Ending Prohibition Only Will Happen
with Safe, Reliable, Local and
In my Sept. 25, 2016 newsletter, I wrote about MMRSA vs. AUMA discussing just how bad MCRSA (MMRSA has been renamed the Medical Cannabis Regulatory and Safety Act) is highlighting its complex licensing system, allowing cities and counties to ban ALL personal and commercial medicinal marijuana cultivation, ban all commercial distribution and requiring the Calif. Medical Board to crack down on doctors writing “excessive” medical marijuana recs.
I then wrote how AUMA addresses some of these problems by prohibiting cities and counties from banning indoor and greenhouse cultivation, eliminating the transport license, (arguably the most onerous of all the licenses), by protecting the rights of parents to use and grow medical marijuana without having their children taken away, eliminating state sales taxes for patients with the ID card and, what I consider to be one of AUMA’s most redeeming features, the elimination, after five years, of commercial cultivation size limits allowing farmers to engage in large scale cultivation and production of marijuana like any other agricultural crop.
This would result in a steep drop in prices as the high cost of marijuana is a result of its production costs and not its taxes. I opined that having a pound of marijuana at that same price as a pound of coffee, before taxes, would not be unreasonable.
If you would like re-read the column or read it if you are now interested in reading it for the first time CLICK HERE.
I did receive a number of huzzahs for the column, but I also did receive two comments disparaging what I wrote. Surprisingly they both focused on my comments approving AUMA’s lifting of any cultivation size limits and made no mention of any of the other reasons I provided for why AUMA is a pretty good deal. I would like to share one of them with you as I believe it gets to the core of the differences in outlook of pro-64 and anti-64 people.
All these assumptions are being presented as facts. That sounds like propaganda. We have no idea what the cost will be if 64 passes. If the price falls as much as Lanny claims what will that do to the small growers who have risked their lives for decades to provide us some of the finest herb in the world. I believe in fair trade and think a grower’s hard work should provide a livable wage. It sounds like AUMA will be a death kneel for these family farms. If all you care about is cheap weed you can buy Mexican for a few hundred dollars a pound. I think there is more at stake here than just cheap buds. Sounds like a government/corporate takeover, industrial pot, heartless capitalism. AUMA is the death of cannabis culture, of caring, fairness, peace, love and music. Replaced by government controls and the heartless concern of money. And we are being asked to do this to ourselves. AUMA is 62 very hard to understand pages for a reason. They don't want yo u to read it. Please take the time to read and understand what this really is. We can do much better. - Lonnie Painter, Director Laguna Woods Medical Cannabis Collective and President Village Cannabis Club.
“AUMA is the death of cannabis culture, of caring, fairness, peace, love and music?” Really? I will ascribe that kind of “statement-of-fact” to enthusiastic-for-the-anti-64-cause PT Barnum hyperbole. If you believe it’s true, nothing I write here will make any sense to you and you might as well stop reading now.
That being said Lonnie is absolutely right that Prop. 64 will be the “death kneel for these family farms,” most of which are illegal as well as “the small growers who have risked their lives for decades to provide us some of the finest herb in the world” which was, until recently if I remember correctly, being sold by them for $2,000 to $3,000 a pound.
When I got involved in the marijuana movement over thirty years ago, there were two goals that I wanted to help achieve. One was to stop the arrests of people for using and cultivating marijuana and two was to make marijuana as affordable as alcohol and tobacco. I feel closer to both goals then I have ever felt before.
After almost 80 years of reefer madness we are coming out of the age of marijuana prohibition, but sadly there are some folks who, along with cops and drug warriors, don’t want to see that happen.
Supporting keeping a marijuana production system in place that for the last 20 years has kept marijuana at $200/ounce or more is beyond all rational belief as it continues to make it impossible for many to afford all the marijuana they need for medicine or recreation. This is not only crazy, it is inhumane, callous and hurts people in the lower economic brackets the most.
AUMA will substantially reduce the price for marijuana as it provides for large-scale agriculture which is the basis for our California agricultural system that provides food for the nation and the world.
The California Department of Food and Agriculture reports that the state produces almost half of all the fruits, nuts and vegetables grown in the country. Along with the lion’s share of livestock and dairy products, there are 66 food crops in which California leads the nation, growing virtually ALL of the nation’s almonds, artichokes, dates, figs, raisins, kiwifruit, olives, clingstone peaches, pistachios, prunes, pomegranates, sweet rice and walnuts.
California is a major food producer for our country and can produce food at such low prices because of the economies of scale obtained on the state’s 25.4 million acres of farmland with an average farm size of 312 acres. And California’s farmers do this with farm workers comprising less than 2% of the state’s total work force.
Brokering the idea that California agriculture could produce so prodigiously and economically on farms restricted in size to one acre has got to be near the top of the list of irrational statements and makes one wonder what people who support restricting cultivation size have been drinking,
Does any rational person believe that carrots would be 49¢/lb. if farmers were forced to grow carrots like growers are forced to cultivate marijuana? Carrots would be $149/lb.
Marijuana consumers deserve the benefits of California’s amazing large-scale agricultural system which will provide them with quality marijuana at prices that are truly affordable. To deny them these benefits on the altar of marijuana cultural Kumbaya and a Robin Hood mythology of outlaw growers is absurd beyond belief.
Fear that a few large companies will produce a sizeable portion of marijuana production is to live in a Pollyanna world divorced from reality. From toothpaste to laundry detergent, just about every product that is used by tens of millions of Americans is produced and distributed by a handful of large companies. There may be other competitors but the bulk of sales are made by a few large companies. Some people might not like this capitalist system, but it works fairly well in getting the most product to the most people at the most affordable price.
What could pass as a legitimate fear is the fear that one company can take control of the entire cultivation and production process. If that is a fear, then AUMA with its no state imposed limit on licenses including a “microbusiness” license, is just what the doctor ordered.
The microbusiness license is the guarantee in AUMA that the small independent grower will always be there. If allowed under local ordinance, the “microbusiness” license allows small producers to cultivate up to 10,000 sq. ft. (about ¼ acre) and to process, distribute, transport and sell marijuana as well as have on-site consumption with just that one license.
AUMA’s microbusiness license is a kissing cousin to the wine industry where there are three major players - Gallo, The Wine Group and Constellation. Then there are about a dozen large vintners and most significantly over 4,000 small independent wineries. Low prices to high prices, mediocre to fit for a king – wine enthusiasts have it all.
With the microbusiness license available, the same will be true for marijuana - low prices to high prices, mediocre to fit for a king – marijuana enthusiasts will have it all. The number of small family owned marijuana cultivators will rapidly dwarf the independent wineries in both terms of numbers and dollars taken in.
AUMA will bring to an end the production system that came of age with the advent of marijuana prohibition in 1937. It is as transformative for those seeking safe, reliable, local and affordable marijuana as was the move from horses to automobiles.
Remember there were laws designed to make horseless carriage operation difficult - having some one walk in front waving a red flag, not exceeding 4 miles an hour, and stopping if anyone with a horse coming the other way held up a hand. As more people used cars, those laws faded and more reasonable ones took their place. AUMA is the beginning of those more reasonable laws but it is only a beginning.
AUMA promise of affordability has to be carefully guarded and nurtured as AUMA’s provisions allowing large-scale cultivation do not kick in until 2023. In deference to the growers who “risked their lives for decades” to provide $2,500/ lb. marijuana to the masses, AUMA prohibits the issuance of large-scale licenses for 5 years.
If we waited 80 years for marijuana to be sold for the same price it was sold in neighborhood drugstores before 1937, then I guess we can wait another five years.
Consumers of marijuana must be alert and oganized at the end of AUMA’s 5 year cultivation size restriction. The legislature will come under enormous pressure from the small growers who accumulated sizeable profits from the anti-competitive protection they received by not allowing large scale cultivation and allowing the marijuana prohibition model of cultivation to continue. I am sure the cops will be there too doing their best to undermine marijuana affordability by claiming that large farms will attract kids and cause drivers to drive erratically as they pass fields of thousands of acres of cannabis.
