Complex, Unfair and Expensive
New Chief of the State Agency Implementing
MMRSA is Coming to Riverside and San Diego
to Speak with YOU!
Be Heard Online and In-Person
The Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act (MMRSA) is going to have a major impact on mmj patients. Although it can be made to work, it is unfair, complex beyond all reason and is positively guaranteed to keep the price of marijuana exorbitant – some growers might approve of that!
Further it allows cities and counties to continue banning mmj dispensaries and even ban ALL mmj cultivation by patients.
It cracks down on doctors issuing “excessive” mmj recommendations most likely making recommendations more expensive and harder to obtain.
Now the legislature could have made MMRSA much more patient friendly by requiring cities and counties to allow patient cultivation, allowing for large scale cultivation, creating a simpler and less onerous licensing system and so on, but they didn’t.
It’s become obvious that our legislators are no longer besotted by reefer madness views on the dangers of marijuana to our community’s health, but they are sure wedded to the almighty cannabis dollar.
This week the legislature passed by a resounding and required 2/3 majority two mmj tax increases.
SB 987 puts in a place a 15% excise tax on all mmj sales by licensed distributors. The Senate passed it 27 to 10.
It was almost a party line vote with all Democrats supporting it and six of the 10 Republican opposing it. If the four Republicans who voted for it had followed the party line of no increased taxes and voted against it, it would have failed. This bill now goes to the Assembly.
AB2243 assesses a weight tax of $9.25 per ounce on bud, $2.25 per ounce on leaves and $1.25 on each plant sold. It passed 60 to 12.
One Democrat voted no, one Democrat abstained and 10 Republicans out of 28 voted no. This bill now goes to the Senate.
Since both bills passed their legislative chamber of origin by the required 2/3rd of the each chambers members for any bill increasing taxes, it is likely that they will also pass by that same margin in the chamber they are now going too. We could hope that in the Senate that one of those four Republicans that broke ranks with the Republican Party line opposing all tax increases gets back in-line and votes against AB2243.
Don’t hold your breath for Governor Brown to veto either bill.
Although a number of patients feel MMRSA is unconstitutional, a lot of us thought banning collectives under a city’s zoning laws was also unconstitutional. Whether it is or not, no case has been filed and even if one was filed tomorrow it would take a minimum of two most likely three years to reach the Supreme Court.
MJ is now all about money and not about reefer madness in the California legislature. As reported in last week’s newsletter, the Assembly Appropriations committee shot down the MJ DUI bill that if a person had 5ng/ml or more THC in their blood that they are presumed to be legally impaired.
That 5ng/ml threshold is nonsense and although I am sure law enforcement boogeymen were present predicting blood soaked mayhem on California highways if the mj DUI bill was not passed, our legislators did not buy into it.
What they did buy into was getting more money for the state from mmj making an already unaffordable medicine for many unaffordable for even more. Criminals sure like that part.
It looks like mmj patients are stuck with a complex and expensive cultivation and distribution system, pricey and multifarious local and state licensing fees, local taxes and now new state taxes. State license fees are not known yet, but they are coming too.
I sure wouldn’t want to be the person who has to explain it all to mmj patients, but the state is paying a yearly salary of $150,636 to do just that.
Lori Ajax is the new Chief of the Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation. She was the former Chief Deputy Director of Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. Considering that medical marijuana advocates did not want regulatory power placed under the Alcoholic Beverage Control, as originally proposed, it’s kind of ironic that the new Chief comes from the agency they didn’t want.
When asked in an April 7 interview with the Los Angeles Times “Is there a legitimate reason for people to get medical marijuana? Ms. Ajax replied:
“Unlike regulating alcohol, I'm not a user of marijuana so I am not familiar with how that affects people or what it does. But from the outreach I've done since I got here, it appears there is a medical need and I'm tasked with doing this and I'm going to do it.”
She does seem determined to do it. Ms. Ajax spoke at ASA’s Citizen Lobby Day morning training session and as was reported at the last MAPP meeting by Mitchel, one of the IE patients who attended, she seemed to be “sincere and concerned with patients.” I totally agree - she really does seem to be saying the right things at this stage of the game.
