Over the 20 years since the passage of Prop. 215, we have witnessed the perils and problems of implementing marijuana legislation. Patient cultivators and distributors arrested, the state legislature allowing local governments to ban distribution and patient cultivation and the overall creation of a hostile environment towards patient access to medical marijuana.
Although the passage of Prop. 64 may have solved the problem of people being arrested for possessing marijuana, it did little to solve the other problems found in Prop. 215. For businesses distributing marijuana or wanting to be involved in distributing marijuana, Prop. 215 and Prop. 64 have created a complex and politically charged infrastructure that will be sorted out by both local and state elected officials.
We must learn from the poor and haphazard implementation of Prop. 215 so that Prop. 64 is fully and properly implemented and that adults will have safe, reliable, local and affordable access to marijuana. The major takeaway is that the political environment for marijuana distributors has been controlled by those opposed to marijuana distribution, such as police and other regulatory agencies, and not by marijuana consumers, cultivators and distributors.
Currently, there are 44 bills in the California state legislature affecting and controlling the use and distribution of marijuana as permitted under both Prop. 215 and Prop. 64. To read about these 44 bills CLICK HERE. It is imperative that marijuana consumers, cultivators and distributors have an effective, respected and officially recognized voice to make their concerns known, addressed and implemented.
Whatever political party you may or may not identify with, the political reality is that the government of the state of California is totally controlled by the California Democratic Party. Every statewide office is held by a Democrat and both the state Senate and state Assembly have a super-majority so that no votes of any other political party are needed to pass any legislation.
As one of only six officially chartered organizations by the California Democratic Party, the Brownie Mary Democrats of California is the only pro-marijuana organization that has this kind of access to the legislators that are creating, amending and passing the laws that will affect marijuana consumers, cultivators, processors and distributors.
During the four years that the Brownie Mary Democrats have been part of the California Democratic Party, they have been responsible for the party adopting planks and resolutions calling on elected Democrats on all levels of government to support marijuana legalization, end enforcement of IRS code 280e preventing marijuana business from deducting expenses on federal taxes, seeking clemency for federal non-violent marijuana offenders in federal prison and for ending the denial of organ transplants to patients that use marijuana to treat their ailments.
Getting the California Democratic Party to support enactment of reasonable regulations and create a political environment in which marijuana businesses are recognized as part of the mainstream business community and accorded the same respect and treatment as other businesses is an accomplishment that the Brownie Mary Democrats is uniquely situated to achieve.
It is now time for the next step and that is to put these accomplishment to use by working with elected Democratic lawmakers towards developing legislation that advances the acceptance and availability of marijuana as well as opposition to legislation that seeks to curtail its distribution and a return to the prohibitionist laws that were repealed with the passage of Prop. 215 and Prop. 64.
As an officially chartered organization by the California Democratic Party, we are ideally situated to provide educational materials and dialogue with our legislators about the accepted and rising status of marijuana in our communities.
Whether it is the pharmaceutical companies, the petroleum industry or giant agricultural conglomerates, businesses spend hundreds of millions of dollars every year supporting organizations that can work with and influence elected officials on issues of importance that affect their ability to do business. A most telling example is the funding by the gun industry and gun owners of local, state and national organizations. In California, the Brownie Mary Democrats is the best organization to represent the interests of marijuana consumers, cultivators, processors and distributors when it comes to convincing Democratic legislators to support bills that will benefit and oppose bills that do not.
One of the very best opportunities to connect with Democratic legislators on the federal, state and local level is at the annual state convention of the California Democratic Party. Over 3,000 elected delegates and another 1,000 elected state, local and party officials are in attendance creating the most advantageous, conducive and favorable environment for interacting with the people who are enacting and implementing the laws and regulations that will affect all strata of marijuana consumers and businesses.
In addition to interacting and providing information to 4,000+ Democrats at the state convention BMD-CA is also introducing a resolution calling on the Democratic Party and all Democratic officeholders to support AB 1578, a legislative bill introduced by Assemblyman Jones-Sawyer that would prevent state and local police or government agencies from cooperating with or providing assistance to any federal agency conducting raids to arrest, prosecute and/or imprison marijuana cultivators and providers.
This will be a tough bill to pass as it is opposed by the California Chiefs of Police Association, the California Sheriff's Association and the League of California Cities. The support of the California Democratic Party will be a major factor in helping Democratic legislators overcome the overbearing pressure of our opponents
To do this we need to have a first-rate and professional presence at the 2017 California Democratic Party convention from May 19 – 21 in Sacramento. Whether it’s $5, $50, $500 or more, I am asking for your financial assistance to give BMD-CA the resources to craft a positive impression and to develop the political influence to produce positive legislative results for marijuana consumers, cultivators, processors and distributors.
If you have the time, BMD-CA would be delighted to have you join them at the Sacramento Convention Center for the CaDEM State Convention. You could help staff their exhibit booth, attend all the meetings of the CaDEM caucuses (Progressive, Women, Native-American and more than a dozen other caucuses) and attend the annual meeting of the BMD-CA on Saturday, May 20 at 6 p.m. at the Old Spaghetti Factory located just 3 blocks from the Sacramento Convention Center.
Each contributor will receive a Certificate of Responsibility suitable for framing and display along with placement on a poster at the exhibit booth listing the names of contributors. Donations of $500 or more entitles you to two official observer passes that lets you and a guest attend the general sessions that are open only to delegates and that have featured speakers of the caliber of V.P. Joe Biden, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren and Gov. Jerry Brown.
YES, I understand the importance of developing an effective political presence with our elected officials and want to support the Brownie Mary Democrats to do so. To make the contribution at our website CLICK HERE.
You can also contribute the old fashion way by sending a check made out to BMD-CA Read below for contribution levels and where to mail your contribution.
Supporter - $5 _________ Activist - $10_________ Devotee ________ $25
Friend - $50 __________ Advocate - $100 _________ Associate - $250 __________
Patron* - $500 _________ Celebrity* - $1,000 _______ Other $__________
Contributions can be made at our website, www.browniemarydemocrats.org/donate or by sending a check made out to BMD-CA to: BMD-CA, PO Box 739, Palm Springs CA 92263.
Thanks for your time and consideration of my request.
Lanny Swerdlow, RN LNC
President & Founder, Brownie Mary Democrats of California
COPS ARE OFFENDED
THAT VOTERS THINK THEY
CAN TELL THEM WHAT TO DO
“It really is quite offensive,” said Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood, president of the California State Sheriffs’ Assn., complaining about lawmakers “wanting to direct law enforcement how they want us to work.”
Really? Cops find it offensive that our elected representatives want to direct how they work? I thought that is what our elected officials were supposed to do – tell law enforcement what to do. If our elected representatives are not supposed to “direct law enforcement” than who is?
Sheriff Youngblood seems to think that police should “direct” themselves which is the very definition of a police state. In fact, thanks to the War on Drugs, we do have a police state and any attempts to put a leash on it is meet with furious opposition by cops who bridle at the thought that lawmakers would even dare to think they could tell “law enforcement how they want us to work.”
What is it that has so drawn the ire of the cops? Its AB 1578, the bill sponsored by Assemblyman Jones Sawyer, three other Assembly member and two State Senators, that will “direct” cops not to cooperate with federal police in the arrest, prosecution and imprisonment of any marijuana consumers, providers or cultivators operating legally under California law.
With their overwhelming vote in favor of Prop. 64, the voters of California have made it very clear that they do not agree with the Controlled Substances Act and don’t want their tax dollars used to enforce it. They expect elected officials and government agencies to carry out their “directive” and that includes cops.
The people of California have voted to legalize marijuana and end marijuana prohibition. It is the duty of cops paid by the taxpayers of California to do what the voters tell them to do and not what they want to do even if they really really really want to do it.
If Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood, president of the California State Sheriffs’ Assn, is “offended” by the voters of California and their elected representatives “directing” them on what to enforce and what not to enforce then he should quit his job and go to work for North Korea’s Kim Jong-un. And so should all the members of the California State Sheriff’s Association and every other cop that finds it “offensive” that voters and elected officials might want “to direct law enforcement how they want us to work.”
Local police are chomping at the bit to join the federal police they expect to be coming to California to turn back the tide of marijuana legalization at the behest of the Trump administration whose law and order rhetoric to unleash law enforcement from any kind of civil restraint is payback to all the police organizations that supported his candidacy.