The legislature may also be under pressure from government agencies to not allow large scale cultivation. Since most of the tax revenue raised by the sale of marijuana, both on the state and local level, is based on price, a significant drop in prices that comes with large scale farming will cause a significant drop in tax revenues.
Legislators could raise the excise tax but that would take a 2/3 majority vote. Allowing the marijuana prohibition production method to continue would only require a simple majority guaranteeing an uninterrupted flow of lots and lots of marijuana tax dollars.
Without large scale cultivation, big business will be much more hesitant to move-in so the question is who will be at the state legislature lobbying for large scale farming to kick-in?
Although some big businesses with their sights on California marijuana industry might step-in, it would make more sense that if AUMA passes we should start an immediate dialog with California farmers. With a value significantly higher than many other crops, farmers will understand the potential for this new crop and lobby for large-scale marijuana cultivation. We need to work with them so that we can all enjoy the real-world benefits of a very large environmentally sound crop that is ideally suited for California’s Central and Imperial Valleys.
Prop. 64 is not the end of marijuana prohibition, but it is a humane, workable and viable pathway out of it. It is a pathway that we should look forward to taking.
Empowering Women and
Leveraging MJ into
on Internet Radio Show
The newest episode of Marijuana Compassion & Common Sense at blogtalkradio.com/marijuananews dives into the world of marijuana commerce and marijuana women featuring an interview with Washington entrepreneur Aimee Warner. As the organizer of Women of Weed, a Washington based private social club, Aimee helps to empower women to get involved in the cannabis industry and to be open and proud of their cannabis use.
Recently featured in an article by John Schroyer in the Marijuana Business Daily, she is the founder of Cannabis Basics, a company manufacturing body care products infused with hemp seed oil that may be the first marijuana company to get a THC cannabis-based health and beauty product line on the shelves of mainline retail stores. To read the Marijuana Business Daily article CLICK HERE.
Initiative 502, the voter approved law that legalized the use of marijuana for anyone over 21, didn’t fit her business model, so she lobbied Washington state lawmakers for an exception and succeeded in getting an amendment to House Bill 2136 through the legislature last year that would allow her products to be sold in stores not licensed to sell marijuana.
Aimee also works with cannabisnursesmagazine.com and the American Cannabis Nurses Association.
Hosting and interviewing is Lanny Swerdlow, RN with each episode presenting commentary on current marijuana issues as well as the featured interview. To hear the latest episode featuring the interview with Aimee Warner CLICK HERE or go to: www.blogtalkradio.com/marijuananews.
VA RETURNS TO OLD WAYS IN
REFUSING SERVICES TO VETS USING MMJ
Wed. Oct 5 meeting to address
problems and take action
There have been a number of reports from veterans in the IE receiving services at the VA’s Loma Linda facility that they have been denied services because of their use of marijuana medicinally. This is especially distressing as many had thought this problem had been resolved as the result of a veterans meeting hosted by US Congressman Raul Ruiz on March 12, 2015 in Desert Hot Springs.
Present at the meeting was Barbara Fallen, Director of the VA Loma Linda Healthcare System. A number of vets at the meeting complained about being denied services because of their use of marijuana medicinally. Ms. Fallen assured the vets and Congressman Ruiz that this problem would be looked into and that vets would not be denied services for their use of marijuana.
That this had actually taken place was confirmed by several vets who reported they were reinstated to the programs that they had been terminated from. It appeared that Loma Linda VA had indeed revised their program and there was no longer any problems.
Unfortunately something has changed and there are now reports again of veterans being denied services for medical marijuana use. Ronie Downey, one of the vets who spoke at the original meeting, has been encountering severe difficulties in accessing pain relief services. I have also had reports from other vets of similar problems.
This is an untenable situation especially in this time when medical marijuana has become such an accepted form of treatment for many vets and the Obama Administration and Congress has restrained the Dept. of Justice from interfering with a state’s medical marijuana laws. What has happened at Loma Linda needs to be immediately looked into and corrected ASAP.
To start the process going, there will be a meeting of veterans and supporters to develop the groundwork to begin a dialogue with Ms. Fallen and other administrators at Loma Linda VA as well as the offices of Congressmen Raul Ruiz and Mark Takano, who is a member of the Veterans Services committee in the U.S. House of Representatives.
If you are a veteran and have been denied services or received inadequate services at the Loma Linda VA Hospital facilities as a result of your use of marijuana medicinally, it is especially important for you to attend the meeting to address this situation. Ronie Downey will be speaking of the problems he has been encountering. Another veteran who has encountered severe problems will also be discussing his situation and it is imperative to hear from other vets in similar situations.
The meeting will be held on Wed. October 5 at 6 p.m. at the THCF Patient Center, located at 647 Main St., Unit 4D, Riverside CA 92501. All are welcome to stay for the MAPP meeting immediately following the veterans meeting. (See information at end of this newsletter for information on the MAPP meeting.)
Governor Brown Signs
and Vetoes Critical Bills
The California Legislature passed a passel of legislation that affect MMJ and MJ users and sent it to the Governor for his signature. As usual, Gov. Brown pulled some surprises out of his hat with those he signed and those he vetoed.
Historic Asset Forfeiture Reform Bill Signed by Governor
Arguably the most significant piece of reform legislation was SB 443 by Sen. Holly Mitchell that for just about the first time ever, significantly reformed California’s asset forfeitures laws, one of the most egregious usurping’s of our 4th amendment constitutional protections.
This bill will significantly curtail the odious practice of “policing for profit” by requiring police to return assets seized from innocent people by requiring that a conviction must obtained before the seized assets can be kept by police unless the assets seized exceed $40,000. Since the average value of assets seized is in the neighborhood of $8,500, the signing of this bill by Gov. Brown will severely curtail the use of this despicable practice by police.
Governor Signs Small MMJ Growers Bill
Assemblymember Jim Wood’s “Cottage Cannabis Farmers Bill,” AB 2516, created a new medical cannabis cultivator license category for “micro farmers.”
The new law will allow small medical cannabis growers to comply with the complex regulations enacted by the Medical Cannabis Regulatory and Safety Act by requiring the California Department of Food and Agriculture to develop and streamline regulations by 2018 specifically for small farm growers.
The technical requirements for the new type 1C specialty cottage cultivator license are designed for an individual farm with 2,500 square feet or less of total canopy size for mixed-light cultivation, up to 25 mature plants for outdoor cultivation, or 500 square feet or less of total canopy size for indoor cultivation only. Gov. Browns signature on this legislation should ensure the ability of these small growers to continue to operate competitively with larger grow operations.
MMJ Manufacturing Safety Bill Gets Gov. Brown’s Signature
AB 2679, authored by Assemblymember Rob Bonta, establishes standards for medical cannabis manufacturers requiring them to abide by strict standards designed to ensure the safety of the manufacturing process.
The signing of the bill by Gov. Brown and its eventual implementation will hopefully end the raids that have been conducted against the manufacturers of specialty medical marijuana products.
LA’s Proposition D dealt a blow
by veto of AB 2385
Sponsored by Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer, Sr., AB 2385 would have carved out an exemption for a limited number of commercial cannabis applicants and allowed them to operate without a local license, if they met requirements specified by the City of Los Angeles' Measure D and the Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act.
Supported by the coalition of lawmakers who crafted MCRSA and a wide spectrum of the medical cannabis industry, Governor Brown unexpectedly vetoed the measure stating, "This bill is inconsistent with the dual licensing requirement established last year by the Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act."
The only organization opposed to AB 2385 was the Los Angeles Cannabis Task Force, an organization opposed to Measure D’s granting of licenses only to dispensaries operating before 2007. Labeling the veto as “fair and inclusive" the organization stated that we can now “fix Proposition D so that new business and entrepreneurs can thrive in LA."