She is making a tour throughout the state to meet with patients and hear their concerns and answer their questions about this new agency. She makes no bones about having all the answers – she hasn’t been there two months and actually that is what she was hired to do – come up with the answers.
This tour is a good example of her commitment to come up with the best answers possible to a piece of legislation that is totally oblivious of fulfilling the requirements of Prop. 215 which called on the legislature to develop a “plan to provide for the safe and affordable distribution of marijuana to all patients in medical need of marijuana.”
Ms. Ajax is coming to Riverside and San Diego this week and you have the exciting opportunity to hear her and provide your input on how MMRSA should be implemented in Riverside.
San Diego– Thursday, June 9 – CalTrans Building, Garcia Room
4050 Taylor Street, San Diego, CA 92110
Riverside - Friday, June 10 - Riverside County Administrative Center,
Board Chambers, 1st Floor, 4080 Lemon St, Riverside, CA 92501
As you can see they are asking people to register to guarantee a seat. When you click on the above link for the meeting you want to attend, it shows the number of seats available dwindling so it might not be a bad idea to reserve a seat. It does ask for your name which some people might be uncomfortable providing. I guess you could put in a fake name, but I am fairly certain that putting in a fake email address could be a problem.
The Riverside facility is pretty large – like 500? – and I find it hard to believe that 500 people can be attracted to a marijuana event in which there is no marijuana, so there might very well be seats available but it wouldn’t hurt to make a reservation.
Whether you attend or not, the BMMR wants to hear from you with an online survey asking some pretty good questions that should guide them in developing the regulations. So take a couple minutes and take the survey by CLICKING HERE.
Medical Marijuana Patient and
Long Long Time MAPP member
Art Exhibit in Morongo Valley
You are cordially invited to attend the Art Show opening of Misty Sunshine on Saturday, June 11 from noon to 3 p.m. at the Covington Park Gallery in Covington Park, 11165 Vale Dr., Morongo Valley 92256. Sunshine will have on display over 45 of her original art works.
Sunshine has been a member of MAPP for over 15 years going back to the time when we were still holding our only monthly meeting at the Cathedral City Library. Sunshine now attends the monthly MAPP meeting in Joshua Tree with her husband and just as long a time member Red. Both Sunshine and Red would look very forward to meeting old friends and making new ones at this very special event.
Now for many of you, going up to Morongo Valley is an hour or more drive, but make a day of it and visit the world famous Big Morongo Canyon Nature Preserve right next door. It is a pristine Desert Willow Oasis and is wonderful to walk through especially on a hot summer day.
The main trail is only .65 miles and is a genuine eco-friendly boardwalk that takes you not just through the Oasis but actually onto and over the Oasis. It is fully handicap and wheelchair accessible. There are more trails to hike for the more adventurous. For more information on Big Morongo Canyon Preserve CLICK HERE.
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“No man's life, liberty, or property are safe
while the legislature
is in session”
The great American author might have added medical marijuana to the list of endangerments as can be seen by the raft of bills being considered by the California legislature. From taxes to smoking in an apartment, everything seemed to be on the table and most of it was not palatable to medical marijuana patients.
20 years after California’s landmark Prop. 215 passed, the state legislature finally got around to passing comprehensive legislation known as the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act (MMRSA). This obnoxious piece of legislation sought to enact statewide regulations for the cultivation, distribution and use of medical marijuana. Replacing for the most part the mostly incongruous SB 420, MMRSA is unfair, expensive and unwieldly. As its implementation in 2017 approaches, mmj patients are going to have to learn to live with it.
It would be wholly unrealistic to expect anything good would come from MMRSA and not surprisingly most of the bills introduced in the 2016 legislature showcased just how bad MMRSA was and how the legislature could make it even worse.
Jumping into the fray were over 150 medical marijuana patients and advocates from throughout California at Americans for Safe Access’s annual Citizen’s Lobby Day in Sacramento. Although ASA’s intrepid multitude were outflanked by law enforcement and their lackeys in the League of California Cities, legislators from both sides of the aisle were lobbied on 14 bills that will affect medical marijuana patients.
