By Steve Elliott
California Governor Jerry Brown said on Sunday that he isn't convinced this marijuana legalization business is such a good idea, because folks need to "stay alert."
"The problem with anything, a certain amount is OK," "Moonbeam" Brown said on NBC's "Meet The Press," reports The Huffington Post. "But there is a tendency to go to extremes.
"And all of a sudden, if there's advertising and legitimacy, how many people can get stoned and still have a great state or a great nation?" Brown asked. (Our answer is a hell of a lot of them, Governor.)
"The world's pretty dangerous, pretty competitive," Brown said. "I think we need to stay alert, if not 24 hours a day, more than some of the potheads might be able to put together."
A recent poll showed that a majority of Californians support marijuana legalization.
The Governor noted that California already allows medical marijuana, but said he isn't sold on the idea of recreational legalization until he sees how that works out for Colorado and Washington. "I'd really like those two states to show us how it's going to work," he said.
By Steve Elliott
The San Diego City Council on Tuesday passed regulations for medical marijuana dispensaries limiting the stores to no more than four per council district.
On an 8-1 vote, with Council Mark Kersey casting the lone dissenting vote, the council set zoning and operating restrictions for the medical marijuana collectives, reports ABC 10 News.
The council has visited the issue numerous times since the Compassionate Use Act was approved by California voters in 1996. Zoning and operating rules passed in 2011 were repealed after medical marijuana advocates got enough signatures to force their reconsideration.
While advocates considered the 2011 rules too strict, calling them a "de facto ban," removing them had the effect of making all dispensaries in San Diego illegal. The restrictions in the new plan are even tighter than the 2011 ones were.
"We can't afford to turn our backs on this, otherwise there will be a continued proliferation of these illegal operations and, chances are, there will be further and greater abuses of the system," alarmist Councilwoman Marti Emerald claimed. "These drugs are going to wind up in the hands of kids and people who really don't need this for medicine," she said, not mentioning where she got her medical credentials.
Emerald asked for a staff report in a year, to make sure the dispensaries are abiding by the rules while still providing safe access for patients.
By Steve Elliott
Location, location, location. Girl Scout Danielle Lei picked her location well when she set up a stand to sell Girl Scout Cookies outside the Green Cross medical marijuana dispensary in San Francisco. Hungry patients bought all the cookies Lei had in just 45 minutes.
Lei sold 117 boxes of cookies in just two hours, reports Mashable. The profits from the cookie sales will go to charitable organizations, including several benefiting Alzheimer's research.
Danielle's mom, Carol Lei, said she believes the entrepreneurial experience is a good way to start a conversation with her daughter about different kinds of drug use. "You put it in terms that they may understand," Carol said. "I'm not condoning it; I'm not saying go out in the streets and take marijuana."
Carol said she thought this would be a good way for her daughter to learn that some people use marijuana as medicine, while others just get high, reports NPR. "They learn that they're not drugged out," Lei said. "Many have serious needs, and are just a little different."
The Green Cross had no problem with Lei's cookie stand; staff members bought boxes and kept their patients updated through the dispensary's Facebook page.
Two California dispensaries are first to complete certification program with pending certifications in six states
Patient advocacy group Americans for Safe Access (ASA) on Thursday certified the first two dispensaries in the country for its new nationwide program that verifies the quality and reliability of products sold at licensed medical marijuana businesses. The certifications issued to Berkeley Patients Group and SPARC of San Francisco are based on the Patient Focused Certification (PFC) program, the only nonprofit, third-party certification for the medical marijuana industry based on new quality standards issued by the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) and the American Herbal Pharmacopeia (AHP).
"The Patient Focused Certification program is long overdue," said Sebastopol Mayor Robert Jacob, who is also director of Peace in Medicine and SPARC, the San Francisco-based medical marijuana dispensary certified today. "Patients deserve to know that the products they receive are of the highest standard."