Maybe the cops know something we don’t. Some marijuana activists don’t think much will come from the Trump administration to overturn the legalization laws now in force in eight states and the District of Columbia.
"I don't think there's any more reason to be scared than to be hopeful at this point," said Mason Tvert, Denver-based communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project. "The administration has not changed its marijuana policy, and there is reason to believe it may maintain the existing policy or adopt a similar one that respects states' laws regulating marijuana."
"Marijuana is one of the least of my concerns with the Trump administration," said Dale Gieringer, Executive Director of CaNORML. "That's the first time I've been able to say that, but I just don’t see where there's any percentage in them going after marijuana. The polls are on our side, and they can't enforce the law."
Others however, are not so sanguine.
"As far as the industry goes, even the threat of a crackdown by the Justice Department has a chilling effect," said Justin Strekal, NORML political director and lobbyist. "The Cole memo is just a piece of paper and there is nothing stopping Sessions from just throwing it away, as the Heritage Foundation has called for him to do.” “The worst case would be that the adult use states are rolled back to a situation where there is no way to have a legal distribution system, but local law enforcement is not going to be enforcing federal marijuana prohibition."
I sure hope that Strekal is right and that “local law enforcement is not going to be enforcing federal marijuana prohibition," but I would advise against holding your breath on that one. The California Sheriff’s Association and the California Chiefs of Police Association along with their sycophants at the California League of Cities are using the combined weight of three 800 pound gorillas to see that they can, at the very least, help federal cops enforce federal law.
AB 1578 causes cops to seethe with fury that they would not be able to suit up in their swat team tactical force uniforms, bring out all their drug war military weaponry and bust down the doors of legal businesses, farms and homes to break the back of the upstart marijuana legalization movement that threatens their $50 billion a year taxpayer funded War on Drugs pig trough.
If cops fear AB1578 that much, it tells us that this bill will be very effective if it becomes law. It is to our advantage to do everything we can to aid its passage and eventual signing by Gov. Brown.
AB 1578 will be the focus of all three MAPP meetings the first week of April. Our focus must be to educate voters about AB 1578 and to contact our local and state elected officials and let them know we expect them to uphold and protect the will of California voters when they passed Prop. 64. How we can effectively do that, how we can obtain the support of other organizations and more will make these meetings extremely important for everyone to attend.
Most importantly, we must not allow cops to think that they are not beholden to the voters and elected officials of California and that they better get over finding it “offensive” that the taxpayers who pay their salaries should be calling the shots.
If you are in the Inland Empire, here are the dates and locations of all three MAPP meetings. If you are not in the Inland Empire, then get your local marijuana organizations to join together with other marijuana and drug law reform organizations to make sure AB 1578 becomes law.
Palm Springs/Coachella Valley meeting – Saturday, April 1 at 12 noon at Crystal Fantasy, 268 N. Palm Canyon Dr., downtown Palm Springs 92262.
Joshua Tree/Morongo Valley meeting – Saturday, April 1 at 3 p.m. at the - Beatnik Lounge, 61597 Twenty-Nine Palms Hwy., Joshua Tree 92252
Riverside/San Bernardino/Western IE meeting - Wednesday, April 5 at 7:30 p.m. - Greenview Medical, 22275 Alessandro Blvd, Moreno Valley, CA 92553
Implementing and defending Prop. 64 from cops, politicians and Donald Trump -
Why the DPA is Sticking Around This Time
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Marijuana Works Where
the 18th Amendment Failed
Beer Sales Drop as
MJ Sales Go Up
Health Advocates Predicted This - Here's Why
Using marijuana to mitigate the side-effects of withdrawal from alcohol, cocaine, methamphetamines and other drugs is part of humanity’s historical usage of folk medicines, but the first printed recognition of marijuana’s use to treat alcoholism and drug addiction was published over a century ago in 1902 by Thomas Davison Crothers in his treatise Morphinism and Narcomanias.
Commenting on the book, famed medical cannabis researcher Dr. Ethan Russo noted, that Narcomania “described all of the addictive substances, from cocaine to caffeine, morphine to nicotine. The only context in which cannabis was mentioned was as a treatment for addiction to other drugs."
In 2003 medical marijuana pioneer Dr. Todd Mikiyuria published a study in the medical marijuana journal O'Shaughnessy's documenting ninety-two Northern Californians who obtained a medical marijuana recommendation principally to use cannabis to treat their alcoholism. Dr. Mikiyuria reported that “All patients reported benefit, indicating that for at least a subset of alcoholics, cannabis use is associated with reduced drinking.”
Since 1995 when I first became actively involved in proselytizing for medical marijuana and ending marijuana prohibition, I was astounded by the number of people I met who had used marijuana to cure their alcoholism. In almost every case, marijuana wasn’t something they used to get off alcohol and then stopped using, but continued to use marijuana for what were essentially the same reasons they used alcohol but without any of alcohol’s deleterious side effects while at the same time being able to lead a normal, productive and healthy life.
I approached more than a dozen drug and alcohol counselors with the novel idea that they should be encouraging their clients to use marijuana as a substitute for alcohol and to continue its use after their addiction had been overcome. Most times I was politely told that my idea was impractical, illegal and would be just substituting one debilitating drug for another. Sometimes I was told that in terms that were not quite so polite.
I have always maintained and have been publicly speaking and writing for years that as a nurse I always considered the most important medical use of cannabis was as an alcohol substitute. Yes it is most excellent for insomnia, cancer, depression, pain and on and on and on, but when I was working as a RN, I don't think I ever had a single shift where at least one of the patients I was taking care of was in that hospital bed, if not totally at least partially, due to their use of alcohol.
I became a vocal advocate for the use of marijuana not just to treat addictions, but as a substitute for alcohol in all its traditional socially acceptable forms whether that be at a wedding or other celebration, communally enjoying with friends and family or as a safe and effective means of altering one’s consciousness.
I was certainly not the only voice in the woods espousing this idea, but even in marijuana and drug law reform groups, this idea was rejected and not promulgated preferring to publicly espouse the relatively benign nature of marijuana rather than what many of us considered the real reason the recreational adult-use of marijuana needed to be legalized.
The meme that if marijuana was easily and widely available that alcohol sales would decrease has been floating around for some time, but little research had been done to confirm it. The earliest research that I am aware of occurred with the publication of Medical Marijuana Laws, Traffic Fatalities and Alcohol Consumption in November 2011 by Mark Anderson and Daniel Reese.
Studying the effects of medical marijuana legalization in Montana, the authors found that among 18- through 25-year-olds marijuana used had increased by an average mean of 19% from the pre-legalization average mean. The authors then found that “The legalization of medical marijuana is associated with a 5.3 percent reduction in beer sales, the most popular beverage among 18-through 29-year-olds during the period under study.”
That this reduction in alcohol use and increase in marijuana use was of significant benefit was their finding “that traffic fatalities fall by nearly 9 percent after the legalization of medical marijuana.” Based on multiple factors, the authors concluded that “The negative relationship between legalization of medical marijuana and traffic fatalities involving alcohol is consistent with the hypothesis that marijuana and alcohol are substitutes.”
That marijuana is a substitute for alcohol is borne out by new studies released last December by Cowen and Company. Founded in 1918, this respected financial advisory and asset management firm provides research for a broad swath of industries from chemicals to technology and has conducted and released research reports for the alcoholic beverage and tobacco industries.
Managing Director and Senior Research Analyst, Vivien Azer reported that in the past two years, beer markets in three states that have legalized the adult-use of marijuana, Colorado, Oregon and Washington, have “collectively underperformed,” and “the magnitude of the underperformance has increased notably.” She reported that the beer sales in these states have fallen by more than two percent in 2016 when compared to the rest of the country.
Explaining why and how this decrease came about, Azer said “While [marijuana] retail sales opened up in these markets at different points of time, with all three of these states now having fully implemented a retail infrastructure, the underperformance of beer in these markets has worsened over the course of 2016.”
Azer went on to elucidate, “This is perhaps not surprising, given that U.S. government data for the states of Colorado, Oregon and Washington all show consistent growth in cannabis incidence among 18-25 year olds coupled with declines in alcohol incidence (in terms of past month use).”