Some of the bills were fairly innocuous such as AB 26 requiring employees of medical marijuana dispensaries to receive competency education. Others were helpful such as SB 1116 which would allow the Board of Equalization to waive the 10% penalty imposed on dispensaries because they cannot write checks and must pay in cash.
However, most were neither innocuous nor helpful, but were downright awful. AB 2243 would impose a weight tax on the amount of marijuana purchased and SB 987 would enact a 15% excise tax on marijuana purchases. This would increase the overall tax burden on the legal purchase of medical marijuana to 30% or more.
The absolute worst bill for medical and recreational marijuana users was AB 2740, a DUI bill which would place a per se impairment on anyone driving with 5ng/ml or more THC in their blood – a level based on absolutely no scientific evidence and so low as to make it impossible for almost anyone to drive long after all effects have dissipated.
I along with four other IE residents attended and with the other 150+ attendees visited our state legislators’ offices. Although all bills were on the table, the main ones lobbied on were the tax bills and the DUI bill.
IE residents Debbie Reimers, Victor Michel and myself meet with the Legislative Directors of IE Assemblyman Chad Mayes (R-42nd AD), State Senator Jeff Stone (R-28th SD) and State Senator Jean Fuller (R-16th SD). In all three cases we were welcomed warmly and treated with respect. All three staff members were of the opinion that their boss would not support the tax increases, but were far more circumspect regarding the DUI bill and not opining on how their bosses would vote.
Was the lobbying by us and the other attendees successful? Hard to tell but on Friday, the Senate and Assembly Appropriation Committees gavels fell on some of the bills while others were anointed for further consideration.
The Appropriate Committees hold these sessions, known as Suspense Hearings, twice during each annual legislative session to decide whether or not bills that have a financial impact of $150,000 or more will proceed to a vote on the floor. Bills sent to the floor for a vote have a chance of moving forward towards adoption. Bills held in committee are dead for the year.
It should come as no surprise that the Committees approved and moved along the legislative process the two bills that would increase taxes on medical marijuana, but they killed the DUI bill. Perhaps they were concerned that if the DUI bill got passed, people would consume less marijuana which would lower the tax money taken in from the two bills that increased taxes.
The Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA), the legalization initiative that appears likely to be on the November ballot has similar tax increases and if it passes, the taxes in AUMA would supplant the taxes in these two bills so there would not be an additional tax on medical marijuana. AUMA does toss a bone to mmj patients by eliminating the 8.5% sales tax for mmj patients that have the state issued ID card.
Many feel that since no sales tax is assessed on prescription medication that no tax should be imposed on medical marijuana either. Although that seems eminently fair, the problem is that only doctor prescribed medications are free of taxation. Over-the-counter medications like aspirin and ibuprofen are still taxed. Marijuana is not a “prescribed’ medication – it is a “recommended” medication. State law only exempts “prescribed” medications and that is why OTC medications and marijuana pay sales taxes.
This conundrum could be resolved by moving marijuana from CSA Schedule I (no accepted usage) to Schedule II (high potential for abuse, can be prescribed but strictly controlled) as is being advocated by some. If that happened then doctors could write prescriptions and no sales tax would be imposed.
Of course that means only licensed pharmaceutical companies likes Pfizer and Merck could produce and distribute marijuana. This would guarantee continuing high prices plus the requirement to get a doctor’s prescription which would keep the medicine expensive and more difficult to obtain as doctors are kept under the watchful eye of the DEA if they write too many prescriptions for Schedule II drugs.
Growing your own will also most likely be prohibited if marijuana is put in schedule II. For those who do cultivate their own, penalties could be significantly higher. Methamphetamines are on Schedule II but you can get way longer fines and jail times for its production then marijuana which is on Schedule I.
The one silver lining in the cloud with the usurious excise and weight tax bills is that a 2/3rd’s vote is required for the passage of any tax increases which is a fairly high bar. Republicans are supposed to be opposed to any tax increases. Hopefully they will feel that this opposition would also apply to marijuana, but whether it might be seen as a “sin” tax and hence appropriate for taxation even by Republicans remains to be seen.
Other bills passed by Senate and Assembly Appropriations Committees include AB 1575 which makes relatively neutral changes to MMRSA’s licensing and regulation requirements and AB 2516 which creates a new “cottage cultivator” license for smaller-scale cultivators.
