Cannabis News The November Coalition
  One City's Insane Fight Against Obama's Pot Policy
Posted by CN Staff on October 27, 2009 at 12:57:59 PT
By John H. Richardson  
Source: Esquire  

medical Los Angeles, CA -- Two years ago, in the throes of a Bush administration that disregarded states' rights whenever it felt like getting high on itself, there were fewer than two hundred medical-marijuana outlets in Los Angeles. Today, even the most conservative estimates say that number has quadrupled. On one stretch of Santa Monica Boulevard alone, four thriving pot shops estimate their tax payments at $4 million a year. Got an emergency radiation treatment and can't find the nearest store? There's an iPhone app for that.

With patient demand pushing dispensaries in several of the fourteen states that allow medical marijuana to expand their business, the Obama administration last week ordered the Justice Department to respect state laws and stop harassing them.

You would think, after our new president's ups and downs on what is ultimately the road to wholesale legalization, that calling off the pot bullies would be, by all accounts, A Good Thing. Hundreds of thousands — if not millions — of Americans have used the approved stuff, after all, whether as therapeutic medicine or therapeutic something else.

Trouble is, all this common sense seems to have fried the brains of the law-enforcement leaders in the City of Los Angeles. They've suddenly come up with a bizarre new interpretation of the law — that the requirement for pot dispensaries to be "nonprofit" actually means that they can't accept cash.

Yes, you read that right. This is how Deputy City Attorney David Berger put it: "We can still use state law to enforce, and we still believe that the only legal way to do that is to enforce against the selling of marijuana, as opposed to giving it away as a collective."

This has to be the first time in American history that the government is ordering its citizens to start collectivizing our farms.

The backwards logic was codified in the fourth version of a draft ordinance that City Attorney Carmen Trutanich submitted last Tuesday to the Los Angeles city council. Apparently a hard-core member of the Marxist-Leninist wing of the Republican party, Trutanich even argued that dispensary owners shouldn't use cash to pay for labor or fertilizer — that the voters of California actually intended for marijuana to be produced and dispensed, unlike all other drugs in the known universe, on a pure barter system. (This from the man who made Michael Jackson's funeral look like it switched from the Staples Center to Tammany Hall.)

Naturally, the government's marijuana bait-and-switch over the past eight days has producers and dispensers very upset. When I spoke with her late last week, Yamileth Bolanos, owner of a shop called PureLife Alternatives and president of an influential medical-marijuana trade group, summed up the general sentiment:

"They expect people who are sick and on chemotherapy to get up and farm their own crop? If you're not directly involved in growing the crop, you can't have any of it?"

Imagine the unintended consequences, Bolanos said. "They say there's between 250,000 and 300,000 medical marijuana patients in the city of Los Angeles, and we don't have wide-open spaces here where we can grow. That means every building in Los Angeles will be a grow site."

The draft ordinance is city's latest attempt to bring some kind of order to the explosion of pot stores, all of which have so far failed. Bolanos insists that she and the marijuana community want to be partners in this, helping to clean up the shady cannabis clubs that don't pay taxes or check prescriptions. "We've been screaming for regulation," she told me. "I've gone to the city council and said, 'Show us the rules. Tell us what to do, so we can provide for patients in a safe manner.' [But] the city let the situation get out of hand — they wouldn't give us regulations, so we made up our own regulations, we started accrediting clubs. We follow the rules very strictly, but what they're asking us to do now is impossible."

For example, the draft ordinance includes a clause saying you can't have a shop across an alley from a residential area. "That alone wipes us all out," Bolanos says. "Who doesn't have an alley behind a commercial property in Los Angeles? That's how the blocks were built — the outer block is commercial and there's residential behind it."

A true believer in medical marijuana, Bolanos began smoking when she was diagnosed with liver cancer. "I use cannabis every day — I have a new liver, I don't want to put any medicine in my body that will tax my liver. What are people supposed to do, go back to the streets? That's what they're doing: they're sending sick people out on the street to get their medication."