These declines were evident in reports showing sales of premium brews like Coors Light and Bud Light dropping by 4.4%, while standard versions of beers like Budweiser and Coors dipped by 2.4%. Denver, arguably one of the most marijuana friendly cities’ in the nation with its decision in 2016 to allow venues with on-site marijuana consumption, has experienced a 6.4% decline in total beer consumption.
Surprised? Well beer company executives weren’t as they have known for a long time that marijuana availability is not good for their bottom line. It wasn’t because of their concern of increased traffic fatalities or an increase in teen use, they knew that was nonsense. It was their fear of plummeting sales that triggered the California Beer and Beverage Distributors in 2010 to become one of the biggest contributors to the anti-Prop. 19 campaign.
The same held true in 2016 with alcohol producers and distributors providing funds to most of the opposition campaigns in the four states with marijuana legalization initiatives up for a vote. Although legalized marijuana is a threat to big pharma, it is even more of a threat to big beer.
Tobacco company executives were well aware of the dangers of tobacco use, but suppressed the information and lied to the American public about the dangers of tobacco smoke. Equally culpable are the beer distributors and manufacturers as they too are well aware of the dangers to health of the consumers of their product and the dangers to the community from the actions of the consumers of their products.
Those dangers have never been a concern to them which explains their continued opposition, both with their actions and money, to the legalization of marijuana that will reduce the horrors caused by alcohol consumption while providing for the safe, reliable, local and affordable distribution of marijuana across a vast consortium of businesses both big and small.
Tobacco company executives made billions selling their lethal product and were never jailed for lying to the America people about the dangers of tobacco thereby facilitating the death of over 400,000 Americans every year for the last half-century. The Wall Street and big banking tycoons made billions at the expense of tens of millions of Americans robbing them of their homes, pensions and life savings and, other than some slap on the wrist fines, not one of them went to jail.
It’s long past the time that we stop letting corporate crooks and criminals get away with robbing and killing us. The moguls of the alcohol industries who have made billions destroying our health, breaking up our families and terrorizing our communities, while killing off 80,000 people a year, would be a good place to start.
Implementing and defending Prop. 64 from cops, politicians and Donald Trump
Why the DPA is Sticking Around This Time
Hear it now CLICK HERE
There is so much to do to protect
our rights to access marijuana and
we could use a little help from our friends.
Become a friend and hang out at our 420 Club
CLICK HERE TO JOIN
CLICK HERE TO MAKE A ONE-TIME DONATION
THE FEDS ARE COMING!
THE FEDS ARE COMING!
Can they be stopped?
That's the $64,000 question
Jeff Sessions may be hiding out after lying to congress about meeting with Russians during the Presidential campaign, but he is not lying low when it comes to marijuana. He is taking the DOJ MJ prohibition axe out of mothballs and is determined to bring it down on the head of marijuana consumers and providers.
On March 9 on an interview on conservative talk show host Hugh Hewitt’s radio program, he made it very clear that he intends to use all the resources at his disposal to take down the states that have legalized the use of marijuana.
HH: Let’s talk about the rule of law. I have a piece coming out in the Washington Post about this on Sunday, Attorney General Sessions. One RICO prosecution against one marijuana retailer in one state that has so-called legalization ends this façade and this flaunting of the Supremacy Clause. Will you be bringing such a case?
JS: We will, marijuana is against federal law, and that applies in states where they may have repealed their own anti-marijuana laws. So yes, we will enforce law in an appropriate way nationwide. It’s not possible for the federal government, of course, to take over everything the local police used to do in a state that’s legalized it. And I’m not in favor of legalization of marijuana. I think it’s a more dangerous drug than a lot of people realize. I don’t think we’re going to be a better community if marijuana is sold in every corner grocery store.
HH: No, but it would literally take one racketeering influence corrupt organization (RICO) prosecution to take all the money from one retailer, and the message would be sent. I mean, if you want to send that message, you can send it. Do you think you’re going to send it?
JS: Well, we’ll be evaluating how we want to handle that. I think it’s a little more complicated than one RICO case, I’ve got to tell you. This, places like Colorado, it’s just sprung up a lot of different independent entities that are moving marijuana. And it’s also being moved interstate, not just in the home state.
JS: And neighbors are complaining, and filed lawsuits against them. So it’s a serious matter, in my opinion.
Sessions then went on to conflate the problems of opioid addiction with marijuana.
JS: And I just came from a big rally in New Hampshire yesterday, Hugh. This is, this opioid problem is just huge. There were 9,000 high school and junior high school students there. A mother I met who had lost a son three months before, a child, and she said there were 50 more mothers there who’d lost children speaking to those kids. We’ve had this huge opioid surge in America, 120 people a day die from drug overdose. And I do believe, and the President has issued an order to the Department of Justice to crack down on drugs and these international cartels that are moving this Fentanyl that’s so deadly into our country. And we’re going to step up that in a very vigorous way as I talk to United States Attorneys yesterday by conference call.
Of course he ignores and Hugh Hewitt didn’t embarrass him with the fact that states in which marijuana is legal have a 25% lower opioid mortality overdose rate than states which don’t have legal marijuana because so many patients are using marijuana instead of opioids to treat their pain.
Although his willful ignorance and/or disregard of science is troubling, what is especially distressing is the threat to use RICO laws to go after states that have allowed the use of marijuana. Passed in 1970, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) is a federal law designed to combat organized crime in the United States. It allows prosecution and civil penalties for racketeering activity performed as part of an ongoing criminal enterprise.
RICO has succeeded in blurring the lines between state and federal law enforcement and in overturning the protections of the due process clauses found in the Fifth and Fourteenth amendments to the United States Constitution. Due process deals with the administration of justice and thus the due process clause acts as a safeguard from arbitrary denial of life, liberty, or property by the Government.
The federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act “RICO” was part of President Richard Nixon’s 1970 omnibus crime bill and was designed to combat the Mafia. While that is how the law was supposed to work, federal prosecutors have used it to create criminal and civil penalties for members of any organization that engage in so-called patterns of criminal activity.
To successfully prosecute for RICO it must be shown that members of a criminal enterprise engaged in a pattern of racketeering that had an effect on interstate commerce. Here is a simple explanation of what this means:
- Criminal Enterprise – Any organization that works together over time and has an organizational structure with one or more persons making decisions for the organization. The enterprise can have either an illegal or a legal purpose.
- Pattern of Racketeering – The members of the organization must have engaged in ongoing illegal activity.
- Effect on Interstate Commerce – This merely refers to anything that has any effect on commerce when that effect is not entirely limited to one state. Any economic activity of any substance normally meets the criteria.
Due to marijuana being an illegal schedule one drug, a marijuana dispensary, whether medical or adult-use, would definitely qualify for prosecution under the RICO laws which make obtaining a conviction relatively easy for federal prosecutors.
California and the seven other states that legalized marijuana better prepare for a federal assault with Sessions using every means at his disposal including RICO laws to slay the evil dragon of marijuana legalization.
Mark Kleiman, professor of Public Policy at New York University and Washington State’s top marijuana consultant after voters legalized marijuana in 2012, concurs stating that the Trump administration “could shut down the legal cannabis industry everywhere in the country with the stroke of a pen.”
Kevin Sabet, professional drug warrior and president of the anti-mj legalization group Smart Approaches to Marijuana, agrees with Prof. Kleiman stating “Let’s just say that if I had marijuana stocks right now, I’d be shorting them. This is a man (Sessions) who we know is staunchly anti-legalization. There’s no way around that. Things are about to get interesting.”
Those anti-64 folk who might be celebrating a crackdown on adult-use marijuana should note that in the Hugh Hewitt interview, Sessions made no distinction between adult-use marijuana and medical marijuana. For the moment Prop. 64 is the wall between the feds and medical marijuana, but it would be no surprise if after successfully gutting adult-use marijuana laws that Sessions sets his sights on medical marijuana as payback to his pals at the giant pharmaceutical companies which funneled over $4.4 million to Republicans in 2016.
As Sessions noted in the Hugh Hewitt interview, “it’s not possible for the federal government, of course, to take over everything the local police used to do in a state that’s legalized it.” Federal law enforcement has always counted heavily on local police in any of their raids on patients and dispensaries.
