Jul 01 2010

June medical marijuana news roundup


Montel lights up Maine medical marijuana conference

While Montel Williams cried in pain in Maine because he couldn’t take a few puffs before addressing the medical marijuana conference there, endorsements piled up for California’s Proposition 19 which prohibits marijuana “consumption” in public and “smoking” within sight of anyone under 21 – a prohibition the courts will most likely determine includes medical marijuana patients.

In the clip at right Williams says, “If I could walk outside of here and take one hit I would not face you like I am right now. And, unfortunately, you’re gonna hear it this way because my feet are on fire right now.”

Nowhere in any of the coverage of this incident did any so-called reporter ask why Williams could not walk outside and take one hit while he was waiting to go on.  Nor did they address the need of medical marijuana patients to smoke in public.  Nor did they state whether Maine’s medical marijuana law prohibits smoking in public and/or in sight of anyone under 21.

Regulate Control and Tax Cannabis 2010

Most of the endorsements of California’s Proposition 19 avoided any discussion of the specifics.  Instead they extolled the virtues of some nebulous concept of legalization and then declared we should all vote for Proposition 19 because it is a step in the right direction or because it sends a message.

Among these are Jeffrey Miron – Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of Economics, Harvard University, former Orange County Judge Jim Gray and addiction specialist Leonard Krivitsky.

The exception to this was from Marc Emery, who first divided opponents into three groups and then proceeded to attack them rather than the issues, hurling character assassination, innuendo, and personal attacks.

Emery then listed a number of the arguments against the initiative and rebutted them.  However, he never cited the initiative itself to support any of his arguments.  Instead, the entire proposition is appended to the end of the article.

For instance, Emery assures us the initiative will not impact marijuana patients or current medical marijuana law, but fails to cite any language from the initiative to support this.

On 29 Jun 2010 the NAACP endorsed the initiative.

Opposition to California’s Proposition 19 by respected marijuana activists have been ignored by the mainstream media and dismissed as petty jealousy by niche media.

Donna Lambert, NORML’s Freedom Fighter of The Year, had this to say on Facebook:

I will probably vote yes on Control tax and reg although it disgusts me, but I have not made a final decision yet.

David Malmo-Levine, long a member of Emery’s inner circle, accused Emery of abandoning his principles.

If anyone can see this as anything but the cartelization of the California med pot market I would like to know what they’re smoking.

Marijuana Policy Project loses patron

On 15 Jun 2010 High Times announced that Peter Lewis and his checkbook had resigned from the Marijuana Policy Project which designed most of the medical marijuana laws in the United States.

Allison Green, Chief of Staff, resigned and 10 of 29 staffers were laid off.  The resignations and lay-offs were precipitated by the return of Executive Director Rob Kampia.

High Times reported in January that at least 7 full-time staffers had quit when Kampia refused to step down after a display of predatory sexual behavior upon an intern which resulted in a widely publicized scandal during MPP’s star-studded 15-year anniversary gala.

Child custody

On May 28th it was announced that Noah Kirkman would be returned to his mother, marijuana activist Lisa Kirkman.  The Kirkmans are Canadian citizens.

Noah was seized by authorities while visiting his father, also a medical marijuana patient, in Oregon.  Noah spent 2 years in foster homes separated from his family.

A week previous to the announcement that Noah was to be returned to his mother in Canada, Opposing Views reported that police had to drive Noah back to his step-father more than once and that on one of these occasions Noah had told the police he was running away from his step-father because he was afraid of him, that his step-father had hurt him.

A flurry of articles regarding medical marijuana and child custody followed, such as “Medical pot can cost parents in custody disputes” by The Fresno Bee.  Americans for Safe Access reports that since mid-2006 they have received complaints about 61 cases in California where the medicinal use of marijuana was used to take a parent’s children away from them.

California’s Proposition 19 will ban “consumption” in public or a public place and “smoking cannabis in any space while minors are present”.

Filing Suit

There were a number of suits announced claiming local dispensary regulations were discriminatory.

On June 1st suit was filed against Los Angeles by Matthew Kumin with Kumin Sommers of San Francisco.  The suit claims the restrictions and regulations regarding dispensaries violate the California Constitution on associational, equal protection, due process and privacy grounds.

Though the city states in its findings that it desires to protect the impact of these operations on the city’s neighborhoods, the net effect of the restrictions will be to create mega-collective dispensaries that will have a greater impact on neighborhoods.

About the same time David Nick & Edie Lerman filed for a writ of mandate to strike Tehama County’s ordinance, which has restrictions similar to those enacted by The City of Los Angeles.

“The restrictions go beyond what state law is,” Nick said.  “And it is clearly discriminatory in that it favors wealthier people who are large landowners.”

In addition to a laundry list of zoning restrictions, the Tehama County regulations limit the number of plants that can be grown based on acreage.  Nick said that what sets Tehama’s regulations apart from most others is “they try to control how much you can grow for yourself.”

On the 16th, the Raw Story reported that Harmony House in North Hollywood has been granted a temporary stay of closure while the owner appeals the order to shut down.

Proposition 19 limits cultivation for personal consumption to 25 square feet per residence, not per person.  If it passes it is likely the courts will determine it supersedes Proposition 215 and there will be no grounds for such suits.

Clearly, medical marijuana purchases are not exempted from any taxes and medical marijuana dispensaries are not exempted from any of the fees or regulations, which will be different in every city and county that does not prohibit commercial cultivation and distribution, which will be most of them.

Americans for Safe Access reports that in California 31 cities regulate dispensaries, 101 ban them, and 132 have moratoriums (a temporary ban).  For the counties the numbers are: 9 with regulations, 14 with moratoriums, and 9 with bans.