Wednesday, Oct. 5
at 7:30 p.m.
Patient Access Under MCRSA
What are the 2016 Changes?
Don Duncan, Board Member and Founder of Americans for Safe Access, will present information on the Medical Cannabis Regulatory and Safety Act and the changes to it enacted by the 2016 Legislature. Going into effect beginning in 2017, MCRSA will have a profound impact on how patients access medical marijuana. With rule making on its many provisions still to be made, Don will discuss how patients can get involved in the rule making process of MCRSA and other legislative actions in order to protect and enhance patient access.
There will also be a short presentation made summarizing what occurred at the Veterans MMJ meeting.
The MAPP meeting on Wed. Oct. 5 begins at 7:30 pm. and is held at the historic THCF Medical Clinic, 647 Main St., Unit 4D, Riverside 92501. Milk, punch and a delightful assortment of cookies will be available.
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MMRSA vs. AUMA
Laying the cards on the table
The Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act (MMRSA) is a tangled web of regulations, licensing and taxation that is a testament to the inability of medical marijuana patients to get state legislators to enact laws implementing both the spirit and purpose of Prop. 215. It is complex, unwieldly and unfair and was enacted at the behest of cops and their puppets in the League of California Cities to undermine Prop. 215 and make it nearly impossible for most patients to reliably, safely, affordably and locally access marijuana.
Although MMRSA sets up 18 licensing categories, it appears to be working in those few localities that have followed this legislative labyrinth. With its blank check allowing cities to have total control over the production and distribution of marijuana including enacting total bans, the only thing MMRSA absolutely guarantees for patients is that marijuana will remain exorbitantly expensive.
Although under MMRSA cultivation and distribution may be done for profit, cultivation size is restricted to 22,000 sq. ft. indoors and one acre outdoors. Vertical integration where a person or business can hold more than one license is severely restricted. The limits on cultivation and vertical integration should make those who fear big business taking over medical marijuana production and distribution breathe much easier, but it is also the main reason marijuana will remain exorbitantly expensive.
MMRSA allows cities and counties to ban all mmj patient cultivation – indoors and outdoors. Patients still retain the right to use marijuana, but they must either buy it or have someone give it to them for free. If the city or county also bans any commercial distribution then those patients will either have to travel long distances to obtain marijuana or, as most will be doing, buying it from criminals.
MMRSA also seeks to curtail the writing of medical marijuana recommendations as it legislates against "Repeated acts of clearly excessive recommending of cannabis for medical purposes, or repeated acts of recommending without a good faith prior exam." It requires the Calif. Medical Board to make the enforcement of this provision a priority.
If doctors cut back on their writing of mmj recommendations and if the doctor offices that specialize in the writing of mmj recommendations cut back or even close under stricter scrutiny by the medical board, many patients may no longer be able to obtain recommendations and those that do will most likely have to pay considerably more than they have paid in the past.
The Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA), more popularly known as Prop. 64 now that is has been assigned a number, legalizes the use, purchase and cultivation of marijuana for adults 21 and older. Cultivation of up to 6 plants per household is permitted. Although you can only leave your home with an ounce or less, you are permitted to possess all the marijuana your plants produce in your home.
Prop. 64 retains most of the unwieldly, complex and unfair regulation and licensing scheme of MMRSA. One notable exception is that the onerous transport license has been eliminated. This license has always been a major bone of contention as it will add somewhere between 15% to 30% to the cost of marijuana
The lack of a transport license is why the Teamsters Union opposes Prop. 64. The United Food and Commercial Workers Union supports Prop. 64 but that is because they are mainly concerned with workers engaged in distribution of marijuana and not transportation.
Unlike MMRSA which restricts the size of indoor cultivation to 22,000 sq. ft. and outdoor cultivation to one acre, five years after the implementation of Prop. 64, all cultivation size limits are removed allowing farmers to cultivate hundreds, if not thousands of acres, obtaining an economy of scale that will finally bring the price of marijuana way down.
Exactly how far down is a good question, but it would not be unreasonable to expect marijuana to sell for about the same as coffee which is not grown in this country, is extremely labor intensive, has to be shipped thousands of miles and requires significant processing before being delivered to the consumer.
The reason large scale cultivation is not permitted during the first five years is to give current growers, almost none of whom even come close to a medium cultivation size let alone a large scale cultivation size, a five year monopoly on cultivation which will keep prices high but also should give them large enough profits to buy large swaths of farm land so that they can engage in large scale cultivation.
Although Prop. 64 allows cities and counties to ban outdoor cultivation, it specifically denies them the right allowed under MMRSA to ban indoor cultivation “inside a private residence, or inside an accessory structure to a private residence located upon the grounds of a private residence that is fully enclosed and secure.”
Note the words “accessory structure” – a greenhouse would be considered an accessory structure.
MMRSA requires the California Medical Board to make it a “priority” to crack down on doctors who issue “excessive” medical marijuana recommendations. If a patient could no longer obtain a recommendation, they would still be able to obtain marijuana under Prop. 64 although the amounts they can possess and what they can cultivate would be significantly less than if they had a doctor’s recommendation.
Under current law, including MMRSA, Children Protective Services can take your children. Prop.64 for the first time ever protects patients from having their children taken by CPS.
11362.84. The status and conduct of a qualified patient who acts in accordance with the Compassionate Use Act shall not, by itself, be used to restrict or abridge custodial or parental rights to minor children in any action or proceeding under the jurisdiction of family or juvenile court.
It doesn’t protect parents who are adult non-medical marijuana users – a glaring oversight but if you are only concerned with how Prop. 64 protects patients, then this omission should be of no concern.
Prop. 64 also eliminates sales taxes for medical marijuana patients who obtain the state ID card. The cost of the card is reduced to $100, half-price for those on Medi-Cal and even eliminates the charge altogether for those who are indigent. Depending on how much you buy annually, it may or may not pay to get the card.
Prop. 64 does impose an excise tax of 15% on all marijuana sales and a bud weight tax of $9.25 per ounce. The same tax was to be applied to MMRSA but was defeated in the state legislature as legislators want to wait to see if Prop. 64 passes which would make it unnecessary to add a new mmj tax. When large scale cultivation kicks in and the price plummets to double digits for a pound, taxes based on cost would not be of much concern.
One of the few parts that will negatively impact patients is that in order to appeal to those voters whose worst fear is that they might be exposed to second hand marijuana smoke while smoking their cigarettes or cigars, Prop. 64 bans all public consumption even in areas where tobacco consumption is allowed. However, Prop. 64 does permit city and counties to allow on site consumption something that MMRSA does not allow. Cannabis clubs and cafes anyone?
MMRSA is what patients will have to live with whether they like it or not. Some people claim MMRSA is unconstitutional and will be overturned by the California Supreme Court, but many of them are the same people who claimed that allowing cities to ban mmj collectives under their zoning ordinances was unconstitutional.
Most attorneys are taking to heart the concluding statement in City of Riverside vs. IEPHWC:
Of course, nothing prevents future efforts by the Legislature, or by the People, to adopt a different approach.
Sure looks like the Supremes are giving a green light for the Legislature to do whatever it wants. Many attorneys who once thought that banning collectives under zoning ordinances would be unconstitutional are not making the same mistake twice i.e. they believe betting the bank on MMRSA being declared unconstitutional is ill-advised.
Finally there is the meme circulating that Prop. 64 will end the rights of patients under Prop. 215 rather than enhance them as described above. One of the most authoritative papers written on this subject is by attorney William Panzer.
Widely recognized as one of the most knowledgeable marijuana attorneys in California, William Panzer has been practicing criminal law in the San Francisco/Oakland Bay Area for seventeen years. Unlike so many others who claim a hand in the drafting of Prop. 215, Panzer actually was a co-author of the Compassionate Use Act.
Panzer has represented patients, growers, and medical cannabis dispensaries throughout California in state and federal court, at both the trial and appellate levels. He was the 2002 recipient of the NORML Legal Committee's Al Horn Award, and has been recognized by High Times Magazine as their "Freedom Fighter of the Month."