Exactly how to respond to those threats is vexing. California's new attorney general Xavier Becerra told the LA Times he agreed with voters who passed Prop. 64 and that “It was wise for us to regulate versus criminalize marijuana, but we do face some challenges.” However he did not elaborate on what those challenges were or offer any clues on how his office would meet those challenges.
That is why AB 1578, sponsored by Assemblyman Jones-Sawyer (D-LA) is so important. At the moment it is really the only show in town as it will prevent police on the state and local level from assisting the DEA and other federal police agencies from providing any kind of support when raids are conducted against marijuana cultivators and providers.
In a conversation I had with a legislative aide to Assemblyman Jones-Sawyer, I was informed that the League of California Cities and the California Chiefs of Police Association have already expressed displeasure with AB 1578 and organizing and lobbying to derail it.
This is serious opposition as these are the same two organizations that successfully led the attack on Prop. 215 that essentially gutted its provisions that required the state to “implement a plan to provide for the safe and affordable distribution of marijuana to all patients in medical need of marijuana.”
As might be expected, the marijuana community is wringing their hands over the issue, but there is really no coordinated work being done to confront the oncoming onslaught. It seems most ganja entrepreneurs are too busy counting all the money they are making off of patients to part with any significant amount to any organization that has the ability to actually do something to thwart the oncoming federal assault.
Since 7 of the 8 states that have legalized marijuana went for Hilary Clinton (California delivered the overwhelming number of votes that gave Clinton the popular vote irritating the notoriously thin-skinned Trump), it is doubtful that these states will have any influence on the federal level.
Make no misstake – what the feds are about to do is not an economic issue, it is not a social issue – it is a political issue. It is getting our elected state legislators to support AB 1578 right now.
With the opposition of the League of California Cities and the California Chiefs of Police Association, getting AB 1578 approved is going to be an uphill battle, but it is battle that can be won with the support of marijuana consumers, cultivators and providers.
With Democrats holding a super-majority in the California legislature, the ability to contact these legislators for support is facilitated through the Brownie Mary Democrats of California. As one of only six officially chartered organizations by the California Democratic Party, it is in a unique position to contact and connect with Democratic legislators throughout the state. I have been working with Assemblyman Jones-Sawyer’s office to implement a strategy to get AB 1578 approved.
“All politics is local” is a common phrase in U.S. politics and when it comes to developing support with our state legislators that is where our actions must start – on the local level. If we succeed on the local level, we will succeed on the state level and if we succeed on the state level, there is fighting chance that we will stop Sessions in his crusade against marijuana.
In my next newsletter I will lay out the plans on how we can accomplish this on the local level, but understand we can only succeed if and when marijuana consumers, cultivators and distributors unite and get involved in their local communities. If you sit on the sidelines and do not get involved with your time and financial support, then the prophetic words of Professor Kleinman that the Trump administration “could shut down the legal cannabis industry everywhere in the country with the stroke of a pen” will surely come true.
Please support us in our efforts to protect our new hard-won rights by joining our 420 Club and donating $4.20/month (that' just 14¢/day) - Become an enabler and enable us to continue doing what we do!
Hold on to your seats – we are in for one hell-of-a roller coaster ride. From court challenges to the defacto bans on the local level to enacting the rules and regulations that will make the sale of marijuana legal on the state level to legislation to make California a ganja sanctuary state, the action is hot, challenging, exciting and simply amazing.
Whoever would have ever thought just a few years ago, that marijuana law reform would become part of the national controversies that are sweeping the nation? Well it is happening and we are so fortunate to live at a time where you and I can be part of it.
Together we are a critical and integral part of for once and for ever making marijuana accessible locally, reliably, safely and affordably just like it was when our grandparents and great-grandparents could saunter on down to the corner pharmacy and buy all the cannabis they wanted OVER-THE-COUNTER.
There are forces out there that wield considerable power and agree with Harry Anslinger that the “primary reason to outlaw marijuana is its effect on the degenerate races,” so if you want the day to come when you can just saunter on down to the store again and buy good quality cannabis at reasonable prices, now is the time to get involved again or if you have never been at the frontlines – time to step up.
Whether you chose to or even have the time to participate in any of the actions listed below, it is truly amazing to read about all that is happening. These are truly remarkable, albeit somewhat unsettling times. OK - here's some ACTIONS you can undertake – some while you are sitting on your couch smoking or not smoking pot and others that you are going to have to get off the couch, out of the house and meet, carouse and work with good people just like yourself.
ACTION 1 – if you are in the area, come to the MAPP meetings in Moreno Valley, Palm Springs and Joshua Tree this week and join with other concerned citizens to learn what is happening and how, when and where to take action. For information for topics to be covered and guest speakers CLICK HERE.
ACTION 2 – Write your legislator asking him or her to support AB 1578 and make California a GANJA SANCTUARY STATE. It’s easy to do, just CLICK HERE.
ACTION 3 – There are a litany of Congressional Caucuses, from the Congressional Coal Caucus to the Congressional Caucus for Women's Issues to the Congressional Second Amendment Caucus. Just formed last week is a Congressional Cannabis Caucus – YES THERE ACTUALLY IS SUCH A CREATURE and it’s more than just a bunch of legislators in the backroom smoking joints instead of cigars. To learn more about the CCC and to get your congressional representative to join the two esteemed Democrats and two esteemed Republicans that formed it CLICK HERE.
ACTION 4 – Use to be our legislators wouldn’t even talk about marijuana – now they won’t shut up about it. An astounding 44 bills have been introduced into the California state legislature regulating everything from taxes to advertising to distribution. Mark Twain wrote “No man's life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislature is in session” – so to find out how your life, liberty and cannabis will be affected by your elected state legislators, CLICK HERE.
ACTION 5 – HJR 42 was passed two weeks ago rescinding President Obama’s executive order banning the drug testing of most unemployment insurance applicants. This pee-in-a-cup restoration legislation was almost a totally party line vote. To learn more about it, to see who wants to provide tens of millions of tax dollars to pee-testing companies and how you can send a message with a Colbert tip-of-the-hat for those who opposed repealing the ban and a-wag-of-the-finger to those who supported its repeal CLICK HERE.
ACTION 6 – Help MAPP continue to educate and activate on all of the above and more by joining our 420 Club and generously donating $4.20/month (14¢/day). To become an exceptional member of this elite club CLICK HERE. If you are not quite prepared to join, you can make a one-time only donation if you CLICK HERE.
ACTION 7- Do as many of actions 1 – 6 as you can.
Like the click click click sound of a roller coaster going up the first steep incline of one of Magic Mountain’s death defying rides, the sound of your mouse clicking on the ACTION links above will take you on the ride of your life as you plunge through the twists and turns and loops of what could be one of the most thrilling and significant journeys of your life.
From the desk of Lanny Swerdlow, RN LNC
Will California Become A Ganja Sanctuary State?
Dems & Repubs Split on MJ/Drug Law Reform
Trump Renews War on Drugs
Will the Trump administration go after recreational marijuana but not medical marijuana? That possibility seems possible after President Trump’s press secretary, Sean Spicer, stated in a press conference that President Trump sees “a big difference” between the use of marijuana for medical purposes and for recreational purposes. Equating the dangers of marijuana to opioids, he concluded by stating that this “is something the Department of Justice, I think, will be further looking into.”
Whether the Trump administration will look favorably on medical marijuana by allowing states to go their own way with the legalization of medical marijuana or have cannabis moved to Schedule 2 on the Controlled Substances Act chart which would allow doctors to prescribe marijuana and pharmaceutical companies to produce and distribute it to pharmacies remains to be seen, but this contentious issue is becoming even more polarizing then god, gays and guns.
A vote was taken in the U.S. Congress on February 15 to repeal the Obama administration’s ban on drug testing of most unemployment insurance applicants. If there ever was a partisan vote on an issue this had got to be the granddaddy of them all with 232 Republicans voting to repeal the ban and only one Republican voting to retain it and 188 Democrats voting to maintain the ban and only 4 Democrats voting to repeal it.
Drug testing has always been about testing for marijuana. An unemployment applicant knowing that he or she will be drug screened can refrain from using meth or crack or heroin for a couple days and pass as these drugs are out of the body after two to three days. Not so for marijuana users as marijuana can remain in the body for up to a month or more.