Proposition 19 requires that for commercial cultivation and distribution to be legal in the local jurisdiction that jurisdiction -must- enact a special sin tax on marijuana.  Of course, the initiative doesn’t call it a “sin” tax.

Cashing in on pain and suffering

Bloomberg announced on June 1st that charging 6% sales tax on medical marijuana purchases could generate $400,000 for the District of Columbia over the next 5 years.  This was based on an estimate provided by the District of Columbia’s Office of The Chief Financial Officer.

While patients in Los Angeles were filing suit to prevent “mega-collective dispensaries” Jeff Wilcox, on the steering committee of Proposition 19 and President of AgriMed, announced plans to invest $20 million to open just such a facility in Oakland.

AgriMed proposes to build a 100,000-square-foot medical marijuana megafarm beside Interstate 880 near Oakland International Airport that, according to projections, could generate 58 pounds of pot a day and $59 million a year in revenue.  In March, Wilcox approached the city with an economic study that proposed a 3 percent “production tax” on AgraMed, which he said could generate $1.8 million a year for the city.

Two days previous, The Oakland Tribune announced that the city was poised to issue permits to no more than four cultivation operations, while expanding the number of legally operating dispensaries from four to six, the two council members said. The plan could go to the council’s public safety committee as soon as June 22.

Meanwhile, Colorado public radio reports that with dispensaries in that state charging from $280 to $400 or more per ounce and street prices at $150 per ounce the black market in that state is not in danger.

Meanwhile, The New York Times reports that  so far in Colorado dispensary license fees have generation about $2.7 million.  Additionally, more than $681,000 in sales tax was collected from July 2009 to February 2010.  The article notes that some lawmakers in that state project to glean $15 million per year in sales tax from patients buying medicine.

The article does not mention that in Colorado the license for a pharmacy is $450 and there is no sales tax on medicine.

The article does note that on 7 Jun 2010 the governor of Colorado signed Amendment 1284 and that this 60 pages of regulations (the medical marijuana version of the initiative to be voted on in California this November) is expected to eliminate most of the dispensaries and cultivators currently operating.

Back in California, San Diego County passed regulations that include a license fee of $20,000 per dispensary.  The zoning of 1,000 feet from “homes, schools, playgrounds and churches” leaves 16 sites for medical marijuana dispensaries in that county.

Delivery crackdown announced

On 5 Jun 2010, Bakersfield.com published the first of a batch of articles focused on medical marijuana delivery services which thus far have pretty much escaped regulation in California.  Three days later NPR published a similar story.

The services are viewed as a way to circumvent local regulations clearly banning dispensaries.

The Press-Enterprise reports that Steve Hauptman has driven his 1985 Pierce Arrow to Riverside County after Norco police cited him for drug paraphernalia and operating a dispensary.  Hauptman reports that so far he has encountered no resistance from the county.  He wanted to fight the charges in Norco but said it was too costly and agreed to leave after Norco officials attempted to file a temporary restraining order against him.

On the 15th, the Los Angeles Times reported that Ventura County police raided “Mary Jane’s Bud”, touted as Ventura County’s #1 medical marijuana delivery service.

On 19 Jun 2010, The Wall Street Journal reported that the Los Angeles city council is considering a measure that would explicitly ban medical marijuana delivery services.

For more info:
Noah Kirkman Kidnapped for Not Wearing a Helmet? – Opposing Views | 20 May 2010
Marijuana legalization in California – The Harvard Crimson | 27 May 2010
Boy can return to Calgary after 2 years in US – CTV News | 28 May 2010
Marijuana tax could make $400k for DC over 5 years – Bloomberg | 1 Jun 2010
Compelling reasons for cannabis legalization – Digital Journal | 1 Jun 2010
Oakland could sanction commercial pot grows – The Oakland Tribune | 3 Jun 2010
Why You Should Vote YES on the California Initiative – Cannabis Culture | 5 Jun 2010
The Legal but Largely Unregulated World of Pot Merchants – The New York Times | 5 Jun 2010
Marijuana delivery services evade bans on dispensaries – Bakersfield.com | 5 Jun 2010
Montel Williams lights up Maine medical marijuana conference – Digital Journal | 6 Jun 2010
Marc Emery Calls Out Selfish Marijuana Growers – Drug War Chronicle | 8 Jun 2010
Pot Delivery Services Cropping Up Across California – NPR | 9 Jun 2010
Marijuana’s Black Market:  Will It Stay or Will It Go? – NPR | 9 Jun 2010
Group challenges Tehama Pot Law – Redding Record Searchlight | 10 Jun 2010
Pot-mobile parked, for now – The Press-Enterprise | 14 Jun 2010
Peter Lewis Resigns from the Marijuana Policy Project – High Times | 15 Jun 2010
Ventura County police raid marijuana-delivery service | The Los Angeles Times | 15 Jan 2010
‘Politics of Pot’ endangering state medical marijuana laws – Raw Story | 16 Jun 2010
Marijuana Dispensaries Resist L.A. Crackdown – The Wall Street Journal | 19 Jun 2010
The color of pot campaign is green, and based in Oakland – The Oakland Tribune | 20 Jun 2010
Medical pot can cost parents in custody disputes – KVAL.com | 21 Jun 2010
Pot patients can pay big in child custody disputes – The Oakland Tribune | 22 Jun 2010
When Capitalism Meets Cannabis – The New York Times | 27 Jun 2010
NAACP joins pot legalization effort – NBC Bay Area | 29 Jun 2010
Dershowitz & Gray: Prop. 19: We should say yes to legal marijuana – The Orange County Register | 28 Sep 2010

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