"As Mayor of Sebastopol, I am relieved to know that there are product safety standards established by a trusted national organization to help guide local governments," Jacob said.
By Steve Elliott
What's up with California? Despite its reputation as a weed-friendly state and polls showing a majority of residents are ready to legalize marijuana, it looks like it's going to be at least two more years before the Golden State's going to get 'er done.
The state's top legalization measure, the Control, Regulate and Tax Marijuana Act, was deflated on Tuesday by its backers, including the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), who said they will stop gathering signatures to put it on November's ballot, reports Josh Richman at the San Jose Mercury News.
"We decided it was more important to do it right than to do it fast," said Stephen Gutwillig, the DPA's deputy executive director, on Tuesday. "We ultimately came quite close but just decided we didn't have enough of the pieces in place right now."
Fifty-five percent of Californians support cannabis legalization, according to a Field Poll in December. That's the first time in 44 years that the poll found a clear majority favoring such a change.
But that kind of support didn't bring unity to California's cannabis activists. Besides the DPA measure, two other legalization initiatives started gathering signatures in recent months, but neither seems to have the money, organization or backing to successfully qualify for the ballot.
By Steve Elliott
A California association of drug cops on Monday asked President Obama to retract his recent comments concerning marijuana being no more harmful than alcohol.
"The California Narcotic Officers' Association takes strong issue with your comparison of marijuana and alcohol," CNOA president Steve Riddle wrote to Obama in an open letter. The letter suggests that Obama "reevaluate" his comparison of alcohol and marijuana.
"Today's marijuana is far more potent that the marijuana that you have so honestly acknowledged using during your teens and early adulthood," Riddle writes. "Moreover, the increasingly popular Butane Hash Oil exceeds 80 percent THC, making it far more potent than the marijuana of one to three percent THC that characterized your era. Additionally, I would ask that you consider your recent comments in light of the documented material on marijuana harms that are posted on the White House Website."
"The comments of the President of the United States -- on any issue -- are taken very seriously," Riddle's letter reads. "When the President speaks, the media, teachers, children, and for that matter, the world listen. This is particularly true when the President speaks on an issue that is at the forefront of our culture such as drug use.
"It's not enough for the President to simply say that drug use is 'not something I encourage,'" Riddle wrote. "When it comes to the use of drugs, it is imperative that the President of the United States 'discourage' their use."
By Steve Elliott
Supporters of marijuana legalization in California now have not just one, but two initiatives cleared to collect signatures to try to qualify for the November ballot.
The Marijuana Control, Legalization and Revenue Act (MCLR) has been given the green light to start collecting signatures, joining the California Cannabis Hemp Initiative (CCHI), which received clearance back last September from the California Secretary of State to circulate petitions. CCHI's deadline for more than 500,000 signatures is just three weeks away, on February 24, while MCLR has until June 30.
If passed, the MCLR, like the CCHI, would legalize recreational cannabis use for adults 21 and older. It would also strengthen existing medical marijuana laws and legalize hemp production, according to supporters, reports Ashley Bailey at KPCC.
"It stops putting 20,000 people a year in California for low level offenses and it creates a diversion program," said Silicon Valley businessman John Lee, who leads the nonprofit Americans for Policy Reform, one of the groups behind the measure. The law would also open up possibilities for medical research, as well as generating revenue from a variety of cannabis sources, according to Lee.
The 10 Highest Cities In America By Movoto Real Estate
Colorado last week became the first state in the Union with legal sales of recreational cannabis, instantly conferring upon Denver the status of marijuana mecca.
But is Denver the highest city in the United States? That's what the Movoto Real Estate Blog set out to determine through the power of data, just as they've done with topics including which cities are the nerdiest, which are the worst dressed, or which is the best city in the whole country.