The vote on reversing the drug testing ban is not the first time that a vote on a marijuana/drug law reform issue has been so lopsided with Republicans opposing reform and Democrats supporting reform. It most certainly will not be the last.
With the expected upcoming vote in April on whether to renew the Rohrabacher/Farr amendment preventing the Dept. of Justice from spending money to enforce federal marijuana prohibition law in states that have state regulated medical marijuana distribution systems, this vote to repeal the ban on drug testing may be a harbinger that the small number of Republicans that voted with the overwhelming number of Democrats in support of the DOJ defunding amendment, may now vote in opposition.
The failure of the Rohrabacher/Farr amendment would free U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to undertake a massive federal pogrom against states which have enacted medical and adult-use marijuana initiatives and legislation.
As I have written earlier reclassifying marijuana to a schedule 2 drug would allow Trump to say he is supportive of medical marijuana and allow police to continue to receive billions to arrest, prosecute and imprison marijuana users as the penalties for the illegal use and manufacture of schedule 2 drugs are as harsh as schedule 1 drugs. Right now in many states the penalties for marijuana use have been reduced to infractions, but as a schedule 2 drug the penalties for marijuana use without a doctor’s written prescription that is filled at a licensed pharmacy could very easily be re-legislated to be on a par with the illegal use of other schedule 2 drugs.
And don’t think for one minute that Trump is not cognizant that police will be pushing legislators to do that – its putting the money that marijuana legalization took out of their pockets back in.
To bolster my concern that Trump will not let states go their own way with marijuana, but rather take a harsher and more regressive position is his oft-repeated “law and order” campaign statements and apparent decision to double-down on the War on Drugs. At a recent address he made to the law enforcement professionals of the Major Cities Chiefs Association, he stated "We're going to stop the drugs from pouring in . . . We're going to stop those drugs from poisoning our youth, from poisoning our people. We're going to be ruthless in that fight.”
Trump went on to castigate the Obama administration for releasing "record numbers of drug traffickers, many of them kingpins." Far from being drug kingpins, most of the 1,700 drug war prisoners whose sentences were commuted by President Obama had already served sentences longer than they would have under current, revised sentencing guidelines.
To back up his rhetoric of being “ruthless” to the Chiefs Association, at the Oval Office swearing in of Attorney General Jeff Session, Trump issued three executive orders he said were "designed to restore safety in America," but really signal an escalation of the War on Drugs with increased funding for police and law enforcement agencies across the country.
What we cannot do is sit on our butts and smoke pot and wait to see what the Trump administration is going to do whether it concerns medical or adult-use marijuana. At the last meeting of MAPP in Moreno Valley, Cat Packer, California Policy Coordinator for the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), alerted us to a bill that was going to be introduced in the legislature that would direct law enforcement and government agencies at both the local and state level to refuse to cooperate with federal agencies in the enforcement of federal marijuana prohibition laws.
Cat knew of what she spoke as AB 1578 was submitted last week to the state assembly. Authored by Assemblyman Jones-Sawyer (D-LA) and co-authored by three other state assembly members and two state senators, the bill would “prohibit a state or local agency from taking certain actions without a court order signed by a judge, including using agency money, facilities, property, equipment, or personnel to assist a federal agency to investigate, detain, detect, report, or arrest a person for commercial or noncommercial marijuana or medical cannabis activity that is authorized by law in the State of California and transferring an individual to federal law enforcement authorities for purposes of marijuana enforcement.”
To read the full text of AB 1578 CLICK HERE.
Federal police agencies, especially narcotic agencies like the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), almost always rely heavily on local law enforcement to provide the bulk of the enforcement personnel used in their raids. Usually there are two to four DEA agents accompanied by a phalanx of a dozen or more local police when making a bust.
If local police are not allowed to assist them, the ability of the DEA to make arrests will be significantly impacted as even Sessions noted in his confirmation hearings that enforcement of federal marijuana prohibition law “is a problem of resources for the federal government.”
Of course we don’t know for sure what the Trump Administration is planning, but as I wrote in a previous email “we should hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.” At all three MAPP meetings in March we will be doing just that with discussions of AB 1578 and how we as patients and consumers of marijuana can take actions to insure the continuation of using medical and adult-use of marijuana free of federal interference.
At the meeting there will be an analysis of AB 1578 and discussion of what its provisions portend. This will not just be armchair posturing, but we will also be providing information on actions that can be taken individually and as a group. You are not powerless, but information and education is key to developing the power within you.
At the Moreno Valley/Western IE MAPP meeting, we will also have a presentation by long-time advocate Michael Harris who has become the lead plaintiff in DPA’s lawsuit against the defacto bans cities and counties have enacted to undercut the indoor cultivation of marijuana permitted by Prop. 64. This lawsuit is going to be critical in establishing the rights of people to grow indoors with regulations that are reasonable and not so onerous as to make it all but impossible for most people to grow their own.
Like the lawsuit where the city of Riverside sued the Inland Empire Patients Health & Wellness Center for violating its zoning ordinances by distributing marijuana to its members, this lawsuit on defacto bans will be precedent setting as it most assuredly will eventually be decided by the California Supreme Court. Let’s hope that outcome is favorable to us this time.
Keep smoking, vaporizing and/or eating marijuana, but get off that couch and attend one of the MAPP meetings near you. What happens over the next six months will affect your access to marijuana for years to come.
Mark your calendar to attend any of these MAPP meetings.
Moreno Valley/Western IE MAPP meeting - Wed. March 1 at 7:30 p.m. - Greenview Medical Clinic, 22275 Alessandro Blvd, Moreno Valley, CA 92553.
Palm Springs/Coachella Valley MAPP meeting – Saturday, March 4 at 12 noon at Crystal Fantasy, 268 N. Palm Canyon Dr., downtown Palm Springs 92262.
Joshua Tree/Morongo Valley meeting – Saturday, March 4 at 3 p.m. at the Beatnik Lounge, 61597 Twenty-Nine Palms Hwy., Joshua Tree 92252.
See you there.
There is so much to do to protect
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From the desk of Lanny Swerdlow RN
Do You Still Need a Doctor’s Recommendation?
Free MMJ ID Card Provokes County Consternation
With the passage of Prop. 64 and the legalization of marijuana for adults 21 and over, many patients are wondering if they should bother to renew their recs when they expire in 2017 and for those who have never gotten one, if there is any reason still to do so.
If you never possess more than an ounce and if you can either grow enough on your own or have friends who will provide it to you, the answer may very well be you don’t need one, but for the majority of marijuana consumers, a medical marijuana recommendation provides some very real world benefits.
If you purchase marijuana as most people do, there will not be any legal adult-use dispensaries until Jan. 1, 2018 so the only legal marijuana dispensaries still available in 2017 are the ones that provide only to medical marijuana patients. There are some dispensaries that are jumping the gun and have started selling to anyone over 21, but they are taking a calculated risk in order to make some extra money as even with the passage of Prop. 64 the sale of marijuana to non-medical patients remains a serious offense.
Not as serious as before the passage of Prop. 64 when the sale to people who were not medical marijuana patients was a felony with up to 3 years in jail imposed upon conviction. Under Prop. 64 sales without a license is now a misdemeanor with fines up to $500 and six months in jail. Note it is not illegal to sell marijuana to adults 21 and over – just like alcohol it is illegal to sell marijuana without a license, but licenses will not be available until Jan. 1, 2018.
Granted a misdemeanor is significantly less onerous than a felony, but six months in jail is still six months of lost freedom as well as a criminal record. Further a third conviction for sales without a license is a “wobbler” meaning the District Attorney can charge it ether as a misdemeanor or felony meaning you could get up to three years. Even more threatening is if you sell to a minor – no change in the law there and it remains a felony under Prop. 64 with prison terms up to seven years. It is legal to sell to minors if they are a medical marijuana patient.
With the advent of sales to all adults commencing Jan. 1, 2018, purchasing marijuana may no longer be a reason to obtain a doctor’s recommendation, but there are still significant advantages in having that recommendation.
Number one would be the ability to grow significantly more than 6 plants which is the maximum a person can grow under Prop. 64. Even worse, Prop. 64 limits the number of plants that can be grown in a single family residence to a total of six even if four adults live there.
A medical marijuana patient may grow as much marijuana as medically necessary, a somewhat loosey-goosey number leaving much up to the discretion of the police officer inspecting a grow and his expertise in deciding if the number of plants under cultivation is a reasonable number for a patient’s needs.
