Calif. MMJ Guidelines Aim To Flesh Out Vague Law

  Calif. MMJ Guidelines Aim To Flesh Out Vague Law

Posted by CN Staff on September 01, 2008 at 05:19:38 PT
By Josh Richman, Oakland Tribune 
Source: Oakland Tribune 

California -- Even as state Attorney General Jerry Brown was preparing to release new medical-marijuana guidelines praised by advocates, his narcotics agents were busting a Southern California dispensary.Mixed messages? Not necessarily. Both Brown and medical marijuana advocates say the new guidelines issued Monday finally flesh out the state's notoriously vague 1996 Compassionate Use Act and pose a threat only to illegal drug dealers using the voter-approved medical marijuana law as a smoke screen.
"We've always believed that dispensaries should be regulated as opposed to the 'Wild, Wild West' situation," said Americans for Safe Access Chief Counsel Joe Elford, who conferred with the state on these guidelines. "Many, if not most, of the clubs are already in compliance, and I think in the not-so-distant future the vast majority of them will be. They wanted guidelines too, so they'd know what to do to comply with California law."The most important part of these guidelines are their recognition that storefront medical marijuana dispensaries can operate legally, Elford said Thursday."It's our view, then, that localities passing outright bans on dispensaries are acting contrary to California law," he said.Brown doesn't necessarily agree."I don't want to go beyond the guidelines," he said Friday, adding local dispensary bans are "a whole other question that I have to talk to my lawyers about, I don't want to give an opinion off the top of my head."Several Bay Area cities, including Concord, Dublin, El Cerrito, Fremont, Hercules and Livermore, have the sort of dispensary bans of which Elford spoke. Concord Senior Assistant City Attorney Mark Boehme said Friday he hasn't fully reviewed the guidelines yet — "and that's all they are: guidelines, they're not legally binding" — and nobody has contacted the city about challenging the legitimacy of its 2005 dispensary ban.Elford also said the guidelines send "a clear message to the federal government that dispensaries are here to stay, and "... that they should stop busting dispensaries because we can police are own."Fremont City Attorney Harvey Levine said, "Marijuana distribution violates federal law, and last time I looked, it doesn't get you in trouble to abide by federal law."Yet most recent federal raids have targeted dispensaries, which federal authorities claim are criminal enterprises that wouldn't meet Brown's new criteria, anyway.And, asked whether it's significant that Brown issued the guidelines just a few days after his Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement raided a Northridge marijuana dispensary, Elford replied, "I hope not "... I don't know about the timing."Brown said the only thing to read into the timing is that "we've been looking at some of the clinics that are flagrantly violating the law." The Northridge club was raided as an outgrowth of another, unrelated investigation, he said, but other clubs are under scrutiny.Many communities remain antagonistic to dispensaries, he noted. "In the Bay Area you don't feel the same intensity as when you're talking to people in Riverside and San Bernardino and San Diego and parts of the valley."Brown's 11-page document says a collective dispensary can't be operated for profit and must have a defined organizational structure including detailed records proving users are legitimate patients with doctors' recommendations."The collective should not purchase marijuana from, or sell to, non-members; instead, it should only provide a means for facilitating or coordinating transactions between members," the new guidelines say. "The cycle should be a closed circuit of marijuana cultivation and consumption with no purchases or sales to or from non-members. To help prevent diversion of medical marijuana to nonmedical markets, collectives and cooperatives should document each member's contribution of labor, resources, or money to the enterprise. They also should track and record the source of their marijuana."Dispensaries, for example, "that merely require patients to complete a form summarily designating the business owner as their primary caregiver — and then offering marijuana in exchange for cash 'donations' — are likely unlawful." Excessive amounts of marijuana and cash; failure to follow local and state laws applicable to similar businesses, such as licenses and tax payments; weapons; illegal drugs; sales to or purchases from non-members; and distribution outside California are red flags for law enforcement, the guidelines say.Elford said the "closed circuit" idea aligns with Americans for Safe Access' interpretation of Senate Bill 420, a 2003 law that tried to flesh out a structure for implementing and obeying the 1996 law. And the guidelines crystallize protections for individuals as well, directing police on when it is and isn't appropriate to make marijuana arrests of people with state- or local-issued ID cards or doctors' recommendations," he said. "We will have a very aggressive campaign to make sure localities comply with the guidelines as well as dispensaries."Brown is running for governor in 2010, so this is a good time both to flex some "tough on crime" muscles — the Attorney General's job, after all — while also mending fences with advocates for a cause still supported by most Californians. But Brown said he was only heeding the call of local law enforcement. "It clarifies the rules and makes it easier for law enforcement to do their jobs "... and the users and advocates are happy because it re-stated what is permitted by the initiative and the statute," he said. "It did what law is supposed to do — it set the ground rules for action both by individuals and by the government."Complete Title: New California Medical Marijuana Guidelines Aim To Flesh Out Vague LawSource: Oakland Tribune (CA)Author: Josh Richman, Oakland TribunePublished: September 1, 2008Copyright: 2008 MediaNews Group, Inc. Contact: triblet Website: Medical Marijuana Archives

