MMJ Legal in California, but Feds Still Raid 

MMJ Legal in California, but Feds Still Raid 
Posted by CN Staff on August 19, 2007 at 08:58:04 PT
By Harrison Sheppard, Sacramento Bureau 
Source: Los Angeles Daily News 
Sacramento, CA -- More than a decade after California voters approved legalized medical marijuana, an explosion of dispensaries and patients has cities and counties scrambling to regulate the operations. In Los Angeles - where the number of dispensaries soared from just a handful to more than 200 in the past two years - stunned city officials recently passed a moratorium on new clinics until they can develop guidelines.
Hundreds of other cities up and down California have no regulations at all on medical marijuana dispensaries, including at least 28 where clinics or delivery services are operating, according to a Daily News analysis. Law enforcement officials say a lack of local oversight could allow dispensaries to open near schools or parks, with no way for authorities to remedy the situation. "I think they could easily be surprised," said Modesto Police Chief Roy Wasden, who chairs a statewide task force on medical marijuana. "They're not prepared for the issues that will surround dispensaries opening up." According to Americans for Safe Access, a medical marijuana advocacy group, 26 cities and eight counties in California have ordinances allowing and regulating dispensaries. An additional 55 cities and two counties have enacted bans (which some advocates maintain are illegal), and 75 cities and six counties have imposed temporary moratoriums. The remainder of the state's 478 incorporated cities and 58 counties have yet to specifically address the issue. Throughout California, there are at least 400 known medical marijuana dispensaries - and likely hundreds more that are unpublicized. About 15,000 Californians have registered for state medical-marijuana identification cards. Because the cards are voluntary and not required to obtain medical marijuana, officials cannot say with certainty how many people actually are seeking the drug. Pro-legalization groups estimate there are 150,000 to 200,000 medical-marijuana users in California - up from about 30,000 just five years ago. Law enforcement agencies remain concerned about the potential for unregulated dispensaries, with their stashes of drugs and cash, to attract crime to neighborhoods. And some of the facilities, they say, are simply profit-making enterprises that sell at stiff prices to healthy youths and the seriously ill alike. The Los Angeles Police Department has reported an increase in crime near some facilities and has received complaints about activities, including one dispensary handing out fliers for free marijuana samples to students at Grant High School in Valley Glen. But medical-marijuana advocates and some academic experts say such concerns are overblown. "I think that's something that law enforcement is using as a tactic to spread fear," said Kris Hermes, a spokesman for Americans for Safe Access. "And to intimidate city and county officials from doing what's right and what's just, which is to establish protections for these facilities and, if necessary, regulate them in some sensible way." The Reason Foundation issued a report earlier this year saying that marijuana-related crimes have decreased since Proposition 215 - allowing medical use of marijuana in California - was passed by voters in 1996. "Common sense would say there's no reason why a well-regulated dispensary would add to ambient crime in the neighborhood at all," said report author Skaidra Smith-Heisters. The only factor that might contribute to crime, she said, "would be the fact that they're operating without any ground rules right now." While the Bay Area was the first to embrace medical marijuana - and its cities were the first to figure out how to handle dispensaries - more recently the fastest growth has shifted to Los Angeles, and especially the San Fernando Valley. Only three years ago, the city had perhaps one or two known dispensaries. Today, there are at least 150 listed in directories maintained by advocacy groups. City and law enforcement officials believe there are as many as 200 to 400. About half of the city's known dispensaries are in the San Fernando Valley, meaning a region that has roughly 5 percent of the state's population has 19 percent of its medical marijuana facilities - more, in fact, than the entire Bay Area from San Jose to Marin County. "The center of gravity on this shifted in the last couple of years," said Dale Gieringer, director of the California chapter of the pro-legalization group NORML. "When it started out, everything was in Northern California." The first clubs in Los Angeles County, he said, were established in West Hollywood by operators from the Bay Area. "After they got established down there, it took a year or two before somebody was willing to put their toe in across the city line. Then they did, and all of a sudden, it was `Katy, bar the door.' The great cannabis rush was on," he said. The Los Angeles City Council recently placed a moratorium on the opening of new facilities while it figures out how to deal with the growth. Council members are generally sympathetic to legitimate dispensaries that are seen as helping the seriously ill, but they want to be able to regulate them and weed out the bad actors. Although California voters legalized medical marijuana in 1996, growth has only occurred recently because there had been confusion about how the law worked. In 2003, the state enacted legislation spelling out a series of specific regulations. But even as the U.S. Supreme Court in 2005 essentially confirmed the validity of Proposition 215, it also upheld the federal government's right to prosecute marijuana patients under federal law. And that has prompted growing tensions, including in Los Angeles, where the federal Drug Enforcement Agency has launched raids against dispensaries. "We're not going to stop enforcing the federal laws now," said Sarah Pullen, spokeswoman for the DEA's Los Angeles region. About nine states have laws permitting medical marijuana, according to Rosalie Pacula, a drug policy analyst with the RAND Corp. But California has attracted more attention from the feds, in part, she said, because its laws are looser than other states', allowing patients to possess larger quantities and allowing dispensaries to flourish. "If you're really interested in protecting patients, keep the quantities low," Pacula said. Some in Congress are trying to get the DEA to back off, including Reps. