Oct 07 2009

Reflections

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I’ve been pretty harsh on Santa Cruz in my writing over the past couple of years, much of it deserved. But lately I find myself grateful for things such as the backpack I was given some years ago. It is still in excellent shape and is perfect for my laptop.

When I found myself homeless in Santa Cruz the first thing I did was buy a laptop, thinking I was not going to get housing through ordinary channels and my best bet was to get on the internet. The local library limited the time you cold spend on the internet to one hour a day, which really wasn’t enough time to do anything.

Evidently the charitable folks involved with homeless services didn’t take kindly to my purchase of a laptop after sleeping on church floors 3 days a week for six months. Their attitude seemed to be that if I could afford a laptop and marijuana I didn’t need their help.

What followed was three years of homelessness.

I guess I spent three years on the local forum (now “hidden” from public view) telling anyone that cared exactly how horrible it was to be homeless in this town. Most of what I remember is an incessant excess of abuse and character assassination, but there were people who did try to help, though none of them offered me a place to stay while I got my act together.

But there was the backpack, and a jacket, and a tent, and a duffel bag, and a sleeping bag, and other things. And now I do remember those things and the other attempts to help and show kindness.

Karen bought me a cell-phone when mine was lost or stolen. And she got me a storage space in Santa Cruz and moved my things from Hayward to Santa Cruz.

It’s been over a decade now since I became a medical marijuana patient in 1995. When The Compassionate Use Act of 1996 passed I thought I would be able to find a place, grow my own, and be left alone. I certainly never intended to end up homeless for three years.

If you ask me, being homeless is worse than being in jail.

It’s been a year-and-a-half now that I’ve been housed. It’s a single room in an old motel. There’s no kitchen, only a bathroom. No pets. No visitors after 10pm. No large appliances as the wiring is old and can’t handle large loads. No possibility of growing.

And no possibility of ever getting out and into anything better that I can see.

Santa Cruz is no place for poor people. It brings to mind the old saying, “If you want a good marriage don’t marry a beautiful woman”. But it does have it’s good points, there are some decent and kind people here.

Things are happening so fast in the medical marijuana movement it’s difficult to keep track. There have been two court decisions in California that are significant.

Firstly, in a case from Butte County, the California Appellate Court determined that the Compassionate Use Act of 1996 is not simply an affirmative defense to criminal sanctions:

[W]e see an opportunity for an individual to request the same constitutional guarantee of due process available to all individuals, no matter what their status, under the state Constitution. The fact that this case involves medical marijuana and a qualified medical marijuana patient does not change these fundamental constitutional rights or an individual’s right to assert them.”

This case has been hailed as establishing the right of patients to bring civil suit against the state for violating Proposition 215.

The bad news is that a court has ruled it is not a violation of Proposition 215 for a city to ban dispensaries, such as Claremont has. Based on this it appears cities across the state are going to attempt to ban dispensaries. Examples that come to mind are Los Angeles and Lake Forest. The Los Angeles Times announced that the Los Angeles city attorney and county district attorney have decided that purchasing marijuana at dispensaries is illegal and intend to stamp out dispensaries that buy, rather than grow, their supply.

In Lake Forest the city is attempting to shut down 14 dispensaries. This story is being repeated up and down the state.

In June, as the result of an undercover sting, Dr. Robert Sterner had his license to practice medicine suspended and was put on three years probation. He will appeal the decision.

In Santa Cruz the trial of Michael Clifford of Pacific Coast Co-Operative is underway, currently being continued. And the trial of Roger Mentch is set to begin 16 Nov 2009 in Santa Clara Superior Court Department 24. This is the third time Roger has gone to trial over medical marijuana. In the last trial the Santa Cruz District Attorney argued that in order to qualify as a medical marijuana caregiver one must do more than provide marijuana. If this standard is upheld it will put most dispensaries and collective out of business and send most patients to the black market.

In San Diego, Donna Lambert‘s motions for dismissal have been denied and she is set for trial for 7 felonies on 7 Dec 09.

Jack Herer, who suffered a heart attack 3 minutes after speaking at Hempstalk in Seattle, is now off life support and it appears he will live.


Marijuana Dispensary News – The Claremont Insider | 18 Apr 2008
CA Supreme Court: Caregiver must do more than provide marijuana – The Eureka Times-Standard | 30 Nov 2008
Doctor penalized for cannabis-prescribing methods – San Diego Union-Tribune | 15 Jun 2009
Lake Forest files complaints against 35 linked to pot dispensaries – The Orange County Register | 1 Sep 2009
The Jack Herer Initiative – palmspringsbum | 29 Sep 2009
Marijuana Dispensaries Banned In Claremont – The Student Life | 9 Oct 2009

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