As a result, she has no sympathy for the argument that the government should just stop the charade and legalize pot altogether. "No, no, I am not for full legalization — this is medicine to me. There are real patients here. It's very sad that because of a few people who are abusing the system, the real patients have to suffer. What is the old line? Non-sinners pay for what sinners do?"

Despite all that, nobody really thinks this fight is about medicine. It's about the virtual legalization of drugs that is slowly but surely happening in California. Here's are some of the online reviews for a club in Reseda called Nature's Natural Collective Care, for example:

"They have a nice little smoke room where you can try your samples and they have a few water pipes, glass pipes, papers in there for you to use. I was asking about a certain strain and the guy busted out the Cannibible and gave me the low down on that strain. I like that type of service."

"They have over 60 strains at times all capped at $50 an 1/8th and no more than $400 an oz on the highest quality. With ounces ranging from like $180-$400. They even let you have free samples."

"Full O's are all sub $400 for great shit and the service here from the budtenders is beyond fantastic. Their knowledge and ability to work with you is amazing."

As the right-wingers warned from the beginning, medical marijuana is turning out to be the genie you can't stuff back in the bottle. Even if the L.A. city council's rushed vote comes down in favor of the Trutanich ordinance, it seems likely that the regulations will be overturned in the courts — which is exactly what happened with Trutanich's last attempt to shut down the clubs. The state attorney general has already gone on record saying — and reiterated to when we asked him for comment — that the law allows sales. In the end, this case of bureaucratic bullying — and others across the country as states come to terms with a (relatively) sane White House pot policy — will be just another pointless and expensive skirmish on the inevitable road to marijuana legalization.

But for now, the fight is on: One day after Trutanich submitted the draft ordinance, the LAPD raided Nature's Natural.

"We expect more," Bolanos says. "They told us there are going to be more. We are in the fight for our lives."

Note: The administration has officially put a stop to crackdowns on the medical-marijuana business, but to hear the dispensers tell it, nothing's stopping Los Angeles from finding every last ridiculous loophole.

Source: Esquire (US)
Author: John H. Richardson
Published: October 27, 2009
Copyright: 2009 Hearst Communications, Inc.

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Comment #30 posted by FoM on October 28, 2009 at 16:51:08 PT
Nothing In Life Of Value Is Easy
Anything that matters takes dedication to make it work. The same thing would apply to people who grow cannabis.

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Comment #29 posted by Hope on October 28, 2009 at 16:10:33 PT
Of course
when he says that, it's usually to me, in reference to some household project I have in mind for him to do. But it would apply, of course, to anything... including the topic of our discussion.

"It's always easy to the one that doesn't have to do it."

Of course, I can't argue with that. It's true.

Sometimes it is hard, just watching, and waiting, though, and in his case... hearing all the cussing.

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Comment #28 posted by Hope on October 28, 2009 at 16:04:41 PT
As my beloved husband likes to say, "It's always easy to the one that doesn't have to do it."

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Comment #27 posted by museman on October 28, 2009 at 16:02:42 PT
Based on my experience as a long time cannabis user -who remembers the $10 'Lid' from the mythical era of the '70's' (often lumped in with the '60's), who had the honor of being one of the first recipients of decriminalized marijuana ticket in Ca, in 1976, and my experience as a guerrilla farmer for many years, as well as a long standing relationship with many indoor growers over the years, I can say a few things about the labor, time and investment of resources that goes into cultivating quality, medicinal grade cannabis.

First of all, I think we can agree that the current monetary value of cannabis is greatly affected by all the nuances of prohibition, and that when common sense finally makes its way to the 'top' and prohibition is ended, then the price is most suredly going to drop.

However, I do know the kind of energy it takes to have a good crop. And believe it or not, just as in growing other kinds of crops (in terms of quality vs quantity) a 'green thumb' is a necessary ingredient.

To think that medical grade cannabis could be grown in fields, in rows, and harvested with some kind of John Deer mutant machine, with about the same care and attention as a Monsanto corn field, is a pretty sickening thought -to me anyway.