I strongly urge you to take a couple minutes and read William Panzer’s authoritative analysis of how Prop. 64 will impact Prop. 215. To read it CLICK HERE.
Millennials, Canada &
the New Revised MMRSA
The first of the month is upon us – time to mark your calendar for the October MAPP meetings. Like last month, there will be different presentations at each meeting. Come to the one nearest you or make that long drive and go to all three.
Sat. Oct. 1 at 12 noon – Palm Springs/Coachella Valley meeting features Norberto Gonzalez speaking on Millennials and the 2016 Election. Norberto is the campaign manager for Greg Rodriquez who is a candidate for the 42nd State Assembly District and has been actively involved in politics for several years. Millennials are becoming a big voting block, second only to baby boomers. They are the most progressive and inclusive generation of voters ever and will have a major effect on the 2016 elections and onward - if they come out to vote. Norberto will discuss how they will effect the 2016 elections and how the marijuana legalization initiative will bring them to the polls.
Meeting takes place at the magical Crystal Fantasy, 268 N. Palm Canyon in downtown Palm Springs 92262.
Sat. Oct. 1 at 3 p.m. – Joshua Tree/Morongo Valley meeting features a presentation on what is happening in Canada. I just came back from a week in British Columbia where marijuana has become widely available even in rural areas. From my experience at a medical marijuana dispensary to conversations with Canadians on the prospect of the Trudeau government following through on its commitment to legalize marijuana in 2017, Canada is leading the way in North America for ending marijuana prohibition.
Meeting to be held at the iconoclastic Beatnik Lounge, 61597 Twenty-Nine Palms Hwy., Joshua Tree 92252.
Wed. Oct. 5 at 7:30 p.m. – Riverside/Western IE meeting features Don Duncan, Board Member and Founder of Americans for Safe Access. The 2015 Legislature made changes to MMRSA and Don will discuss how these changes will affect patients. Information will also be presented on how patients can get involved in the rule making process of MMRSA and other legislative actions in order to protect and enhance patient access.
Meeting to be held at the historic THCF Medical Clinic, 647 Main St., Unit 4D, Riverside 92501.
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GARY JOHNSON DEFEATS
CLINTON & TRUMP
Judge James Gray Tells How
at MAPP meeting Wednesday Sept. 7 at 7:30 p.m.
plus Win a Boundless Technology Vaporizer
An ABC/Washington Post poll released last Wednesday found a common nominator amongst Democrat, Republican and Independent voters – they don’t like either of the Presidential candidates. With 60% of voters having a negative opinion of his candidacy, Trump won the poll, but Clinton is right on his tail with a 59% unfavorable rating.
In what is becoming another “lesser of two evils” election, it would seem a golden opportunity for a third party candidate to make inroads into America’s monolithic two party system. With almost 10% of voters expressing their desire for the candidacy of former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, it would seem that the Libertarians have an once-in-a-lifetime chance to finally be taken seriously by voters.
If Johnson could increase his standing to 15% of the voters, he could participate in what is being predicted to be the most watched Presidential debate since the first Kennedy-Nixon debate in 1960. With most voters not enamored of either Clinton or Trump, the lean and rugged (he climbed Mr. Everest) Johnson is the anti-thesis to what most voters see as Trump’s bombastic buffoonery and Clinton’s calculated chicanery.
Although Trump will most likely lose more voters to Johnson than Clinton, it is very likely that Johnson could win enough electoral votes to prevent either Clinton or Trump from obtaining a majority of the 538 electoral votes and hence the Presidency. With no candidate receiving a majority, the decision on who is to become President will be decided by the U.S. House of Representatives which almost certainly will still be controlled by Republicans.
Curious on how that little imbroglio will be handled? The National Records and Archives Commission has provided the answer:
If no candidate receives a majority of Electoral votes, the House of Representatives elects the President from the 3 Presidential candidates who received the most Electoral votes. Each state delegation has one vote.
Any bets on who that may be? It's not likely to be Clinton but could it be Johnson?
So who is Gary Johnson? Judge James Gray knows as he was Gov. Johnson’s V.P. running mate in the 2012 elections where they received over 1.2 million votes representing 1% of the popular vote.
At the Wednesday, September 7 meeting of the Marijuana Anti-Prohibition Project, James Gray, retired Orange County Superior Court Judge, ardent advocate for ending marijuana prohibition and the War on Drugs and author of the seminal treatise Why the Drug War Has Failed and What We Can Do About It, will provide the answer.
Judge Gray believes the Libertarian Party’s has a solution to the current presidential conundrum and that is their candidate for President, Governor Gary Johnson. Judge Gray will provide a run down on Gov. Johnson personal and political qualifications, his position on many issues facing the country and, of course, Gov. Johnson’s position on marijuana and drug law reform
He will also explain the Libertarian Party’s unique governing philosophy emphasizing personal freedom and a free-market economy. Although the Democratic Party for the first-time ever included a plank in the national party platform calling for “a pathway to legalization,” the Libertarian Party has a long history of supporting ending marijuana and drug prohibition.
Gov. Johnson is polling around 10% of likely voters and needs to increase that level of support to 15% in order to be included in the Presidential debates.Judge Gray will lay out the road map to that magic 15% number. Learn about Gov. Johnson and maybe you might be one of those people to be polled who say they favor Gov. Gary Johnson for President.
An exciting addition and bonus to the MAPP meeting will come from representatives from Boundless Vape Technology who will make a presentation on their line of innovative vaporizers featuring the latest advances in vaporization technology. They will be giving away, not one, but two of their quality vaporizers at the meeting. To learn more about Boundless Vape and see their complete line of vaporizers, CLICK HERE.
Judge Gray’s presentation and the Boundless Vaporizer demonstration and giveaway is taking place at the monthly meeting of the Marijuana Anti-Prohibition Project on Wed. Sept. 7 at 7:30 p.m. at the THCF Patient Center, 647 Main St., Unit 4D, Riverside CA 92501. The meeting is open to the public and there is no charge for admission.
MARIJUANA USE IS AT
AN ALL-TIME HIGH
A new report issued by the National Institute of Drug Abuse has found that over 13% of adults in the U.S. have used marijuana up from 10% in 2002.
According to study’s author, Dr. Wilson Compton, deputy director of the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse, "This increase has corresponded with the legal and social acceptance of marijuana, and so it is not such a surprise."
According to Steven Reinberg, senior reporter at Healthday.com, what might have surprised NIDA researchers is their finding that “despite greater usage, rates of marijuana abuse or dependence held steady in the general population at about 1.5 percent from 2002 to 2014. But among pot users only, the rate of marijuana abuse or dependence dropped from 15 percent to 11 percent.”
As many of you know from your own personal experience, marijuana use has not only been enjoyable, but beneficial for your physical, mental and social health. As more Americans either return to or start using marijuana, the increasing use of marijuana will have an overall positive and beneficial impact on our communities.
To read the report of the study at Healthday.com CLICK HERE.
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The More Is Less
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LOS ANGELES TIMES
Fraudulent Reviews & Lax Security
From Volkswagen cheating on emissions tests to the Ponzi schemes of Bernard Madoff, government and media love to take the bows for protecting the public from greedy, unsavory and corrupt businesses but now they seem poised to add marijuana consumers to their list of people they are willing to go to bat for.
On August 24, the LA Times published an expose of Weedmaps, the multi-million dollar marijuana directory service which helps marijuana consumers find marijuana because after almost 20 years of legal medical marijuana, they still cannot go to their neighborhood mega grocery store to purchase this ancient medicinal plant.
Note this investigation was undertaken not by some marijuana magazine or even some muckraking crusading alternative news magazine or media outlet, but by the largest daily newspaper in California and the 4th largest in the nation.