After extensive research, Movoto concluded that, yes, Denver really is the Mile-High City, but they also came up with a Top 10 list of the highest cities in America:
2. Colorado Springs
4. San Bernardino, CA
5. Aurora, CO
6. Santa Ana, CA
7. Irvine, CA
8. San Francisco, CA
9. Sacramento, CA
10. Los Angeles, CA
Now, I'm sure San Francisco's heads are quite exercised over the indignity of being outranked by Irvine, Santa Ana, and San Ber'dino, but are there any other surprises here?
Washington state is coming up fast with its own legalization law about to be implemented, but legal pot sales won't start until this summer.
To determine a city's ranking, Movoto measure seven different criteria:
• Marijuana dispensaries per capita
• Number of residents with medical marijuana cards
Both Cultivation and Dispensaries Now Banned
By Steve Elliott
In a sobering reminder of just how backward county governments can still be, even in California, the Fresno County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday ignored the objections of patients and banned all medical marijuana cultivation in the county's unincorporated areas with a 5-0 vote. The ban takes effect next month.
The county is also banning medical marijuana dispensaries and collectives, leaving patients with no legal access to medicine, reports California NORML. "The Fresno ordinance is in blatant conflict with the intent of the Compassionate Use Act to ensure access to medical marijuana for all patients in medical need," the group said in a statement.
Those who defy the ban will be fined $1,000 per plant, reports Marc Benjamin at the Fresno Bee. The ordinance also adds a fine of $100 per plant, per day for each day the plants remain after they are initially discovered.
Violations of the "public nuisance" ordinance would trigger misdemeanor fines.
Appeals of the ordinance and its citations will be heard by the Board of Supervisors; the ban takes effect in 30 days.
By Steve Elliott
A California ballot initiative to legalize, regulate and tax marijuana got a positive review from state Attorney General Kamala Harris, who last week released a summary saying legalization could save the state "hundreds of millions of dollars."
Harris's summary of the Marijuana Control, Legalization and Revenue Act (MCLR) explained that it would legalize under California law the use, cultivation, possession, transportation, storage and sale of cannabis, reports Robin Wilkey at The Huffington Post.
"Reduced costs in the low hundreds of millions of dollars annually to state and local governments related to enforcing certain marijuana-related offenses, handling the related criminal cases in the court system, and incarcerating and supervising certain marijuana offenders," the fiscal analysis reads. "Potential net additional tax revenues in the low hundreds of millions of dollars annually related to the production and sale of marijuana, a portion of which is required to be spent on education, health care, public safety, drug abuse education and treatment, and the regulation of commercial marijuana activities."
By Steve Elliott
California voters favor marijuana legalization, according to a new poll released December 10.
Field Poll results show that 55 percent of Californians now favor legalization, a first since the poll began asking about marijuana back in 1969. In that first poll in 44 years ago, 75 percent of state residents wanted cannabis laws strictly enforced, or even toughened, reports Richard K. De Atley at the Riverside Press-Enterprise.
Just 31 percent of voters now support strict enforcement of current laws or passing tougher ones, according to the new poll. Another 12 percent wants to keep pot illegal, but lessen the penalties, while 2 percent claimed they "had no opinion."
When respondents were read a summary of a proposed initiative to legalize cannabis in California for recreational use, 56 percent said they would support it, and 39 percent said they would be opposed. Five percent said they were undecided.
"You have just had a whole new reevaluation" of marijuana, according to Field Poll Director Mark DiCamillo. "What is different is that in 1969, there was a much more prevalent view that marijuana would lead to harder drugs and addiction."
Respondents have since then stopped considering marijuana with harder drugs. "That is probably the biggest single shift in attitudes toward marijuana," DiCamillo said.
By Steve Elliott
Parents who use marijuana -- even those who use it medicinally -- face a lot of judgments, and can sometimes even lose custody of their children. Parents 4 Pot, a new group based in Northern California is fighting the stigma surrounding the subject.
The new group has a Facebook page and plans to launch a website, reports Robin Wilkey at The Huffington Post. Next on the agenda is forming a board of directors and then advocating specific legislation.
