going to be so much easier for patients to get their medicine at a more affordable rate, and something that they can trust," Bradbury told TIME Magazine's Giri Nathan. "They can say 'How did you grow this? Is it organic? What kind of nutrients did you use? What kind of strain is this?' There's just so much more behind it."
The market is scheduled to take place July 4-6 between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. in East Los Angeles at the new West Coast Collective dispensary at 1500 Esperanza Street. It plans to open every weekend, provided it doesn't encounter any legal obstacles.
"With this industry, you just never really know how things are going to turn out until after you do it," Bradbury said.
By Steve Elliott
Police in some medical marijuana states -- who once ripped up marijuana plants by the roots without a second thought, or just stashed them away to die -- are now reevaluating the practice.
Police departments from Colorado and Washington to Hawaii and California are being sued by people who want their cannabis back after prosecutors chose not to charge them, or they were acquitted, reports Sadie Gurman at The Associated Press.
Some former suspects are asking for hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash compensation to replace dead plants that the cops either uprooted, or left to die in evidence rooms.
Police departments in some municipalities have, therefore, either stopped rounding up the plants, or have started collecting just a few samples and photographing the rest to use as evidence in court.
"None of us are really sure what we're supposed to do, and so you err on the side of caution," claimed Mitch Barker, executive director of the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs.
The evolving paradigm under which cannabis is now viewed as medicine rather than as a dangerous scourge which must be wiped out is responsible for the changing ways police departments deal with the question.
"Law enforcement is going to have to think more carefully about what their procedures are and how those procedures might need to change in light of changes in the law," said University of Denver law professor Sam Kamin.
By Steve Elliott
It's been less than a month since medical marijuana advocates collected enough signatures to qualify for the Riverside ballot in 2015, but now the city has filed a lawsuit to stop the issue from going before voters.
Riverside has a ban in place on marijuana dispensaries, through its zoning code; last year, the California Supreme Court sided with the city in a legal challenge to the ban, reports Alicia Robinson at The Press Enterprise.
The ballot measure in question would legalize, tax and regulate medical marijuana dispensaries in Riverside, allowing a small number of them in restricted locations.
Interim Riverside County Registrar of Voters Rebecca Spencer said she couldn't comment on the lawsuit, because she hadn't yet been served with it.
The city's move is "the nuclear option to interfere with the democratic process," according to attorney Jason Thompson, who represents initiative backers Riverside Safe Access. Thompson added that cities will typically let an election play out before acting, since the ballot measure has no guarantee of passage.
Riverside spokesman Phil Pitchford said the lawsuit against the registrar was filed at the direction of the City Council. Pitchford would not comment on why officials sued now instead of waiting to see if voters approved the measure.
Two Northern California medical marijuana dispensaries have announced they will be giving away free high-CBD tincture medication for children suffering from seizure disorders.
In the wake of the recent death of 6-year old Charlee Nelson in Utah after she was denied cannabis extract known to help control seizures caused by a neurological disorder, Dave Spradlin, co-director of Magnolia Wellness in Oakland and River City Phoenix in Sacramento, has announced that he will provide for free the expensive extract to any patients with a similar ailment.
The medicine is a scientifically produced liquid made from marijuana plants and used to treat people with severe seizure disorders. The tincture is rich in a chemical called cannabidiol, or CBD, but low in THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.
CBD is a non-psychoactive component of marijuana that is known to possess a wide range of therapeutic benefits. It has proven to be especially effective in the treatment of seizures brought on by neurological conditions such as Batten disease, which was blamed in the death of Charlee Nelson.
“People are really suffering and this product has been known to cut seizures from hundreds a day to just a few a week or none at all,” said Spradlin.
Many in the medical community feel this is an effective alternative to conventional pharmaceuticals and can dramatically improve a patient’s quality of life.
Marijuana policy organization makes maximum financial contribution to challenger of former congressman that called medical marijuana a ‘sham’
The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) PAC on Wednesday endorsed Republican congressional candidate Igor Birman and contributed $5,000 to his campaign, the maximum allowed under federal law. Birman is challenging former Congressman Doug Ose in a hotly contested Republican primary race in California’s 7th Congressional District, which consists of eastern Sacramento County.
MPP PAC attributed the endorsement to Birman’s strong support for ending marijuana prohibition and his ability to work with members of all parties to enact much-needed changes to federal law. The endorsement was also motivated by the radical anti-marijuana views of former Congressman Ose, who once said during a radio interview that medical marijuana is “a sham that was foisted on the people of [California].”
Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones endorsed Ose last month, citing the former Congressman’s opposition to regulating and taxing marijuana — an idea supported by 55 percent of California voters, according to a Field Poll released in December.
“Igor is among the growing number of Republicans with common sense views on marijuana," said Dan Riffle, director of federal policies for the Marijuana Policy Project. "Like William F. Buckley, Milton Friedman, and other thinking conservatives, he recognizes the wasteful and counterproductive nature of marijuana prohibition.
By Steve Elliott
Is it an inventive new way to clear marijuana cases off the docket, or is it simply a way of separating medical marijuana patients from their money? The Mendocino County Sheriff's Department is flush with cash due to what some are calling "the Mendocino Model," and others are calling the Mendocino shakedown.
When District Attorney David Eyster took over in Mendocino just over three years ago, he said felony cannabis prosecutions were overwhelming his staff and his budget, reports Lee Romney at the Los Angeles Times. The cases took an average of 15 months to resolve.