The LA Times article alleges that “a key feature — user reviews of pot businesses — may be tainted by thousands of potentially fraudulent comments” and “a separate analysis looking at the text in reviews estimates that 62% of all dispensary comments on Weedmaps are fake.”
The expose gets even better as apparently anyone who ever submitted a review of a dispensary to Weedmaps had their IP address revealed in Weedmaps’ publicly accessible code which made these outside and independent analyses possible.
The LA Times noted “An IP address isn’t enough on its own to definitively identify a user, but the string of numbers could be the first clue to unmask marijuana users. It can be enough to match a physical address, hack into someone’s Wi-Fi network or lure them into a cyberattack.”
Weedmaps ceased exposing reviewers’ IP addresses in its publicly accessible code two days after the article was published.
To read the entire LA Times article, and it’s a doozy, CLICK HERE.
UPLAND JUMPS ON THE
TOTAL BAN BANDWAGON
There’s A Couple Flies in the Soup
The City of Upland, which has closed 24 mmj dispensaries in the last two years, is rushing faster than a speeding bullet to enact an ordinance banning just about everything marijuana before the November 6 ballot. They are determined to make it as difficult as humanly and technologically possible to obtain marijuana should Prop. 64 pass. The proposed ban is a total and complete ban on all cultivating, dispensing, transporting, distributing, processing, labeling and testing of marijuana.
On August 24, Upland's Planning Commission voted 6-1 to send the total ban to the City Council for an expected vote on September 12. It should be noted that the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin reported that the “meeting brought out about 30 residents, all who spoke in favor of the ban.”
If enacted, Upland will be joining several other IE cities, as well as San Bernardino County, in enacting total bans although San Bernardino County’s does allow for indoor and greenhouse cultivation. The ban would become effective 30 days after it is approved thereby meeting the deadline to be in place should voters pass Prop. 64.
There is an interesting insertion to the tale that could toss a monkey wrench into Upland’s total ban as there will be two marijuana initiatives on the Upland ballot that could undo portions of their much touted anti-marijuana scheme. There is the statewide Prop. 64 initiative and there is also a local medical marijuana initiative – a little noticed initiative that ballooned into a major tax case.
The medical marijuana initiative included a licensing fee of $75,000 for each of the dispensaries that received one of the coveted licenses. The fee was supposed to cover the expenses the city would incur during the licensing process but the city argued that $75,000 is considerably in excess of what its costs would be and therefore it was a tax and not a fee.
Even though the petitioners had submitted enough signatures to require a special election the city refused to call a special election claiming the $75,000 licensing fee is a tax and state law requires all new taxes to be voted on in a general election setting the election for the November 2016 ballot.
The initiative petitioners took the city to court over their refusal to hold a special election and in a March 2016 decision the 4th District Court of Appeals ruled against the city concluding the city erred when it chose to not hold a special election.
Concerned that if the decision allowing the $75,000 to be considered a license fee and not a tax, local and national tax avoidance organizations sent out the alarm that it would create a back door in which local government’s could pass or implement a local tax without putting it to the vote of the people as required by state law. Although the city was ready to throw in the towel, they were given a last minute reprieve when the Howard Jarvis Taxpayer Association agreed to cover the cost for attorney fees. The appeal of the 4th District Court decision is now headed to the California Supreme Court.
Since the local initiative will be on Upland’s November 2016 and the California Supreme Court will not be issuing an opinion anytime soon, whatever the court rules will have no effect on whether the initiative will be on the ballot. Along with Prop. 64, it will be on the Upland ballot.
The Upland voters will help decide whether marijuana will be legal in California as well as totally decide if there will be three dispensaries operating in Upland each paying a $75,000 licensing fee or tax depending on what the Supreme Court eventually decides it should be called.
If the local medical marijuana initiative passes, it will overturn the City Council’s ban on dispensaries. If Prop. 64 passes, it will overturn the City Council’s ban on indoor marijuana cultivation including greenhouses.
POLICE, POLITICIANS &
Subjects of September MAPP meetings
For those of you in the Inland Empire and for those of you who want to make a long drive, all the IE MAPP meetings deliver information you can use in a friendly and informal setting where you meet old friends, make new friends, network and recharge.
Each meeting his its own agenda and speaker – check them out and come to all three.
PALM SPRINGS/COACHELLA VALLEY – Sat. Sept. 3 at 12 noon
10 Rules for Dealing with Police – A powerful instructive video where you learn how to:
Deal with traffic stops, street stops and police at your door
Know your rights and keep your cool,
Avoid common police tricks
Prevent humiliating searches.
Norm Stamper former Seattle Chief of Police has described this video as “Legally accurate, realistic and entertaining. This film will prepare you for how policing is done in America.”
A discussion on police practices in the IE, particularly relating to marijuana, will follow.
Meeting takes place at the bejeweled Crystal Fantasy, 268 N. Palm Canyon in downtown Palm Springs 92262.
JOSHUA TREE/YUCCA VALLEY – Sat. Sept. 3 at 3 p.m. - 42nd Assembly Candidate Greg Rodriguez
Involved with local issues from schools to human rights, Greg served as the District Director for Congressman Raul Ruiz. With a progressive and forward looking campaign, Greg will present his views on how the state legislature should deal with the many issues facing California today including the issues of medical and adult-use marijuana. For more information about Greg Rodriguez CLICK HERE.
Meeting to be held at the fabled Beatnik Lounge, 61597 Twenty-Nine Palms Hwy., Joshua Tree 92252.
RIVERSIDE/WESTERN IE – Wed. Sept. 7 at 7:30 p.m.– With temperatures a little cooler, the meeting returns to its usual location at the THCF Medical Clinic with featured speaker and honored guest Judge James Gray.
Judge Gray is a retired Orange County Superior Court Judge and was the 2012 Libertarian Party’s nominee for Vice-President. Judge Gray will be discussing the Libertarian Party’s answer to the current presidential conundrum with information on their candidate for President, Governor Gary Johnson as well as how the Libertarian Party’s position on marijuana law reform bodes well for marijuana consumers.
Meeting to be held at the THCF Medical Clinic, 647 Main St., Unit 4D, Riverside 92501.
Punch, milk and a delectable assortment of cookies will be served at all three meetings.
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The More Is Less
Dosing Conundrum of
Dr. Alan Frankel on
Internet Radio Show
to listen now
1. Hmong Cannabis Farmers at MAPP meet in San Bernardino Sat. August 3
2. Meet 42nd AD assemblyman Chad Mayes
Saturday August 6 in Yucca Valley
3. Palm Springs & Joshua Tree MAPP meetings
Western IE MAPP meeting to be held in San Bernardino
with Cannabis Social Soiree Before and After Meeting
As detailed in the last blog, the MAPP meeting on Wed. August 3 will be a truly remarkable event in terms of community involvement, consciousness raising and camaraderie. In California, a number of Hmong farms have been targeted for growing medicinal cannabis – most of the raids have been in Siskiyou, Lassen and Trinity Counties but two weeks ago, a Hmong farm was raided in Riverside County.
We need to defend our cultivators whether it is approaching retirement age hippy growers in Humboldt County or the Hmong in Riverside County. Whoever the target of law enforcement is when it comes to the cultivation of medical marijuana, it is of monumental concern because it continues to vilify our sources of marijuana while pushing a system down our throats that is unfair, complex, inordinately expensive and allows the banning of cultivation at the whim of local governments.
These raids are outrageous no matter who is targeted, but to target the Hmong is monumentally outrageous. The Hmong were firmly on the American side fighting the North Vietnam communists alongside American troops with guns, ammunition and training provided by the U.S. military. 30,000 to 40,000 Hmong perished during that war and when the war was over, the Hmong were seen as traitors and had to flee their mountainous homelands for their lives.
Over 250,000 came to the United States with almost 100,000 settling in California. As they were farmers in Vietnam, they became farmers in the United States and some of them have farmed cannabis in California. What has happened to the Hmong in Northern California and now Riverside will be the focus of the MAPP meeting this Wed. August 3.