The police officer’s discretion notwithstanding, the bottom line is if you want to grow more than six plants, you will continue to need a doctor’s recommendation.
Prop. 215 does not allow for an arbitrary restriction on the number of plants a patient can grow. However the Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MCRSA) which implements Prop. 215 allows local government to ban any cultivation whether it is indoor or outdoor. So although you have the right to cultivate and possess as much marijuana as medically necessary, your local government can take your right to cultivate away by banning any mmj cultivation under their zoning laws.
Although indoor cultivation bans were overturned by Prop. 64 and local governments can no longer ban indoor cultivation, this does not give patients the right to grow as much marijuana as medically necessary indoors. If your local government bans all mmj cultivation, patients are restricted to just six plants because their right to grow indoors comes from Prop. 64 and not from Prop. 215 which, although allowing the cultivation of as many plants as medically necessary also allows cities and counties to ban all cultivation.
In other words all medical marijuana cultivation can be banned under MCRSA. Prop. 64 does not allow cities and counties to ban indoor cultivation, but you are limited to six plants per person and six plants per residence even if you are a medical marijuana patient if your local government has banned all medical marijuana cultivation.
If you think this is a crock – well it is – but making marijuana more rationally accessible isn’t going to happen by waving a magic wand. It should be no surprise that although we continue to get laws passed that enhance our rights to access marijuana, we keep getting screwed on the local level - doctor’s recommendation or not. It’s going to take and activism and involvement by folks like you who are reading this newsletter – if we continue to passively stay home and hope that others will carry the day, we will continue to get the short end of the stick.
A doctor’s recommendation provides more than just enhanced access to marijuana and cultivating more than six plants - there are number of other very significant benefits to having a doctor’s recommendation.
Under Prop 64, you are restricted to no more than one ounce if you leave your home. With a doctor’s recommendation you can leave with up to 8 ounces. The same is true for concentrates as with Prop. 64 you are limited to 8 grams whereas under Prop. 215 with a doctor’s recommendation you can have as much as medically necessary. Whether that means you can walk out of your house with a half-pound of wax under your arm is problematic at best. Unless you can prove that you need a half-pound of wax for your own personal medical use, carrying a half-pound of wax around is not advised.
Another advantage is the sales tax exemption afforded to medical marijuana patients under Prop. 64. If you obtain the state mmj ID card through your county health department, you will not have to pay sales taxes when you purchase marijuana at a local dispensary. With sales taxes running from 8.5% to 10%, this can result in significant savings. However, you will need to obtain the state ID card which, under Prop. 64, has been reduced to $100 and for MediCal patients has been reduced to $50.
If you purchased the card for $100, you need to spend around $100 a month on marijuana to save enough in sales taxes to break even - $50 a month for a card that costs $50.
Under Prop. 64, indigent medical marijuana patients can get their mmj id card for free if they are enrolled in a County’s Medical Services Program. If you are not aware of these programs, all counties have Medical Services Programs that provide medical services to indigent persons that do not qualify for MediCal.
No one should be without health care services and the County Medical Services Programs are a California program designed to catch some of those people who are falling through the cracks. If you know of someone in that category or if you yourself are in that category, call your local county health department and learn if you or they can qualify.
To find out how Prop. 64’s mandate to provide free ID cards to indigent patients is being implemented in the Inland Empire I called both Riverside and San Bernardino Counties medical marijuana id card programs. I was stunned to discover that both counties were unaware of the mandate to provide a free card.
I spoke with Carol Lieber of the Riverside Co. mmj ID program and after a couple days of conferring with program administrators she was able to report that the County will now be giving out free mmj ID cards to indigent patients who are enrolled in Riverside County’s Medical Services Program. They need only request it when making their application for a mmj id card.
Not surprisingly San Bernardino County is proving a bit more problematic. I have been in touch with Lana Cao, public information officer for SB Co. Public Health. She is not aware of the County providing a free ID card at this time and has been diligently trying to contact the “necessary individuals” to provide an answer to whether the County is working to comply with Prop. 64’s mandate to issue free ID cards to indigent patients. I was hoping to receive positive news to publish in this newsletter, but I just couldn't wait around like forever.
As recalcitrant as SB Co. is whenever it comes to anything to do with marijuana, Ms. Cao seems fairly confident that they will get with the program sooner rather than later. In the meantime, indigent patients are not able to receive a free mmj ID card in SB County. I remain in contact with Ms. Cao and hopefully will be able to report in the next newsletter that eligible SB Co. residents will be able to have the fees waived for a mmj ID card.
I was a bit taken aback that neither Riverside nor San Bernardino Counties was cognizant of the Prop. 64 requirement to provide free mmj id cards to medically indigent residents and so I contacted a few other counties to see if they were meeting the mandate. Some like Imperial County had no idea that they were supposed to do that and others like San Diego County were fully aware of the mandate and have initiated procedures so that their residents who are qualified can receive a free mmj id card.
I am in the process of contacting other counties mmj ID card programs to find out if they are issuing free mmj id cards as required by Prop. 64. I intend to make the list available next week. If nothing else I hope that my contact with county mmj ID card programs will lite a fire under the counties that are not issuing free id cards to get with the program and start doing so.
Getting back to another real world advantage of having a doctor’s recommendation would be for those who travel to Arizona and want to take marijuana with them. Arizona was the only state that had a marijuana legalization initiative on the ballot in 2016 that did not pass (it almost passed – 52.1 no to 47.9 yes), but medical marijuana remains legal and Arizona’s mmj law allows for reciprocity. A medical marijuana patient may bring 2.5 ounces of marijuana into Arizona, but you better have your doctor’s recommendation with you.
Finally, and for some most importantly, having a doctor’s recommendation makes your use of marijuana seem more respectable and proper. With a doctor’s rec in your hands, family, friends, co-workers and more will give you a pass and not write you off as a ganja smoking stoner pothead.
Bottom line – at least for 2017, its best to renew your doctor’s recommendation.
From the desk of Lanny Swerdlow, RN LNC
When it comes to Breaking News about marijuana you’ll read, see and hear all about cities and counties passing bans and onerous regulations, states ignoring and refusing to implement voter imposed legislation and federal officials actively impugning and invalidating legally enacted state and local laws.
What's not Breaking News is people coming together to protect their hard won rights because people are barely discussing it let alone coming together .
Can anyone name a single organization that is holding any public meetings where actual strategy is being developed, where collaboration is being achieved and where coalitions are being formed to promote and protect our so far successful herculean efforts to end marijuana prohibition? There must be some going on somewhere, but I haven’t heard of them. Yes there is lots of talk, but there is no action and without action, all will be lost.
Today over half the nation lives in states where medical marijuana is legal and over ¼ live in states where all marijuana use is legal. We have these rights and it is time to follow the words of our patron-saint Bob Marley who wrote in the song Get Up Stand Up:
“Get up, stand up, Stand up for your rights. Get up, Stand Up, Don’t Give Up the Fight.”
It seems that many have forgotten or repressed the horrors of the past as we find ourselves in a semi-glorious present, but the moment is hanging on by the skin of its teeth and won’t last if we don’t defend it. Wherever you live, it is now or never. The longer we put off defending our hard gotten gains, the less likely it becomes that we will be able to retain them.
If you are not involved with a marijuana organization, then it is time to get involved now because if we lose the rights we have just gained, there may never come a time again in your lifetime when you can get involved with an organization promoting marijuana without being branded a traitor, a deviant and a criminal.
In the Inland Empire the first step to protecting, defending and promoting our rights to marijuana will take place at the MAPP meeting this Wednesday, February 1 at 7:30 p.m. The Drug Policy Alliance, the organization behind the coordination of the successful passage of Prop. 64, is working to fully implement Prop. 64 and is developing a strategy to overcome the obstacles being erected by a politically powerful consortium of elected officials, government bureaucrats and police agencies.
At the Feb. 1 meeting you will hear Cat Packer, California Policy Coordinator for the Drug Policy Alliance, reveal, discuss and explain what is happening in government backrooms on the local, state and federal level, the strategy for defeating local defacto bans on marijuana cultivation, kicking legislative butts to implement Prop. 64, mitigate the disaster found in the Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act and what to expect from the Trump Administration and AG Sessions and the nationwide development of coalitions to oppose them.