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Comment #11 posted by FoM on September 02, 2008 at 19:29:05 PT
I hadn't seen the article. Thank you. It was very good. I am happy that I am alive to see this young african american be sworn in as President of the USA. That will be one of the defining moments in modern history for our country. 
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Comment #10 posted by afterburner on September 02, 2008 at 19:12:09 PT
FoM #9: in case you missed this Obama article
For the Descendants of King's Dream, a New Day Dawns ...DENVER, Aug. 28 -- No one said this exactly, but imagination was the quiet star of this day, that thing that leaps over walls and moves the fences of our limitations.
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Comment #9 posted by FoM on September 02, 2008 at 18:18:08 PT
I bet you'll never forget the experience. One of the things I like about Obama are the people that believe his presidency might be the answer to some of our problems. They are serious but very nice. They know how to laugh too.
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Comment #8 posted by ekim on September 02, 2008 at 17:39:48 PT
I bet the crowd was pleasant.
i could not have said it any a great big picknic we were so close at times we could not see so we just held up any of the kids so they could get a look and watched from cell fones and hand held cam=corders held high.
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Comment #7 posted by FoM on September 02, 2008 at 14:37:15 PT
That must have been great. I hope he has an event near where we live because both Stick and I want to see him. I bet the crowd was pleasant.
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Comment #6 posted by ekim on September 02, 2008 at 14:34:07 PT
went to see Obama 
last Sat nite at Battle Creek MIshort notice still 16 thousand of every color human was represented.warm and friendly was our experience of the event i would encourage anyone to see Sen. Obama 
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Comment #5 posted by purpleshadrach on September 02, 2008 at 11:44:46 PT:

New Guidelines
To Whom It May Concern: Can you trust that Attorney General Jerry Brown new guidelines are fair and equitable? #1 what will stop the misuse of information that is retrieved while law enforcement systematically checks the legitimacy of dispensaries. Law enforcement can easily get the names of suppliers, patients, etc. from those that are legitimate.  #2 who is going to protect the patient who believes he/she is purchasing from a legitimate source? Who is going to protect the suppliers of local dispensary? A dispensary does not make sense unless it can dispense something. I do not want to sound conspiratorial, but law enforcement and government do not always act in the best interest of its citizens. To me it seems like Attorney General Jerry Brown is clearing the way for the cleanup crew. After all it is an election year. William

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Comment #4 posted by FoM on September 02, 2008 at 09:47:19 PT

Just a Thought
I won't badmouth the Republicans because I don't like when people badmouth Democrats but this whole VP issue has my head spinning. 
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Comment #3 posted by FoM on September 02, 2008 at 05:33:52 PT

John Tyler 
It's strange to me too.
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Comment #2 posted by John Tyler on September 01, 2008 at 20:58:03 PT

OT Sarah Palin
Weird story. Sounds like more over reacting by the cops, etc.
All day long I have been hearing about Sarah Palin’s 17 year old pregnant daughter, Brisol, and the 27 year old boyfriend. Strange right there. (I bet the good social conservatives are privately having a fit over this.) Now, I hear that the supposedly baby that Sarah Palin had, was actually born by her daughter, but they did this switch around thing to throw everybody off, but the daughter messed things up by getting pregnant again. (Haven’t they ever heard of birth control in Alaska?) Wow. I didn’t think the Republicans could get the news people off of the hurricane story, but they did it. This is such a strange turn of events. 