At the meeting you will meet Mai Vue who has been working closely with the Hmong community in Trinity, Shasta and Lassen Counties and has made presentations on their behalf before city councils, county boards and community organizations. She never expected to be working here in the Inland Empire until her parent’s farm in Riverside County was raided two weeks ago, but she is now.
The raid of Mai’s parent’s farm has sent shockwaves throughout IE Hmong farmers and they fear who will be targeted next. Mai’s parents, Peter and Mai Lee (pictured her with Mai’s younger brother Peng) will be at the meeting along with several other Hmong farmers. You will have the unique opportunity to hear their stories and to personally meet them.
Also in attendance will be their attorney Stefan Borst-Censullo discussing their legal conundrum, what is being done to defend them and how this might affect other Hmong farmers and medical marijuana cultivators in general.
This is a meeting that is sure to be as inspiring as it is alarming where not only will you hear about a most grievous situation, but be part of a discussion on how to develop a more rational and clearheaded commercial cultivation system in the Inland Empire.
In case you didn’t see the correction I sent out to last Wednesday’s newsletter, the date for the meeting is Wed. August 3. The meeting begins at 7:30 p.m. As this is a cannabis welcoming location, we are for the first time ever having pre-meeting socialization at 7 p.m. and an after-meeting soiree at 9 p.m. so bring some of your finest bud and relax and enjoy while you learn and participate. Light refreshments will be served.
The meeting takes place at 1180 W. Highland Ave, San Bernardino 92405 conveniently located right off the 215 Freeway. Invite your friends and family to join you at the meeting.
Send me an email or call me at 760-799-2055 for more information. For a flyer about the meeting CLICK HERE.
Look forward to seeing you at this most audacious event.
Meet Assemblyman Chad Mayes
Sat. August 6 from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m.
If you live in the 42nd Assembly District, don’t miss this opportunity
to meet your state assembly member and lobby for medical marijuana issues he will be voting on
42nd District Assemblymember Chad Mayes is holding a Morning Constituent Discussion from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. at the The Roost at Hawk’s Landing restaurant at 55100 Martinez Trail, Yucca Valley 92284. The stated purpose of the meeting is for constituents to “Share Your Thoughts on Legislative and Community Issues.”
I will be going and I encourage everyone in the 42nd District to attend. There are number of medical marijuana tax issues that will be voted on in the Assembly in August as well as a critical asset forfeiture reform bill. If we do not let Assemblyman Mayes know our positions on these issues, then who will? Please join me at this important meeting for voters in the 42nd District which covers 29 Palms, down 62 to I-10 and then down the Coachella Valley to LaQuinta.
They are asking that people planning on coming RSVP at 760-346-6342. I can assure you that you will not be turned away if you do not RSVP, but it will give them an idea on how many people to expect so that adequate seating and whatever refreshment they are providing will be available.
Palm Springs & Joshua Tree
MAPP Meetings Sat. Aug. 6
Palm Springs/ Coachella Valley MAPP meeting - Saturday, August 6 at 11:30 a.m.
Crystal Fantasy is presenting their monthly Medical Cannabis Education Day with showings and events. Our MAPP meeting is part of the Medical Cannabis Education Day. Topics to be covered will include information on the meeting with Assemblyman Chad Mayes, an analysis of Democratic and Republican conventions and positions on marijuana legalization, the raid on IE Hmong Cannabis farmers and somewhat alarming new research into second hand marijuana smoke.
Meeting to be held at Crystal Fantasy, 268 N. Palm Canyon, downtown Palm Springs 92262.
Yucca Valley/Joshua Tree MAPP meeting - Saturday, August 6 at 3 p.m.
Topics to be covered will include information on the meeting with Assemblyman Chad Mayes, an analysis of Democratic and Republican conventions and positions on marijuana legalization, the raid on IE Hmong Cannabis farmers and somewhat alarming new research into second hand marijuana smoke.
Meeting to be held at the fabled Beatnik Lounge, 61597 Twenty-Nine Palms Hwy., Joshua Tree 92252
The story of the Hmong people and their tragic role in Vietnam makes the raid last week of a Riverside County Hmong medical marijuana farm a stinging indictment of the never ending American war machine both on foreign and domestic soil.
The Riverside raid will be the focus of the Wed. Aug. 6 MAPP meeting at our new meeting location with Hmong family farmers in attendance to tell their story of their flight from Vietnam, their precarious existence as refugees and the resurrection of their lives in the United States and Riverside County.
In the beginning of the 19th Century the Hmong people moved from China to areas that became Laos, North Vietnam and Thailand. Settling in the mountainous areas of these countries, the Hmong continued their agrarian culture as farmers producing a variety of crops including cannabis which was used for rope, clothing and other textiles.
The Hmong became embroiled in the CIA’s secret war in Laos as their farms and villages in Northern Laos and North Vietnam were seen as critical by the U.S. military for providing safe passage into North Vietnam to fight the Viet Cong.
The Long Cheng airbase in Laos became the focal point of the U.S. effort to defeat the Communist Pathet Lao and North Vietnamese in Laos. So critical to the American war effort was the help of the Hmong that William Colby, Director of the CIA during the Reagan administration, credited the Hmong with saving the lives of thousands of U.S. soldiers as they blocked the North Vietnamese from their efforts to extend the Ho Chi Minh Trail into Laos for several years.
To fight the Communist Pathet Lao and Communist North Vietnamese, the CIA provided the Hmong with guns, money and training.
During this time the American military began to crack down on the use of marijuana by troops in Vietnam which resulted in an increase use of heroin by civilians and soldiers. Opium had become the primary cash crop of the Hmong, so to help them the CIA provided the Hmong with American UH-1 helicopters to transport the opium from their mountainous farms to distribution centers in Laos and South Vietnam.
30,000-40,000 Hmong died fighting on behalf of the Americans in Northern Laos. The last American plane and the last U.S. military personnel left Laos in June 1974. In their place, over 40,000 North Vietnamese troops arrived to assist the Communist Pathet Lao in the control Laos.
Although a limited number of high ranking Hmong were evacuated by the United States and many fled to Thailand, thousands were left behind where the Pathet Lao publicly declared in May 1975 their intent to “wipe out” the Hmong people.
Beginning in 1976, many Hmong people began their flight from Thailand’s refugee camps to the U.S., France, Australia, French Guyana, and Canada. In 1979 over 10,000 Hmong were resettled in the United States with numbers increasing every year to a peak of 27,000 in 1980. The numbers decreased to under 5,000 per year through the mid-1980s but began increasing again in 1987 exceeding 10,000 in 1988 and leveling out to about 5,000 per year through 1994.
Today over 270,000 Hmong reside in the U.S. with over 90,000 residing in California, 66,000 in Minnesota, 50,000 in Wisconsin and significantly smaller populations in North Carolina, Michigan, Colorado, Georgia, Alaska, Oklahoma and Oregon.
Many Hmong, especially their children born in the U.S. have become U.S. citizens and have assimilated into American culture. However many Hmong maintain their traditional livelihood as farmers as well as their cultural practices. About 2/3 of Hmong in the U.S. continue to practice the traditional animist Hmong religion and shamanism with the remaining 1/3 adopting Christian and other systems of belief and non-belief.
In California some Hmong families have, along with their vegetable farms began producing medicinal marijuana. However although the American government was willing to assist them in the production of opium for their support of the American war in the Vietnam, it now seems the government will arrest them for their production of medicinal marijuana in California.
Hmong farms have been raided in Trinity, Siskiyou and Lassen Counties and last week a Hmong Farm was raided in Riverside County by the Riverside County Sheriff’s office Special Investigations Unit.
The farm held the recommendations for over 1,500 patients and was growing one hundred plants in each of two greenhouses and one hundred plants in an outdoor grow.
The Riverside raid in particular as well as the raids in other countries will be addressed at the Wednesday, August 6 MAPP meeting by Mai Vue, a Hmong medical cannabis activist whose parents operated the farm in Riverside that was raided.