This is one of the first meetings of its kind in California and although that speaks well of the Inland Empire, it does not speak well of the rest of the state of California. Hopefully the IE will set the example and what we do on Wed. Feb. 1 will spread throughout the state. If and when it does, it will have started right here and you can be part of this historic meeting.
Come to the Feb. 1 meeting to learn what is happening, become motivated to take action and be a part of this momentous meeting that can help lead the way to stopping our opponents from taking our rights to marijuana away. Become empowered so that freedom and marijuana loving citizens never have to live again under a police state dictating what they can and cannot do in matters of their own personal well-being and health.
As an added bonus, you can win one of two ¼ ounce sachets of the finest quality marijuana donated by All The Way Up Collective located next door to our meeting place. Plus hear Ronnie Downey’s tips on cannabis cultivation.
There are forces, very powerful forces, that want to make everything we are doing at the meeting - conspiring to protect our rights to access marijuana, presenting information on growing marijuana and giving away a bit of cannabis - into crimes again with prison sentences and punishing fines. We are going to fight them in every way we can and one of those most important ways will be your participation, so come to the Feb. 1 meeting to learn, empower, grow and win.
The Wednesday, Feb. 1 meeting of MAPP begins at 7:30 p.m. and takes place at our new meeting location at Greenview Medical, 22275 Alessandro Blvd, Moreno Valley, CA 92553
For those who would enjoy a chance for an informal give-and-take on these issues, please join us for a pre-meeting dinner at the Happy Buffet. A full Chinese buffet including sushi, salad bar and a Mongolian Grill are available for just $7.99. The Happy Buffet is 1 ½ miles east of Greenview Medical at 23750 Alessandro Blvd., Moreno Valley 92553.
If you live in the Coachella Valley/Palm Springs and Morongo Basin/Joshua Tree area, I know it’s a drive to Moreno Valley, but if you can make the drive, I can assure you that you would not regret taking the time to come there. If you can’t make the meeting, then I will be at the PS and JT meetings to discuss what transpired at the Moreno Valley meeting and provide information on how to get involved locally.
Palm Springs/Coachella Valley meeting – Saturday, Feb. 4 at 12 noon at Crystal Fantasy, 268 N. Palm Canyon Dr., downtown Palm Springs 92262.
Joshua Tree/Morongo Valley meeting – Saturday, Feb. 4 at 3 p.m. at the - Beatnik Lounge, 61597 Twenty-Nine Palms Hwy., Joshua Tree 92252.
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From the desk of Lanny Swerdlow, RN LNC
The End of Rohrabacher/Farr Amendment
Will Give AG Designate Jeff Sessions
the Opening to Unleash Federal Cops
and Lawyers in California
US Attorney General designate Jeff Sessions underwent his confirmation hearing on January 10 and his testimony on marijuana was anything but reassuring. Although some commentators have written that his statements were wishy-washy and non-committal, I believe his responses portend a major crackdown in states that have legalized marijuana whether for medical or recreational adult-use.
After hours of questioning on a variety of issues, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt) was able to ask Senator Sessions about how he would view marijuana policy as AG:
Senator Leahy: “Would you use our federal resources to investigate and prosecute sick people using marijuana in accordance with state law even though it might violate federal law?”
Senator Sessions: “I won’t commit to never enforcing federal law, Senator Leahy, but absolutely it is a problem of resources for the federal government. The Department of Justice under Lynch and Holder set forth some policies that they thought were appropriate to define what cases should be prosecuted in states that have legalized, at least in some fashion marijuana, some parts of marijuana.”
Senator Leahy: “Do you agree with those guidelines?”
Senator Sessions: “I think some of them are truly valuable in evaluating cases, but the fundamentally the criticism I think that is legitimate is that they may not have been followed. Using good judgement on how to handle these cases will be a responsibility of mine I know it won’t be an easy decision but I will try to do my duty in a fair and just way
Senator Leahy: “The reason I mention this, is because you have some very strong views, you even mandated the death penalty for second offense on drug trafficking, including marijuana, even though mandatory death penalties are of course unconstitutional.
Senator Sessions: “Well I’m not sure under what circumstances I said that, but I don’t think…”
Senator Leahy: “Would you say it’s not your view today?”
Senator Sessions: “(laughs) It is not my view today.”
After that exchange, Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) followed up with questions regarding how marijuana policy factors into federalism and asked if the way the Obama Administration has handled marijuana laws created any issues with separation of powers and states’ rights. Sessions replied that:
“One obvious concern is the United States Congress has made the possession in every state and distribution an illegal act. If that’s something that is not desired any longer Congress should pass a law to change the rule, it is not the Attorney General’s job to decide what laws to enforce.”
Although Sessions didn’t say he would be coming after states that legalized marijuana in opposition to federal law, he certainly didn’t say he wouldn’t and his statement that "it is a problem of resources" and that “it is not the Attorney General’s job to decide what laws to enforce” leaves the door wide open for beginning a new federal crackdown on states whose citizens have decided that it’s time for a change in marijuana policy.
Unlike reproductive rights, immigration policy and climate change, marijuana policy has never been at the forefront of the concerns of Trump’s base. I would imagine that the Trump Administration is well aware that the majority of Americans, and that includes Trump’s base, feel marijuana should be legalized or at the very least left up to the states on whether to legalize. However one of Trump’s biggest supporters to whom he feels a special allegiance is cops and they would like nothing better than to see his Administration declare war on marijuana legalization and go all-out to bury it.
Although Sessions is a big proponent of states’ rights, it usually doesn’t apply to issues that he opposes like same-sex marriage. Even if marijuana was one of Session’s major out-of-the-gate concerns, there is little he can do because of the Rohrabacher/Farr amendment which prevents the DOJ from enforcing federal law in states with state-wide regulation systems for the distribution of marijuana.
The Rohrabacher/Farr amendment expires on April 28, 2017. The Amendment passed because it was supported by over 90% of the Democrats in Congress and by around 25% of the Republicans. If Trump and Sessions put the pressure on those Republicans to oppose it, then the Amendment could very well go down in defeat. If Congress does not renew it, then Sessions will be free to do whatever he wants. Based on what Sessions said and didn’t say at his confirmation hearings, it would be foolish in the extreme to wager on Sessions’ continuing the Obama Administration's policy of non-interference.
Of concern is what actions we can expect from the feds and what our range of responses can be. Although the ambiance is dark, there is more than one light beaming in from the end of the tunnel and those will be forthrightly discussed, presented and analyzed in the next newsletter.
In the meantime, I don’t mean to imply that nothing is being done on our side – important and vital work is being done but too few people are involved in it. Unless you subscribe to a marijuana newsletter like mine, you are unlikely to hear about it as the mainstream media specializes in ignoring any constructive programs we undertake.
In the Inland Empire, you will have the opportunity to learn what is being done to implement and defend Prop. 64 at the Wednesday, February 1 meeting of the Marijuana Anti-Prohibition Project. Cat Packer, California Policy Coordinator for the Drug Policy Alliance, is working to ensure the successful and equitable implementation of Prop. 64.
Cat will discuss implementation strategy on both the local and state level, focus on the current trend by cities and counties to pass defacto bans to undercut the sections of Prop. 64 that prevent local governments from banning indoor cultivation and how to defend against Sessions and the feds attempts to undo medical marijuana and recreational marijuana legislation enacted at the state level.
In addition to Ms. Packer’s presentation there will be more growing tips from Cannabis Cultivation Guru Ronie Downey. There will also be fabulous door prizes including two ¼ ounce packets of super-quality cannabis donated by the All The Way Up Collective located next door to where we meet at Greenview Medical.
There will be more information on this critically important meeting in the next newsletter, but circle the date on your calendar now so you won’t miss it. There are dark clouds in the sky for sure, but at the meeting we can celebrate the joys of cannabis as we work together towards our goal of safe, reliable, local and affordable access.
The Wednesday, Feb. 1 meeting of MAPP begins at 7:30 p.m. and takes place at our new meeting location at Greenview Medical, 22275 Alessandro Blvd, Moreno Valley, CA 92553
For those of you who would like to join us for dinner, we will be meeting at the Happy Buffet at 6 p.m. For an extraordinarily reasonable $7.99, you can enjoy sushi, a salad bar, a superb assortment of everyone’s favorite Chinese entrees and a Mongolian BBQ grill. It is a fun, pleasant and satisfying way to gather with old friends and new for an enjoyable meal before the meeting. The Happy Buffet is 1 ½ miles east of Greenview Medical at 23750 Alessandro Blvd., Moreno Valley 92553.