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Comment #1 posted by mykeyb420 on September 01, 2008 at 09:57:32 PT

RNC raids activists
RNC Raids Have Been Targeting Video Activists
By Liliana Segura, AlterNet
Posted on September 1, 2008, Printed on September 1,
2008"St. Paul is a free country!" cried a resident of
Iglehart Avenue, a neighborhood street in St. Paul,
Minn., as she watched her next-door neighbor's house
being overtaken by police officers on Saturday
afternoon. Just one in a series of house raids over a
24-hour period the weekend before the Republican
National Convention, St. Paul police surrounded the
private home with weapons drawn, detaining people in
the backyard, while journalists, activists and
neighbors -- including several children -- looked on.Their crime? None whatsoever. No one was trespassing
or engaging in acts of civil disobedience. Instead,
members of I-Witness Video, a New York-based media
watchdog group that records police activity in order
to protect civil liberties, were holding an organizing
meeting at 949 Iglehart, the home of St. Paul resident
Mike Whalen, when armed police officers arrived in the
early afternoon and ordered their surrender.Among them was Eileen Clancy, founder of I-Witness
Video, as well as a producer with Democracy Now! DN!
host Amy Goodman and her staff had just arrived at
Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport when they
received word that producer Elizabeth Press was in the
house and being threatened with arrest.An urgent alert had been sent by Clancy:This is Eileen Clancy. ... The house where I-Witness
Video is staying in St. Paul has been surrounded by
police. We have locked all the doors. We have been
told that if we leave we will be detained. One of our
people who was caught outside is being detained in
handcuffs in front of the house. The police say that
they are waiting to get a search warrant. More than a
dozen police are wielding firearms …
... We are asking the public to contact the office of
St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman at 651-266-8510 to stop
this house arrest, this gross intimidation by police
officers, and the detention of media activists and
By the time we arrived at the 900 block at Iglehart
Ave a short while later, the people in the house had
been handcuffed and taken out back. Police officers
could be seen sitting in unmarked cars, blocking off
the residential street, where a growing crowd of
observers gathered in front and across the street from
the blue house with green columns, straining to get a
glimpse of what was happening.With two officers flanking the entrance of the house,
it was hard to see anything -- but moments later, a
woman emerged from the house next door. "You guys go
in my backyard," she called out. "They're handcuffed
back here!" With that, the crowd rushed around to the
back, where over a short chain-link fence they spotted
the handcuffed group, seated and surrounded by stoic
police in sunglasses."These are nice people," the neighbor admonished the
cops. "These are good people."Sitting with her hands behind her back, Clancy spoke
calmly and deliberately as she described what had
happened and answered questions from people on the
other side of the fence. Someone asked whether they
had been read their Miranda rights. "Fuck no!" yelled
one of the detainees.As Press would later explain, a pair of police
officers had actually shown up at the house earlier
that day, at 11 in the morning, asking about the owner
of the house. One of them identified himself as being
with the FBI. "I think that was them just checking out
the scene at the house," said Press, who videotaped
the officers coming to the door. They claimed to want
to question a former resident about an action that had
occurred a few months earlier. "We're not here from
the convention," one officer said. Nervous I-Witness
members didn't know what to make of it -- "We were
like, this is f-d up let's get out of here," recalled
Press -- but they chose to finish their meeting
anyway. It was only when they were getting ready to
leave that the police showed up, some 20 officers this
time, with guns drawn.Sara Coffey of the National Lawyers Guild had just
left the house and was immediately handcuffed. But, as
described in Clancy's alert, Press and the rest of the
people in the duplex refused to let the police in
because they did not have a warrant. However, at
around 3:00 p.m., a warrant materialized for the
adjacent space, apartment 951. "They entered through
951, detained everyone in that apartment, including
the owner," recalled Press, "… and then broke into 949
through the attic." The police entered with their guns
drawn, ordered everyone's hands up and handcuffed
them.Their belongings were confiscated and searched, and
the group was assembled in the backyard. But soon
after the crowd gathered with video cameras and legal
observers, including an attorney for Mike Whalen --
and after Amy Goodman jumped the fence to interview
people and ask the cops why they were holding
nonviolent people who had done nothing wrong -- they
were released.Preemptive StrikesUnlike the preceding raids, including one targeting
the convergence space of the RNC Welcoming Committee
-- an anarchist group dubiously described by Ramsey
County Sheriff Bob Fletcher as "a criminal enterprise
… intent on committing criminal acts" -- the raid on
the I-Witness house was specifically designed to
target media activists whose mission is to hold police