I disagree however that the best Bud is all grown indoors. In this case, there is the element of taste and preference; flavor and potency, as well as type. While it is true that indoor bud can be a more controlled environment, I must point out that though it is an indoor, controlled environment, that the best results area technological simulation of the best of all natural worlds; lots of light (sun), air circulation (wind), water -indoors it must be cycled and filtered so it doesn't toxify the growing medium -(but outdoors the natural percolation of the soil, with enough water, accomplishes this), and food -nitrogen and phosphates. All quite simplified in that description, but involving a lot of peripheral technologies to accomplish the end goal.

I submit that all of those conditions can be met in a seasonal manner just as well, and that the result IMO, is just as high quality (or better) as can be produced indoors.

It certainly is not as simple as just having the right seed or strain. The care and feeding that goes into high grade medicinal cannabis is labor intensive, whether it is indoors or outdoors. It is a bit more with the indoors I would think bcause of the constant worry of mold, bacteria, and mites that comes from an unrefreshed, closed room, and the technologies used must be constantly monitored.

The myth that states the 'weed' theory; as if anyone could grow quality cannabis, anywhere with minimal effort, is only partly true.

Yes, cannabis will grow anywhere, but quality cannabis requires much time, attention, and gardening. And though it seems a bit weird to some, the practice of 'trimming' the bud is an important part of the process. Even though some BC entrepeneurs came up with a device that trims bud like an xmas tree (lots o waste) that practice is also time and labor consuming. And a large grow requires a large number of people to do the job, its not something one person can do without major burnout. Right now in So Oregon there are hundreds of unemployed people getting temporary employment doing this job.

The idea that corporations could produce 'commercial' grades for lower prices, might be a possibility, but the demand, unless the new prohibtionists (regulators and controllers) succeed in selling the public their 'fast-food' version of cannabis, will still require the quality, that by the nature and spirit of the plant will not thrive in an industrial farming environment.

There are so many nuances involved in growing quality herb, that it is a skill needing both education (information) and dedication.

How much should it cost? Well the $10 ounce is never coming back. To try and figure the costs and overheads, with potential profit, is all rather ambiguous at this point. Is it overpriced? Is healthcare overpriced? Is there a price to put on feeling good, or relieving pain?

Apparently the controllers of the monetary-based economy think so, or else the pharmaceutical companies wouldn't be getting legal help from their lobbied reps in government, like the FDA consistently allowing toxic drugs into the public hands as fake cures.

So, if the people and planet rapers can get rich from their huge list of crimes, why shouldn't cannabis growers? Maybe if the goose got down from the throne of hypocrisy, the gander might have to accept the changes, and the price of cannabis would come down. But don't blame the greed on the growers, look a bit higher on the social scale first, and get a look at REAL greed.


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Comment #26 posted by Hope on October 28, 2009 at 16:01:48 PT
Comment 22
Hey, Stick, I do, too!

And it was good... and we liked it!


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Comment #25 posted by FoM on October 28, 2009 at 14:04:18 PT
I didn't say quality cannabis is easy to grow just that many people can do it. The Internet has taught many people how to do a top notch job and quality seeds were or are available. I have been told this by different people in different states. I have been told this by consumers.

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Comment #24 posted by herbdoc215 on October 28, 2009 at 13:55:39 PT
If cannabis is so easy to grow and breed outside
then how come not even one cartel with ALL their money can breed/come up with even one product/strains that is even as famous as BC bud crap...after all these years and gosh knows how much money incentive Mexican and other third world weed is swag...still can buy it for $2-400 a pound just like when I was a kids MANY years ago? Even when they grow it here it's bs and doesn't make it tot he clubs due to quality no matter what the price? Just food for thought? It's never as easy as it's seems or the cops make it out to be...just ask all those patients whom have tried and failed. peace, steve

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Comment #23 posted by herbdoc215 on October 28, 2009 at 13:43:55 PT
Fom, I would truly debate what "superiour"
Is as Humboldt and a few other places didn't get famous from hype but because they changed the definition of what "superior" is to the one we have now on west coast. Without a baseline to determine quality is very subjective...kind of like shades of color without the wheels/splotches to show gradients it's all relative...some of the strains/grades in California defy explanation if you haven't experienced them. peace, steve

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Comment #22 posted by FoM on October 28, 2009 at 13:30:55 PT
Storm Crow
Stick remembers when a dime bag cost $10. He wanted me to say that. I agree with you on pricing of quality cannabis.