Mai’s parents are expected to attend the meeting as well as their attorney Stefan Borst-Censullo who will discuss the legal issues they are facing.
Due to the excessive heat expected in August and the lack of air-conditioning in the meeting room of THCF Patient Center, the Wednesday August 6 MAPP meeting will be held at a new location in San Bernardino at 1180 W. Highland Blvd., San Bernardino CA 92405.
This is a cannabis friendly location with smoking permitted in the back patio area and vaporizing permitted indoors. This place is so cannabis friendly that although the meeting will begin at 7:30 p.m. as usual there will be pre-meeting socialization at 7 p.m. and immediately following the meeting at 9 p.m. Medical marijuana will not be available for sale, so along with your mmj recommendation, please BYOC (Bring Your Own Cannabis) for your enjoyment and the enjoyment of others.
Refreshments will be provided. The only problem is that there is not enough chairs to accommodate everyone expected to attend, so if you are coming and have some chairs you can bring with you, that would be much appreciated. Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know the number of chairs you will be bringing.
There will be more information about the Hmong, the raids on their farms and this very special meeting in the next newsletter sent out on Sunday, July 31, but if you have any questions or need more information, please contact me by sending an email to email@example.com or calling me at 760-799-2055.
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The Ganja Divide
Along with climate change, income inequality, campaign finance reform, gun control, immigration and reproductive rights, marijuana has become another issue that dramatically separates the Democratic Party from the Republican Party.
As the parties prepare for their anointing national conventions, they have busily been hammering out their respective platforms. Marijuana has always been absent from these platforms but with 25 states allowing medical marijuana and four states allowing legal marijuana plus at least four states with legalization initiatives on the 2016 ballots, even for the risk adverse, marijuana is an issue that can no longer be ignored.
As a consequence there has been battle royals over including marijuana in both party platforms and whereas the Democrats went for it full tilt boogie, the Republicans decided that discretion is the better part of valor.
With 12 state Democratic Parties calling for marijuana law reform and five determined Bernie Sander’s representatives on the 15-member Platform Drafting Committee, it was all but certain that the party would for the first time ever address the marijuana issue in the party’s national platform. The question was how forthright would the platform plank be?
Over the objections of the Sander’s delegate members who wanted a full-throated legalization plank, what came out of the Platform Drafting Committee was quasi-milk toast, but it was still pretty direct in its support for ending prohibition.
“We believe that the states should be laboratories of democracy on the issue of marijuana, and those states that want to decriminalize marijuana should be able to do so. We support policies that will allow more research to be done on marijuana, as well as reforming our laws to allow legal marijuana businesses to exist without certainty. And we recognize our current marijuana laws have had an unacceptable disparate impact, with arrest rates for marijuana possession among African-Americans far outstripping arrest rates among white despite similar usage rates.”
Supporting decriminalization, additional research and especially the part about allowing legal businesses to exist was a pretty far reaching step for a very first time marijuana plank in the Party’s Platform, but the times they are changing. The Sander’s delegates wouldn’t take milk toast as an answer and planned an end run when the draft platform came before the entire 187 member Platform Committee on Saturday, July 9.
When the marijuana plank came up for discussion before the full committee, the Sander’s delegates introduced an amendment that would have removed marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act. David King, a lawyer and Sanders delegate from Tennessee, argued that marijuana was added to the act — giving the drug the same legal classification as heroin — during a "craze" to hurt "hippies and blacks."
With some committee members arguing the amendment went too far and could undermine efforts by states to decriminalize marijuana, a compromise was offered that did not call for the removal of marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act but rather called for the removal of marijuana from Schedule 1 and then went on with a call for “a reasoned pathway for future legalization.”
Rescheduling marijuana out of schedule 1 into another schedule is not the answer especially if it is put in schedule 2 but the word “legalization” was now in the plank and that seemed to satisfy enough Platform Committee members that it passed 81-80.
No surprise that a victory that narrow resulted in a fight breaking out whether the voting was done properly but it all came to a civil conclusion when former Arkansas U.S. Senator Mark Pryor, a high-powered Clinton delegate declared “we withdraw the objection.” Although the opponents of the new plank were not thrilled that the earlier plank had been replaced, they obviously felt it was not worth the effort and expenditure of political capital to try and restore it.
The marijuana amendment adopted by the platform committee is much shorter and more direct and now reads:
"Because of conflicting laws concerning marijuana, both on the federal and state levels, we encourage the federal government to remove marijuana from its list as a Class 1 Federal Controlled Substance, providing a reasoned pathway for future legalization."
Obviously the Democrats see having a marijuana plank as something that will bring them far more votes than they would lose so they are not in the least bit concerned about having a pro-marijuana plank in the National Platform. Further the amended plank might be seen as a bone that will satisfy some Bernie Sander’s delegates making them more willing to compromise on what many Clinton Democrats see as far more substantive issues that have polarized the party such as the Trans Pacific Partnership and busting up the “too-big-too-fail” banks..
The Democratic Party for the first time ever now has a plank in the party platform actually using the word “legalization,” so where do the Republicans stand on this issue?
The answer, unfortunately, is that they don’t stand anywhere – they have avoided it like a mouse avoids a cat. They are so totally flummoxed by the issue that even medical marijuana is still taboo.
At the GOP Platform Committee meeting on July 11, a platform plank supporting medical marijuana was introduced by Eric Brakey, a legislator and delegate from Maine. So saddled with Cheech and Chong mythology the introduced platform plank only dealt with non-smokeable medical marijuana.
Considering that polls show up to 80% of Americans support allowing a doctor to recommend marijuana to their patients, it would seem almost a no-brainer to support the plank, but brains seems to be in short supply. From claiming smoking marijuana causes mental illness to connecting marijuana use with the heroin epidemic, every negative marijuana stereotype abounded. It was reefer madness on steroids with one delegate claiming that young boys from divorced families become mass murderers because they smoke pot.
Proponents of the plank stated that opponents misunderstood the scope of the proposal and pointed out that marijuana significantly improved the lives of patients with a variety of debilitating conditions and helps children whose conditions cannot be controlled with any other medication.
Alas their reasoned arguments were not to carry the day. The first voice vote was declared to close to call, but a second vote sealed its doom.
At least the Republican Platform doesn’t take a position opposing legalization. I guess the Republicans are willing to tolerate marijuana as long it’s kept in the closet.
From immigration to climate change, there will be lots of cards being played. Marijuana is a new card, but just how willing and to what extent the Democrats are willing to put it into play remains to be seen.
Whether the marijuana card is played and/or whether there is a marijuana plank in either party’s platform, cannabis now has a seat at the table. It may not be the 800 pound gorilla in the room, but it can no longer be swept under the rug.
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A Long Way Baby
A better example of how far marijuana law reform has come in the last decade would be hard to find then what transpired at the Chalice Cup Festival held this weekend at the San Bernardino County Fairgrounds in Victorville.
Hundreds of booths selling every kind of marijuana product imaginable – flowers, edibles, hash, tinctures, concentrates – still no suppositories though. Consumption was rampant – people smoking, vaporizing, eating and dabbing everywhere.
Every kind of smoking accessory was available as well vendors selling the big stuff – CO2 extractors, resin presses and more. One would think it was all perfectly legal – which it is not of course but it sure seemed to be what with San Bernardino Co. Sheriff officers amiably strolling through the aisles where all this was going on.
I spoke with one as he walked past our booth with a big smile on his face waving as he strolled by. I asked him if he was having a good time and he said he most certainly was. I asked if it was OK for him to have a good time here while on duty and he replied it most certainly was and he was looking forward to hearing the Wu Tang Clan in concert that evening.
Festivals like the Chalice Cup are technically illegal as no one is licensed by anyone to sell anything. Unlike the food purveyors in their food trucks at the Chalice Cup most of the marijuana sellers at the Chalice Cup are not licensed where they are located and none of them are licensed in San Bernardino County because San Bernardino County doesn’t issue any licenses.