BEST NEWS SO FAR IN 2017
At least for California
PAUL CHABOT IS MOVING TO TEXAS
Unfortunately it won't happen until Thanksgiving
Paul Chabot, drug war proponent and twice-failed IE Congressional candidate, has announced that at Thanksgiving he and his family will “move to ‘America,’ to find a region of our nation that embraces the values and morals we cherish.”
Lamenting that liberals “have degraded the State of Reagan to but a shell of its former self” and that California has been “overrun by illegals, drug addicts and violent criminals under the umbrella of a radical liberal ideology that has destroyed the state,” Chabot announced that he will be moving to McKinney, a small city of north of Dallas, where he “fell in love with the city, its people and the values that guide Texas.”
One of the values that guide Texas that he was referring to no doubt were penalties of 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $2,000 for possessing two ounces of marijuana and up to two years in prison for possession of any amount of a cannabis concentrate.
His bid for Congressional office was as unsuccessful as his multi-tiered anti-drug organizations which fed at the tit of federal government drug prohibition money. The prohibitionist policies espoused by Chabot and his fellow reefer madness co-conspirators have destroyed the lives of thousands of Californians. To read the story in the PE, CLICK HERE.
U.S. Court Upholds IRS Denial of
Marijuana Businesses Deducting Expenses
on Federal Taxes
A U.S. District Court in Denver Colorado has ruled in favor of the IRS upholding Sec. 280E which denies marijuana businesses the ability to deduct ordinary and usual business expenses on their federal income taxes. This decision will most likely be appealed to a federal court of appeals eventually working its way up to the U.S. Supreme Court.
I would advise against holding's one brief in anticipation of a favorable ruling although that always remains a possibility. If Section 280E is ever to be repealed, it will mostly be through legislative and not judicial action. In my last email newsletter, I wrote about the California Democratic Party passing a resolution in opposition to this IRS practice. This is a start, but only a start.
To read the court's nitty-gritty synopsis of the ruling CLICK HERE.
Loma Linda University
seminar discusses marijuana
policy in light of Prop. 64
The Institute for Health Policy and Leadership at Loma Linda University Health Center will be presenting a one hour seminar entitled “Legislative Update on Marijuana in California (and the U.S.)” at their “Spotlight on Health Policy” program on Wednesday, Jan. 25 from 12 noon to 1 p.m.
Dr. Ettie Rosenberg, a licensed member of the California Bar and the California State Board of Pharmacy, will provide a presentation on policy and practice implications of California’s recently passed Prop. 64. The meeting is free and open to the public and will be held in the A-level amphitheater at the Loma Linda University Health Center, 11234 Anderson St, Loma Linda, CA 92354.
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IRS Should Stop Bankrupting Marijuana Dispensaries
Democratic Resolution Calls on Trump to
Expand Obama's Doctrine of Non-Interference
Bill's Author Says IRS Misinterpreting Reagan Era Drug Law
The California Democratic Party has passed a resolution condemning the use of an IRS code section that disallows marijuana dispensaries from deducting most of their business expenses from their federal income taxes. As a consequence marijuana dispensing businesses are required to pay taxes on almost every dollar taken in. This results in usurious and unsustainable taxation rates that would drive any business into bankruptcy.
Al Capone was brought down for not reporting income from the sale of alcohol during prohibition and not for the actual sale of alcohol. In a similar manner in 1984, at the height of the Reagan Administration’s escalation of the War on Drugs, the United State Congress directed the IRS to disallow businesses that illegally distribute schedule 1 drugs from deducting business expenses from their federal taxes.
Since marijuana is a schedule one drug, the IRS has interpreted this directive to mean that they are to deny business expense deductions to any business that distributes marijuana even if they are allowed to distribute under state law. The IRS continues to follow this policy even though the United States Congress has, through the Rohrabacher/Farr amendment, prevented the Dept. of Justice and DEA from expending any funds to investigate and prosecute marijuana businesses and the Obama Administration has directed the DOJ not to prosecute marijuana dispensaries in states that have allowed its use.
The original sponsor of 280E, former Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA) has criticized the IRS for its actions stating it "...undercuts legal medical marijuana dispensaries by preventing them from taking the full range of deductions allowed for other small businesses [and] punishes the thousands of patients who rely on them for safe, legal, reliable access to medical marijuana as recommended by a doctor."
Co-sponsored with Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) and others, Stark introduced the Small Business Tax Equity Act of 2011 which would allow for business tax deductions by businesses selling medical marijuana. The bill has not come up for a vote as it has been blocked by Republican legislators in the House Ways and Means Committee.
The IRS has in many instances used its powers to enforce this onerous provision against high profile marijuana dispensary operators such as Lynette Shaw, who opened California’s first legal medical marijuana dispensary in Fairfax and Steve DeAngelo, who operates the state’s largest collective, Harborside in Oakland, with over 100,000 members.
There is a personal angle here as I have also be targeted by the IRS in my role as founder of the Inland Empire Patients Health and Wellness Center, the collective whose case for violating the zoning ordinances of the city of Riverside went to the Supreme Court resulting in the decision that allowed cities and counties to ban medical marijuana collectives under their zoning ordinances.
I believe my targeting by the IRS was the result of a letter sent to the Department of Justice by the city of Riverside during the time the lawsuit against the collective was working its way up to the Supreme Court. In that letter asking the DOJ to take action to close the collectives operating in Riverside, City Attorney Greg Priamos and Chief of Police Sergio Diaz singled me out as the only person named in the letter and specifically calling attention to my activism to legalize marijuana.
Although the DOJ took no direct action, it is not uncommon for the DOJ to pass on such information to the IRS. There were at least a hundred people operating collectives in the Inland Empire, many significantly larger than the IEPHWC and I was the first one targeted by the IRS for investigation.
The IEPHWC never had any taxable income as expenses exceeded income as was reflected in their tax return filings. The IRS, however, has disallowed almost all expense deductions under Section 280E and now claims I am personally responsible for paying over $321,000 assessed against the collective’s aggregate income.
Recognizing this is wrong, hurts people and makes a mockery of California’s medical marijuana laws as well as Prop. 64 that makes recreational marijuana distribution legal, the California Democratic Party passed a resolution at its Eboard meeting in November 2016 that:
“requests the President of the United States of America to direct the Internal Revenue Service to cease denying the ability to deduct business expenses from their federal tax returns to businesses and individuals furnishing medical marijuana and adult-use marijuana, as permitted by state law, in the same manner that President Obama directed the Department of Justice to suspend criminal prosecutions against businesses and individuals that furnish marijuana as permitted by state law”
“requests that the United States Congress exempt licensed medical marijuana and adult use facilities from any IRS regulations that deny deducting businesses expenses to any marijuana distribution business in states where medical and adult-use marijuana is legal under state law.”
Due to its policy of not naming specific pieces of legislation or government code sections in a resolution, the California Democratic Party describe what section 280E does in its resolution without specifically naming the section.
The sponsor of the resolution, the Brownie Mary Democrats of California, a statewide chartered organization of the California Democratic Party, will be distributing the resolution to all Congressional Democrats in California requesting their assistance to bring about the implementation of this resolution.
As president and founder of the Brownie Mary Democrats of California, I am concerned that the new Trump administration and the selection of anti-marijuana law reform proponent Jeff Sessions as Attorney General may continue to allow the use of section 280E against marijuana dispensaries. This is wrong and I hope Trump realizes that most Americans support medical marijuana and the legalization of marijuana and will not think favorably of any government actions that run counter to their beliefs.
To read the full text of the resolution CLICK HERE.
Internet Radio Show presents
The Extraordinary Story
of Tom Place
Fighting AIDS, drug addiction, kidney failure and more, Tom Place knew life was coming to an end. Then he discovered cannabis and it changed and saved his life. Tom’s story is as inspiring as it is informative at he takes his first person experiences at obtaining real results using cannabis for serious problems like chronic pain, cancer, diabetes, AIDS as well as neurological & autoimmune disorders.
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