"What we aspire to do is change the way people understand and talk about cannabis in our community," said organizer Mickey Martin, the author of Medical Marijuana 101 and founder of a company which produces cannabis-infused medibles. Martin is the father of two boys.
Martin in 2007 faced federal charges related to his medibles company, Tainted Inc., eventually being sentenced to probation for "marijuana manufacturing" and distribution charges that could have gotten him a decade in prison.
"There are many parents who lose their freedom, or whose children lose their freedom, every day to these policies and laws, and as a society we sit by and watch," Martin said. "It is not OK anymore."
By Steve Elliott
A Christian pastor who's getting paid more than $100,000 a year by the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department has been sent home -- with pay -- after it was revealed he owns a strip mall where a medical marijuana dispensary is located.
Bishop Edward R. Turner, who has worked as a "paid field deputy" for Sheriff Lee Baca and headed the sheriff's Multi-Faith Clergy Council for 14 years, is being investigated for his connections to a medicinal cannabis access point which is housed in a mall he owns, reports Nancy Dillon at the New York Daily News.
"He was relieved of duty today and assigned to his home with pay," said sheriff's department spokesman Steve Whitmore on Wednesday. Whitmore confirmed an internal affairs investigation has started. Rev. Turner was relieved of duty by Sheriff Baca on Thursday after the department learned from KABC-TV Channel 7 about the revocation of Turner's foundation's nonprofit status, and that a medical marijuana dispensary is being operated on his property, according to Whitmore.
Whitmore said Rev. Turner owns two strip malls in L.A., and one of them has a medical marijuana dispensary as a tenant. "The City of Los Angeles has deemed dispensaries to be illegal," Whitmore sniffed.
The third trial against medical marijuana dispensary operator and Navy veteran Jovan Jackson is coming to an end Friday in San Diego Superior Court, before Judge Louis R. Hanoian. Closing arguments were underway Friday morning and the jury was expected to begin deliberations on the verdict after lunch.
San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, a staunch -- nay, fanatical -- opponent of medical marijuana, has waged a years-long effort to rid the county of dispensaries, and Jackson has borne the biggest brunt.
After a 2008 law enforcement raid, Jackson was tried in 2009 for possession and sales of marijuana, but was acquitted by a jury. Dissatisfied with that result, District Attorney Dumanis tried Jackson again on the same charges stemming from another raid in 2009.
At his second trial in 2010, Jackson was denied a defense and ultimately convicted. However, with the help of patient advocates Americans for Safe Access (ASA), Jackson appealed and overturned his conviction with a 2011 landmark decision that gives dispensary operators the right to a defense in state court. Instead of admitting defeat, Dumanis is choosing to retry Jackson for a third time.
Lawsuit Highlights Cruel Practices and Ineffectiveness of Undercover Narcotics Operations in Schools
The parents of a 17-year-old special needs student arrested in an undercover police operation on Thursday announced they are suing the school district that authorized the operation. The student, who suffers from a range of disabilities, was falsely befriended by a police officer who repeatedly asked the boy to provide him drugs.
After more than three weeks, 60 text messages and repeated hounding by the officer, the student was able to buy half a joint from a homeless man he then gave to his new -– and only -– “friend,” who had given him $20 weeks before. He did it once again before refusing to accommodate the officer, at which point the officer broke off all ties with the child.
Shortly thereafter, the student was arrested in school in front of his classmates as part of a sting that nabbed 22 students in all, many of them children with special needs.
"Our son is permanently scarred from the abuse he suffered," said Catherine and Doug Snodgrass, the boy’s parents, who are suing the Temecula Valley Unified School District, Director of Child Welfare and Attendance Michael Hubbard and Director of Special Education Kimberly Velez for negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress and other charges. "Right now, our focus is on him, and our entire family."
They hope that this suit will send a message to schools around the country that these raids will not be tolerated.