It’s kind of like the Gun Control Act gun show loophole that allows unlicensed dealers to sell any and all kinds of guns to individuals without any background checks or fulfilling any registration requirements. I guess what happens at the Chalice Cup and all the cannabis festivals is a kind of Marijuana Show Loophole from licensing and retailing requirements that would be required just about everywhere else.
Of course there is another big difference – gun shows sells things that are specifically made for killing living organisms such as people. Marijuana doesn’t kill anyone – in fact it might make a person less likely to kill someone with a gun. Maybe there should be a requirement that all gun owners must also possess a medical marijuana recommendation.
Getting back to reality, marijuana festivals could be in for a rude awakening when California’s Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act (MMRSA) goes into effect in 2017. It is problematic whether these festivals can continue as there is no license for a medical marijuana festival nor is there any specific authority for local governments to allow such festivals.
Unlike MMRSA, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA) initiative specifically allows local governments to permit on-site consumption. Whether that can be so broadly interpreted as to allow for these anything goes marijuana festivals remains to be seen.
Most likely either under MMRSA or AUMA, if a local government wants to charge an outrageous fee for a permit to hold a marijuana festival with laissez fair controls on the sales and consumption of marijuana, it is unlikely that the state will intervene to prevent it. This is especially true since the Riverside Decision and the newly acquired undying reverence state government seems to have towards local government authority when it comes to marijuana.
Local government may even score a new source of revenue by requiring all the vendors who want to sell marijuana at the licensed festival to obtain temporary licenses. Maybe the state could jump on this money bandwagon too and require all the vendors to obtain a temporary state license as well.
It is interesting to note that there are so many of these festivals going on that for many vendors it is a full time mmj circuit as they go from mj festival to mj festival in their fancy RVs – much like the vendors who are on the Native American art show or gem and mineral show circuits. Although the state and local governments don’t issue licenses to sell rocks at those shows, there will be probably be an annual mj festival license issued by the state. Come on – stranger things have happened.
Tens of thousands attended the Chalice Cup and most were under 30 – it was definitely a Millennials party. There was hardly anyone there over 40, let alone my age and I was probably the oldest person there. The only time I saw anyone I suspected of being around my age was at the Wu Tang Clan concert when this elderly gentleman came up to where I was and stood there for a while. I think he might have thought it was the senior citizen section.
For those of us who grew up during the worst excesses of reefer madness, to see and participate in an event like the Chalice Cup is nothing short of one of the most extraordinary experiences of life. If you have not been to one of these events, it definitely has to be added to your bucket list. I think I will contact some of the upcoming marijuana festival sponsors and suggest that they have a discount for Senior Citizens.
I have often noted that our meetings are like Senior Citizen meetings with the total lack of any young people. Maybe if more of us went to their events, maybe they would come to ours.
In conclusion on my day at the Chalice Cup, I would like to note that several studies have recently documented that people who use marijuana weigh less, have a lower BMI and a smaller waist than people who do not use marijuana. This was certainly evident in the young people attending the Chalice Cup. Although slightly under one-third of Americans under the age of 30 are considered obese or overweight, I would venture to guess not more than 10% of the people at the Chalice Cup would qualify in either category. They were over-whelmingly a well-proportioned crowd exhibiting all the vim and vigor characteristic of healthy young adult mammals.
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Gutting and Strengthening 4th Amendment's
Search and Seizure Provisions
Stop Seizing Property from Innocent People
The War on Drugs has really been a War on Constitutional Rights as it has significantly expanded the power of police by ominously undermining your fourth amendment rights.
“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
There are two significant 4th Amendment issues that are in play right now. This week the Supreme Court issued a 5-3 ruling significantly increasing the ability of police to stop and search you (not good) while in California you have a chance to roll back the ability of police to seize your property and keep it (very good).
Let’s start off with asset forfeiture as that is something you can actually do something about right now.
Asset forfeiture has got to be one of most flagrant violations of your 4th Amendment rights as it allows police to seize and keep assets that they only suspect have been involved in criminal activity. Although you are entitled to protections under criminal law, your property is not.
Whereas you need to be found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt to be convicted of a crime, your property needs only to be suspected of a crime to be permanently forfeited to police. As a consequence police can take and keep your money, car, home or other personal items without even charging you with a crime.
This activity is called Policing for Profit and totally distorts police law enforcement priorities as they are financially rewarded for catching a drug dealer but not for catching a murderer, rapist or burglar.
Although California has passed legislation reforming asset forfeiture law, local law enforcement has gotten around those reforms by joining with federal law enforcement officials in a system called “equitable sharing” in which local police get up to 80% of the value of seized property. Evidentiary laws are far less rigorous at the federal level and thus are seen by local police as a very profitable way to circumvent California’s more stringent state laws.
As a result, state and local law enforcement agencies have increased asset forfeiture seizures by nearly 250% over a 12-year period. Between 2000 and 2013, $696 million of private assets were seized by law enforcement through asset forfeiture laws. In 2014 more property was permanently seized from owners by asset forfeiture than by burglary.
Fortunately we have an opportunity to end this heinous and unfair practice. State Senator Holly Mitchell (D-30th SD) has sponsored SB 443 which would require a conviction in order for seized assets to be retained and requires police to use state asset forfeiture laws instead of federal asset forfeiture laws in most cases.
SB 443 will bring an end to Policing for Profit in California. The bill has passed the Senate and now awaits a vote on the floor of the Assembly which is expected this week. You can help this bill get passed into law by contacting your state assembly member and asking them to vote Yes on SB 443.
It is easy to do – you don’t even have to know who your state assembly member is. Just CLICK HERE to go to an ACLU website where you can easily send a message to your state assembly member. It won’t take you 60 seconds to do it and it will even tell you who your assembly member is.
With police putting extreme pressure on legislators to vote against SB 443, the vote is expected to be close, so your assembly member’s vote can make the difference. If you are concerned with the 4th amendment right for American citizens “to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures” then send your assembly member a message to support SB 443 – just CLICK HERE.
There’s was a great oped in the OC Register about SB 443 – to read it and learn more CLICK HERE and then if you still haven't sent a message to your state assembly member to Vote YES on SB 443 - do it right now by CLICKING HERE.
Using an Illegal Search Against You
SB443 is a major step in the right direction, unfortunately this week the U.S. Supreme Court took a big step in wrong direction.
In a 5 – 3 decision, the court ruled that a police officer’s illegal stop and search of a man on the street did not prevent evidence obtained from the illegal search to be used against him.
Writing for the court’s majority, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote that the stop was a result of a “good-faith mistake” and that the illegal stop was, at worst an “isolated instance of negligence.” Try using that in court as argument why you shouldn’t be convicted of drunk driving because you made “a good-faith mistake” and that the incidence was just an “isolated instance of negligence.”
Dissenting Justice Sonia Sotomayor took strong exception to that reasoning writing that this case allows police to stop you on the street, demand your identification, and check it for outstanding traffic warrants even if you are doing nothing wrong.
The dire constitutional consequences of this decision is succinctly summarized in Justice Sotomayor’s own words.
“By legitimizing the conduct that produces this double consciousness, this case tells everyone, white and black, guilty and innocent, that an officer can verify your legal status at any time. It says that your body is subject to invasion while courts excuse the violation of your rights. It implies that you are not a citizen of a democracy but the subject of a carceral state, just waiting to be cataloged.
We must not pretend that the countless people who are routinely targeted by police are isolated. They are the canaries in the coal mine whose deaths, civil and literal, warn us that no one can breathe in this atmosphere. They are the ones who recognize that unlawful police stops corrode all our civil liberties and threaten all our lives. Until their voices matter too, our justice system will continue to be anything but.”
Right on Justice Sotomayor. It is interesting to note that the justices supporting the decision were the court’s five men and the three justices dissenting were the court’s three women.