Now the cases clear in about three months and the Sheriff's Department has plenty of cash. You see, Eyster found a section of the California health and safety code -- actually intended to reimburse police for the cost of cleaning up meth labs -- and reworked it.
In exchange for paying "restitution" of $50 per plant and $500 per pound of processed marijuana, suspects can plead to a misdemeanor and get probation, under Eyster's method. The restitution is supposed to be for actual enforcement costs, according to the law, but defendants are required to waive itemized accounting, stating the amount owed is "reasonable."
Cash, trucks, and equipment also occasionally have to be given up under Eyster's "global restitutions" plan.
The program is only available to those without criminal records, or who haven't trespassed, grown on public lands or degraded the environment.
By Steve Elliott
The Epilepsy Foundation, after voicing its support for medical marijuana research in February, announced last week that the 4th Biennial Epilepsy Pipeline Conference will highlight the most pressing issues faced by the epilepsy community, including the evaluation of medical marijuana.
This year's conference will also feature the annual "Shark Tank" competition, where new ideas from researchers and entrepreneurs are invited to compete for funding that will advance their product concepts with the promise of improving the lives of people with epilepsy, according to the Foundation.
The Epilepsy Pipeline Conference will be held June 5-7 at the Hyatt Regency San Francisco. Pharmaceutical, biotechnology and device industry executives, investors, clinical scientists, technology transfer executives and the epilepsy community are invited to hear directly from leader sin the field. You can register to attend the 2014 Epilepsy Pipeline Conference at http://bit.ly/PipelineConference. Registrants are encouraged to take advantage of early bird registration rates, available through May 12.
Drug DUI Bill Set for Hearings before Assembly Public Safety Committee Tuesday, April 29
The growing popularity of marijuana has raised public worries about the risk of an increase in driving accidents due to marijuana DUIs. Fortunately, the most recent federal highway safety statistics show no evidence of a MJ/drug driving epidemic.
According to data from NHTSA's Fatal Accident Recording System (FARS), the number of fatal highway accidents in California declined from 3,148 to 2,632 between 1999 and 2012; in the same period, the number of accident victims testing positive for marijuana increased from 105 to 402.
In short, highway safety actually improved while marijuana use increased in the past decade (this is true not only in California, but also nationwide). CA DUI arrests have likewise declined in the same period.
A closer examination of the data shows that marijuana use jumped suddenly around 2003-5, but has held steady ever since. Soon thereafter, accidents dropped substantially in 2006-2010 and are now 20 percent below their levels in the early 2000s.
Parallel trends have occurred nationwide. In the latest poll, a 54 percent-39 percent majority of Colorado voters say driving hasn't become more dangerous because of legal marijuana. "In short, there is no evidence of a pot DUI crisis - increased marijuana use is evidently compatible with improved driving safety," said Dale Gieringer, Ph.D., director of California NORML.
By Steve Elliott
The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to overturn Arizona court rulings which order the Yuma County sheriff to return cannabis seized from a woman with a California medical marijuana authorization recognized by Arizona. The justices' decision was issued without comment on Monday in the case of Valerie Okun.
Okun had marijuana in her car when a Border Patrol agent stopped her and her husband in Yuma County in 2011, reports The Associated Press. She was charged with marijuana possession, but the charges were dropped when she provided paperwork proving she was allowed to possess cannabis under California's medical marijuana law.
Arizona's medical marijuana law his reciprocity; that is, it allows people with authorizations from other states to also possess cannabis in Arizona.
But Yuma County Sheriff Leon Wilmot refused to give Okun's medical marijuana back, even after Arizona courts ordered that the medicine be returned.
"It has to do with the courts telling me to commit a crime," the pot-hating Sheriff Wilmot said, reports the Arizona Daily Star. "As far as I'm concerned that's not how we do business."
Event will feature special screening of Film Breaking the Taboo
Film Narrated by Morgan Freeman, Features Interviews with Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter Former Presidents of Brazil, Colombia, Mexico and Sweden, Victims of Drug War, Leading Experts and Advocates
Sundog Pictures will be holding a special screening of its groundbreaking documentary Breaking the Taboo, about the failed War On Drugs, in San Francisco. The screening will be held at 5:30 pm on Tuesday, March 25 at the New People Cinema, 1746 Post Street, San Francisco.
The special screening will be followed by a panel discussion from 6:15 until 7 pm about opportunities to help people convicted of drug offenses get back on the right path and reduce the burden that drug convictions place on American prison systems. The discussion will feature Virgin Founder Sir Richard Branson, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon, Laura Thomas of the Drug Policy Alliance and Dorsey Nunn, executive director of Legal Services for Prisoners with Children.
Activists will be gathering on Wednesday, March 19 at Zocalo Coffeehouse in San Leandro to celebrate a night of compassionate cannabis. You're invited to come visit with old friends, meet new ones, and get to know your industry comrades better.
Along with tasty treats and beverages compliments of Zocalo Coffeehouse, this event will also serve as an introduction to Project Inform and its involvement in the AIDS Walk San Francisco, the premiere Bay Area-wide event to support HIV and AIDS service providers.
With the loss of several great cannabis activists, such as Peter McWilliams, Dr. Mike Alcalay, and Brownie Mary Rathbun, many of us forget our industry is historically tied in many ways to the AIDS epidemic. Cannabis reform, safe access, and the term medical cannabis stem in large part from the work of those affected by HIV and AIDS.
That includes the leadership of great people such as Dennis Peron and the others mentioned who are no longer with us. These respected cannabis activists created history for our overlapping communities by advocating on behalf of medical cannabis and safe access as a compassionate response to AIDS relief.