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Comment #21 posted by Storm Crow on October 28, 2009 at 13:18:11 PT
When I started using cannabis......
over 40 years ago, I paid $10 for a FAT ounce. Chicken (at a small local market) was 25 CENTS a pound. Last week, chicken was on sale (at a different, small local market)for just less than a dollar a pound. So a fourfold increase in price over the years.

Recently, I paid $30 a POUND for "el cheapo" ginseng (under $2 per ounce). Ginseng is a perennial and takes years to harvest. You only get a few dry ounces of roots per plant. Cannabis is an easy to grow annual, can produce a pound (or more) per plant if grown under good outdoor conditions and is much less fussy about soil conditions than ginseng. The price of cannabis should be way less than Ginseng, but I don't see that happening, sadly.

So from those two pricing examples, I would say that between $10 and $50 per ounce would be considered as fair. But I am still hoping to see those fat $10 ounces back! After the initial set up costs (under $200), I grow my own indoors for about $10-$20 per ounce- mostly for electricity and fertilizers. If I grew outdoors, the price would be pennies an ounce.

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Comment #20 posted by herbdoc215 on October 28, 2009 at 13:16:54 PT
None of this mentions the true biggest overhead
LEGAL representation...lawyers for this and that, permits, codes and inspections, plus we maintained a $4 million dollar Liability policy which we (or anybody I've heard of else for that matter) had to pay for, salaries, equipment that constantly had to be replaced, not to mention the bane of all co-ops...employee shrink... ALL added up at the end of every month just like clockwork! Then you get to spend every waking moment poring through arcane bs paperwork...oh the joys I remember...on top of all that was all the meeting, endless meetings... As soon as the lawyers quite trying to run the shows and let the professionals do their jobs then the real business can get to hand as there are tons of folks poised to jump on the band wagon just waiting for it to get up to speed! Hope, someday no matter what somewhere we'll all have to have a big CN'er reunion and I'll save the juiciest flowers for you with a pipe of full melt bubble hash to wash it down with:) peace, steve

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Comment #19 posted by FoM on October 28, 2009 at 13:05:11 PT
I'm not really sure what you mean but I know that there is superior cannabis grown everywhere. When cannabis is legal top notch growers will come out of the woodwork and the prices will drop as competition goes up. Supply and demand will dictate price like it does in everything in a capitalistic country like ours. As long as it is illegal the prices will be high.

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Comment #18 posted by Hope on October 28, 2009 at 12:11:51 PT
Egads, Herbdoc.
You're making me "Hungry" just talking about it.

Sounds so good!

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Comment #17 posted by herbdoc215 on October 28, 2009 at 11:56:38 PT
These price/tax debates have been needed
for quite some time I've thought, as it is a much more complicated issue than appears on the surface. Even after legalization there will still be a healthy indoor demand as the AAA top quality cannot be reproduced anywhere else...greenhouses cannot control every perimeter the same as an indoor grow house done right, and outdoor is almost impossible to be grown to true medical grade due to airborne contaminants in my opinion. The power consumption, equipment, manpower and overhead from running a 'medical' quality indoor production area are also much higher than the average person would think unless they have been involved before in a co-op situation before...also in my experience cannabis has much greater medical effect at higher strengths and is more likely to be maintained at therapeutic levels the more palatable it is??? (Excuse my typing lately as this new thumb-pad keeps moving cursor and making my writing an exercise in correcting more than discussing?) None of this also takes into account the myriad of new products innovators in California up with already from cannabis...the genie truly is out of the bottle and soon everybody is going to want to experience what those lucky enough to live/move to California have been taking for granted for the last dozen years. I thank most are like me when it comes to willingness to pay taxes, it's much better than lawyers and if it gives them a reason to leave us be then I'll gladly pay them. peace, steve

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Comment #16 posted by Hope on October 28, 2009 at 11:53:14 PT
The way you worded that "Goodbye" sounds alarming.