officers responsible for abusing their authority.
I-Witness Video was instrumental in documenting police
abuse during the 2004 Republican National Convention
in New York, during which some 1,800 people were
arrested. Working in cooperation with the National
Lawyers Guild, I-Witness Video led to the dismissal of
charges or the acquittal of some 400 protesters. This
summer, New York City authorities subpoenaed I-Witness
Video for tapes from the protests. In an interview
with Democracy Now! on Aug. 1, Clancy discussed the
group's plans for the political conventions.We're going to bring a crew to both presidential
conventions. It's pretty exciting. I mean, one of the
reasons we're very interested in covering the
conventions is (not) because we want … bad things to
happen, but because the focus of the federal
government, the law enforcement agencies and all that
is very keenly directed at demonstrators. And when you
cover these events completely, you're able to see the
patterns. The patterns emerge.
"I-Witness definitely does document things like police
brutality and policing in general during situations of
conflict," I-Witness member Emily Foreman, one of
three members who managed to leave the house only to
be followed by police and pulled over on their bikes,
told a reporter with The Uptake after the raid, noting
that that could make the group a target, "not because
of anything illegal but because of our interest in
upholding the law."Nevertheless, the list of items police were looking
for would suggest the activists were nothing short of
terror suspects. "Packages and contents, firearms and
ammunition, holsters, cleaning equipment for firearms,
(and) weapons devices" were included in the warrant
read by Whalen, who spoke to reporters shortly after
his handcuffs were removed. Asked what connection he
had to the I-Witness Video activists, he replied, "no
connection," adding, "People needed a place to stay,
and I support the work they do."Series of RaidsAll told, six raids took place in St. Paul in 24
hours, resulting in six arrests. (Read about the other
raids here.) On Sunday, the Minnesota Chapter of the
National Lawyers Guild sent out a press release
announcing that it is "seeking prompt judicial review"
of the "preventative detentions" of the six people
arrested, all of whom remain on "probable cause holds"
in the Ramsey County Jail. According to the press
release: "In Minnesota, a probable cause hold can be
ordered by a police officer without a prosecutor or a
judge reviewing a criminal complaint. Due to the
arrest occurring on a weekend holiday, all six
citizens can be held until Wednesday, September 3,
2008, without the filing of a formal charge."The extent of the federal involvement in the raids is
not entirely clear. Although they were reportedly
spearheaded by the Ramsey County Sheriff's office, St.
Paul Police coordinated them with the FBI.
Furthermore, according to the Star Tribune, the raids
were "aided by informants planted in protest groups."
Indeed, as Glenn Greenwald reminded readers on Sunday,
the Minneapolis Joint Terrorist Task Force spent
months recruiting people to spy on activist groups
planning to protest the RNC. On May 21, the
Minneapolis City Pages ran a bizarre but chilling
story titled "Moles Wanted," about the recruitment
efforts by the task force -- specifically, attempts to
enlist people to "attend 'vegan potlucks' throughout
the Twin Cities and rub shoulders with RNC protesters"
in a mission to "investigate terrorist acts carried
out by groups or organizations which fall within the
definition of terrorist groups as set forth in the
current United States Attorney General Guidelines.""This is all part of a larger government effort to
quell political dissent," attorney Jordan Kushner,
told the City Pages at the time. "The Joint Terrorism
Task Force is another example of using the buzzword
'terrorism' as a basis to clamp down on people's
freedoms and push forward a more authoritarian
government."With most of the subjects of the raids eventually
released, the consensus among activists at the RNC in
the wake of the raids is that the police actions are
mainly meant to stop protests, lawful or not, before
they start. "I think what they're doing is trying to
intimidate people," said Press. But even as the GOP
plans to scale back its convention activities in the
face of Hurricane Gustav, with multiple protests
scheduled for the week, the actions of the police do
not seem to be doing much to dissuade people from
going forward with their plans.The next day, a group of peaceful marchers organized
by Veterans for Peace headed downtown. With armed
police officers far outnumbering protesters, several
marchers were discussing the raids. "It's
intimidation, absolutely," VFP member Leah Bolger
said. "People are harassed to no end." Although
veterans groups were not among the targeted
organizations, word of the raids had spread quickly
among the demonstrators. "I started this work as part
of the peace movement," said Bolger, a 20-year veteran
of the U.S. Navy. "But more and more it's about civil
rights. … When I hear about the raids, it's just
really upsetting and frightening," she said. But not
necessarily surprising. In this era of the supposed
"war on terror," she said, Americans have become used
to trading civil rights for a perceived safety.
"They're willing to throw away their civil liberties."

RNC pre-emptive strikes
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