The tax votes are going to be a close so it would be a good idea to undertake a bit of personal responsibility in preventing these taxes from happening by keeping any eye on these newsletters for the appropriate time and method to contact your state legislators.
Protect Your Access
at June MAPP Meetings
There could be no better way in the IE for you to affect state and local laws affecting medical marijuana patients and marijuana law reform advocates than to attend one of the three MAPP meetings being held in the first week of June. All three meetings feature presentations, discussions, networking and milk and cookies so take a couple hours and come to one of the meetings below.
Riverside/Western IE MAPP meeting – Wednesday, June 1 at 7:30 p.m.
On November 4, 2014, California voters passed Proposition 47, a law that changed certain low-level crimes from potential felonies to misdemeanors. The savings from reduced incarceration costs will be invested into drug and mental health treatment, programs for at-risk students in K-12 schools, and victim services. Individuals with a prior felony record for many low-level, nonviolent offenses or who are currently serving time may qualify to change their record or their sentence to a misdemeanor. Is it going as planned or is there problems as many police agencies are claiming? Vonya Quarles, Executive Director, Starting Over an organization will address the issue Is Proposition 47 Working? and will present the latest evidence plus provide information on how Starting Over is making Prop. 47 work.
The meeting takes place at THCF Patient Center, 647 Main St. Unit 4D, Riverside 92501. Everyone is invited to also attend the Brownie Mary Democratic Club meeting preceding the MAPP meeting at 6 p.m.
Palm Springs/ Coachella Valley MAPP meeting - Saturday, June 4 at 12 noon
Crystal Fantasy is presenting a Medical Cannabis Education Day with special showings and events. Our MAPP meeting is part of this special day with information on new research on the therapeutic benefits and uses of marijuana.
Meeting to be held at Crystal Fantasy, 268 N. Palm Canyon, downtown Palm Springs 92262. Everyone is invited to also attend the Brownie Mary Democrats meeting preceding the MAPP meeting at 11:30 a.m.
Yucca Valley/Joshua Tree MAPP meeting - Saturday, June 4 at 3 p.m.
I will be presenting an illustrated presentation on ASA’s Citizen Lobby Day along with an analysis of the future of state medical marijuana legislation with an in-depth discussion on my meeting with 42nd AD Assemblyman Chad Mayes.
Meeting to be held at the fabled Beatnik Lounge, 61597 Twenty-Nine Palms Hwy., Joshua Tree 92252.
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CLINTON VS. TRUMP
Is It Tweedledee or Tweedledum?
It seems all but certain that the Presidential nominees for the Democrats and Republicans will be Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Not exactly everyone’s favorite candidate but seems like they were the favorites of enough to be in the presumptive position of being their party’s nominee.
The position of both of these candidates on marijuana issues is somewhat illuminating and I do mean somewhat. Neither has taken a defining stand and have issued a few issue obscuring statements. The Marijuana Policy Project published a candidates’ guide early this year and if you want to see what they found out about Clinton and Trump CLICK HERE.
The big question here is how will these two Presidential-Want-A-Bes use this issue to advance their candidacy to the American voter and how will the marijuana issue effect their candidacies.
The answer to the above questions lies a lot with the media and what issues they chose to focus on. Will it be Clinton’s email imbroglio or Trump’s four bankruptcies? Maybe the media will actually look into their stance on issues that really matter – don’t hold your breath on that one.
If they do, marijuana has never made it on that list. Even though Colorado and Washington had legalization measures on their ballot in 2012, the question was most notable because of its complete absence. Even though California and at least four other states will most likely have legalization measures up for grabs, it may still be treated as the skeleton in the closet that no one wants to see.
There has never been an issue of such magnitude and cost in both terms of human lives and dollars spent than the War on Drugs and marijuana prohibition that has been so marginalized, trivialized and ignored. $50 billion a year, millions in prison, thousands dead, constitutional rights trampled and so much more and yet the size of a candidate’s hand gets more coverage – way more coverage.