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Huntington Beach, and Maurice Hinchey, D-N.Y., who are backing a bill that would block funding for prosecutions of medical-marijuana patients. Without such protections, businesses that believe they are operating legitimately under California state law still keep a jittery eye out for federal agents and often try to maintain a low profile. Holistic Alternative Inc., a nonprofit dispensary in Canoga Park, opened three months ago and finds it hard to attract new patients because it can't advertise. Instead, it and other facilities rely on Internet advertising - a more discreet option than hanging a big sign out front. David, a co-owner who asked that his last name be withheld, said he founded the dispensary with a partner who takes marijuana for medicinal purposes and wanted to help others. "I would hope they would leave us alone because most of our patients are actually really sick," he said. "Probably 90 (percent) to 95 percent of my patients are really sick and do need the medicine. "If they don't get it from us, I can't see these older ladies and gentlemen in their 60s and 70s walking around getting drugs off the street." Complete Title: Medical Marijuana Legal in California, but Feds Still Raid Dispensaries Source: Los Angeles Daily News (CA)Author: Harrison Sheppard, Sacramento Bureau LA Daily News Published: August 18, 2007Copyright: 2007 Los Angeles Newspaper GroupWebsite: http://www.dailynews.comContact: Medical Marijuana Archives
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Comment #6 posted by Had Enough on August 24, 2007 at 10:29:16 PT
Cops & Robbers
Canadian Police Caught Attempting To Stage RiotsQuebec provincial authorities have admitted that three rock-wielding mask-wearing "anarchists" were in fact police infiltrators used to gather information on protesters at this week's SPP summit, but authorities are still ludicrously denying the fact that the provocateurs were intent on causing a riot in order to justify a heavy-handed response.more….
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Comment #5 posted by FoM on August 24, 2007 at 10:20:46 PT
LAPD Releases Surveillance Video 
LAPD Releases Surveillance Video Of Medical Marijuana Robbery
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Comment #4 posted by afterburner on August 20, 2007 at 00:15:16 PT
No More Free Ride for Alcohol Pushers
Alcohol is a dream-killer. Alcohol is "liquid guilt." Alcohol should be labelled with graphic warnings showing the dangers of excessive alcohol consumption, like tobacco has been in some countries. For example (with gruesome pictures): Excessive consumption of alcohol causes car accidents. Excessive consumption of alcohol causes domestic violence. Excessive consumption of alcohol causes cirrhosis of the liver. Excessive consumption of alcohol destroys brain cells. Some countries have passed legislation to require graphic warnings on cigarette packages. The U.S. government is considering passing similar legislation. Editorials: Making cigarette-pack warnings more graphic a good idea. SUMMARY: Congress is considering a plan to mimic Canada's in-your-face photo advisories. | Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram. July 30, 2007 have been trying to get warnings on alcohol for quite a while. The following article from 2005 is a good example. Community Alcohol Action Network: CAAN - GrogWatch 2005 - GrogWatch - 24 October, 2005, do your duty. Go beyond drunk driving, about which you have successfully educated the public. Focus on the health risks of excessive alcohol consumption. Focus on domestic violence and the high percentage of alcohol abuse in such cases. Do it for the children. Some of them don't know that alcohol kills brain cells. With alcohol advertisements romanticizing strong drink in the form of "coolers," our young people are becoming binge drinkers with all the attendant risks of poor judgment, injury and death. Young people pay attention to simple graphic facts, like turning off lights to help prevent global warming. Give them the graphic labels they need to make wiser choices regarding alcohol consumption.So much energy, human resources and tax dollars are wasted on demonizing cannabis, that benign plant with a long history of centuries of medical use. Cannabis, given by God as medicine. Yet, governments have squandered scarce resources for almost a century, causing many politicians to deny that cannabis indeed has any medical uses. It's high time to stop this destructive campaign against medical cannabis. It's time to reveal that alcohol producers are major opponents of cannabis law reform. It's time to make alcohol producers responsible for the damages their products do to society in the hands of careless and uninformed members of society. We don't want a return to alcohol prohibition. We want informed citizens making responsible choices. 
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Comment #3 posted by FoM on August 19, 2007 at 18:53:43 PT
Thank you for all you do. I appreciate all your work.
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Comment #2 posted by The GCW on August 19, 2007 at 18:22:38 PT
The bogeyman... 
"The bogeyman has prohibited, persecuted and exterminated cannabis (kaneh bosm) long enough." -0-US MA: PUB LTE: Epstein Is an American Hero"High Time?" was also posted here at C-News
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Comment #1 posted by NikoKun on August 19, 2007 at 16:54:35 PT
What some politicians seem to think...
I recently saw an article on celeb stoner that was about some questions asked to some politician, over Medical Marijuana and the recent raids...Both politicians said they didn't think Marijuana was a medicine, and that they wouldn't stop the raids... -_-Why do politicians think they have better knowledge on the topic, than Doctors do?
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