I'm worried. What's wrong?

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Comment #15 posted by Hope on October 28, 2009 at 11:50:24 PT
Comment 13
Good grief, EJ!

What's wrong?

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Comment #14 posted by FoM on October 28, 2009 at 09:06:58 PT
I really don't know why. What's wrong EJ.

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Comment #13 posted by E_Johnson on October 28, 2009 at 08:56:14 PT
Goodbye everyone
FoM knows why.

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Comment #12 posted by JoeCitizen on October 28, 2009 at 08:45:19 PT
herbdoc215 is right
I agree with Steve (herbdoc215) but, Cannis420 also has a bit of a point.

I can go out today and spend upward of $500/bottle on Dom Perignion or Krug champagne. Or I can buy a bottle of cheap stuff for New Years at less than a tenth of that cost.

If the cannabis market were legalized, there should be a similar spread of prices for different grades of cannabis. Maybe $30 to $300 for an ounce, cheaper yet it it's medicine, maybe more expensive if it's the hand product of one of those top 24 growers in the world.

Cannabis is just a plant. But left to its own ways, the plant NEVER produces big beautiful buds. That takes a certain art and skill, and the artist should be properly compensated for his/her time and training.



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Comment #11 posted by herbdoc215 on October 27, 2009 at 19:12:31 PT
how much should an ounce of gold cost?
When it's a legal product the price of 'some' cannabis is going to go through the roof as certain strains/quality take a LOT more money/knowledge to grow than most think and supply and demand sets the price of everything else in this entire country so why does so many people think cannabis should be any different. I think the trick will be setting up a 3-tier system similar to Canadian, with tier 1 sickest patients getting everything for 100% free, tier 2 seriously ill patients (disabled, handicapped, vets, etc.) should get best grades at $3-$6 a gram, tier 3 patients are those with recommendations/scripts for less serious illnesses such as stress,etc...I have no problem with charging those folks market price-top dollar to off-set costs for sick folks...the system would be subsidized by those who can afford it the most!

Don Peron costs considerable more than screw-top jug wine...real AAA cannabis is going to always cost more than swag, and there isn't but a couple of dozen people in the entire world who know how to mass produce AAA organically produced quality ensured cannabis.

Some hippies in BC also taught me that "non-profit" doesn't always mean what most think and doesn't preclude crazy salaries, perks, expense accounts, etc. so the government insistence in this case is ironic considering bank bailout funds and CEO pay off public dollars they couldn't complain if CEO's made 7 figures? None of this is to imply that I think big money should be's just that some people have spent years training for this and deserve compensation the same as any other specialist! Just some thoughts from my experience, peace, steve

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Comment #10 posted by Canis420 on October 27, 2009 at 18:57:08 PT:

Price and taxes
I would agree that whatever the state sales tax is would be ok with me. I do not believe that home growers should have to pay anything unless the product is destined for the retail arena. It does not cost home brewers any tax to make their own beer. Or if someone wants to grow their own tobacco, which ppl do, they do not pay any special tax. I think that once it becomes widespread legal the price will fall dramatically. The economics of supply and demand will take over.

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Comment #9 posted by FoM on October 27, 2009 at 18:29:02 PT
Thank you. I think we need to say what we feel about how much it should cost. How should Cannabis be taxed? Should people who grow it pay a tax or just on the retail end? The tax they have on cigarettes is terrible. I don't know what the tax on alcohol is though. Shouldn't it be a simple sales tax only? Whatever our state's sales tax is would be ok with me.

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Comment #8 posted by Canis420 on October 27, 2009 at 18:12:14 PT:

I do not think it should be above $50.00 an ounce. It is just plant material for cryin out loud. If it were legal it could be produced in mass quantities, out in the open, just like any other agricultural product. $400.00 an ounce seems greedy to me. Why is it that it still commands black market prices in the medical realm?

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Comment #7 posted by FoM on October 27, 2009 at 18:07:42 PT
News Article From
Bill Would Give Leverage To Federal Medical Marijuana Defendants

By Stephen C. Webster

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

New legislation expected to be introduced this week would give federal medical marijuana defendants greater leverage in federal court by allowing attorneys to present evidence of medical use and compliance with local and state laws, a move prohibited under current law.

The "Truth in Trials Act," authored by Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA) and co-sponsored by 20 other Democrats and Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), "enables individuals facing federal prosecution for marijuana-related offenses to provide evidence during trial that the activities they were engaged in were performed in compliance with their state’s duly-enacted medical marijuana laws," noted advocacy group Americans for Safe Access.


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Comment #6 posted by John Tyler on October 27, 2009 at 17:51:52 PT
price and tax
I think the tax should be no more than $2 an ounce quality not withstanding. $10 an ounce would be plenty for good regular cannabis. (I am assuming there would be no bad cannabis.)

[ Post Comment ]
Comment #5 posted by E_Johnson on October 27, 2009 at 17:19:45 PT
Story breaking in Pasadena Weekly

Weekly probe finds African Americans are three times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana offenses

[ Post Comment ]

Comment #4 posted by FoM on October 27, 2009 at 17:01:29 PT
SF Assemblyman To Chair Pot Legalization Hearing
October 27, 2009

Sacramento, CA -- A San Francisco assemblyman will chair a legislative hearing in Sacramento Wednesday on the potential ramifications of legalizing marijuana in California.

The Assembly Committee on Public Safety will hear testimony on the social, economic and legal implications of decriminalizing marijuana and regulating its use in the same way that alcohol is regulated.

That idea has been formally proposed in a bill authored by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, the committee's chair. The committee will consider the bill itself at a separate hearing in January.


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Comment #3 posted by Graehstone on October 27, 2009 at 15:24:36 PT:

Anything over $200 an ounce is robbery as far as I am concerned. And that's for the "good stuff."

[ Post Comment ]
Comment #2 posted by FoM on October 27, 2009 at 14:37:03 PT
News Article From and Bay City News
State Committee Considers Implications Of Pot Legalization


October 27, 2009

Sacramento, CA -- A San Francisco assemblyman will chair a legislative hearing in Sacramento Wednesday on the potential ramifications of legalizing marijuana in California.

The Assembly Committee on Public Safety will hear testimony on the social, economic and legal implications of decriminalizing marijuana and regulating its use in the same way that alcohol is regulated.

That idea has been formally proposed in a bill authored by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, the committee's chair. The committee will consider the bill itself at a separate hearing in January.

Wednesday's hearing is an informational session to review recent developments in the general field of marijuana legalization, Ammiano spokesman Quintin Mecke said.

Mecke cited a report issued by the state Board of Equalization in July that estimated that regulation and taxation of marijuana could bring California $1.4 billion annually in tax revenue.

Ammiano released a statement today calling the hearing a "long overdue discussion of how to best regulate and tax marijuana."

"The reality is clear -- the existing model of prohibition has failed, and across the country, the call for a new direction in our drug policy grows louder every day," Ammiano said.

Any change in California marijuana law would not affect federal laws criminalizing use of the drug, however.

The U.S. Justice Department last week announced a new policy that discourages federal prosecutions of patients and providers who comply with state laws, including in California, that allow medical marijuana use.

But Attorney General Eric Holder said federal prosecutors will continue to go after large-scale drug traffickers.

Copyright: 2009 by and Bay City News


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Comment #1 posted by FoM on October 27, 2009 at 14:01:17 PT
Just a Question
What does anyone think would be a fair market price for a good quality of cannabis? How much tax if any should be paid on an ounce? I mean the retail price not any type of wholesale price. I think most people who grow cannabis would also like to eliminate a middle man and make the profit for themselves. My experience in business is the less hands a product goes thru the lower the price can be to the consumer.

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