Even if it continues to be treated as the bastard child in the attic by the media and the candidates themselves, the marijuana legalization issue could still play a decisive role in determining who wins the Presidency. The issue of marijuana legalization is a make or break issue for those in favor of ending marijuana prohibition but really isn’t for those opposed to legalization. Proponents will tend to overlook the position of a candidate on many other issues if they are in favor of legalization. Not so much for those opposed to legalization as other issues usually trump marijuana legalization.
We are not talking here of large percentages of the voters but in the neighborhood of 2 to 3% at most. In most races 2% is not enough to make a difference but in those all-important swing states 2% can be the different between victory and defeat. Swing states like Ohio, Colorado, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, Virginia, and Florida are too close to call and a shift of 2 to 3% can make turn a winner into a loser and a loser into a winner and the outcome of the Presidential election.
Right now neither Clinton nor Trump have a definitive positon on the issue that is going to cement the loyalty of marijuana voters. Whether the candidates issue defining position statements will have to do with the media and with pressure we are capable of exerting on them and the media to make this issue an issue.
The candidates are aware of the significance of this issue to a small, but significant number of voters, but talking positively about marijuana remains scary because of the ferocious opposition of law enforcement and government agencies whose lifeblood depends on the continuation of the War on Drugs and the $50 billion dollars taxpayers fork over every year to pay their six-figure salaries. So the candidates talk criminal justice reform and other not-quite-so-threatening rhetoric but never get into the specifics of just how criminal justice reform will be achieved.
The only major party candidate who has really come out strongly and specifically on our side is Bernie Sanders who has introduced a bill in congress to remove marijuana completely from the Controlled Substances Act. Ms. Clinton has only said she supports medical marijuana and that marijuana should be moved from Schedule I to Schedule 2 to in order to facilitate research. Donald Trump has not said anything about removing or rescheduling. The key to ending marijuana prohibition is the complete removal of marijuana from the CSA and only Sanders gets it.
Sanders has also stated he would vote for the legalization initiative in Nevada and just last week said "If I were a citizen of California, I would vote to legalize marijuana.”. Unfortunately Sanders doesn’t vote in Nevada or California and they are not betting on him in Nevada to win the Democratic nomination either.
Sanders is going to the Democratic convention in Philadelphia with a lot of clout with all the delegates he has accumulated and more importantly the overwhelming support of young voters which the Democratic Party absolutely needs if it is to win the Presidency and especially retake control of the U.S. Senate. I doubt however if he is going to use that clout to push the party and Clinton in more supportive direction on the marijuana issue. Income inequality, campaign finance reform and climate change are at the top of his list and as much as I would like to see marijuana at the top, I cannot in good conscious argue that marijuana law reform is more important than those.
From the few statements on marijuana made by both Clinton and Trump, it seems like they will both continue the Obama administration’s essentially hands off policy in states that have enacted recreational and/or medical legalization as long as the states have strong and effective state regulatory programs. With MMRSA and possibly AUMA in place, California will have those strong and unfortunately onerous regulations in place.
Federal police agencies have so traumatized Americans over the last 75 years with their reefer madness stories of murder and mayhem that people are understandably cautious in voting for any laws allowing implementation of marijuana distribution. Clinton and Trump are but reflections of this squeamishness, so maybe we shouldn’t be too harsh on them, but they want to be our leaders and they should not be timid about leading on this issue – especially considering that polls show upwards of 55% of Americans support legalizing marijuana.
We are not the 99% but we are the 2 to 3% and the majority of the 99% now supports us. We can make the difference in who occupies the oval office come January 2017.
I would be remiss if I did not mention former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson and our own Judge Jim Gray who are seeking the Libertarian Party nomination for President. These two are without any doubt stalwarts of ending marijuana prohibition and the War on Drugs. With the dissatisfaction of millions of voters with the choice of either Clinton or Trump, these two are certainly a viable alternative.
It is a shame and speaks how rigged our electoral system is that these two do not get the recognition they and the American voter deserve.
Speaking of elections I would like to put in a plug for my candidacy to represent the 42nd Assembly district on the Riverside County Democratic Central Committee – the grassroots of the Democratic Party in Riverside County. The 42nd District runs from Hemet to Beaumont and then down the I-10 Freeway to LaQuinta. If you are a Democrat and live in the 42nd Assembly District, you will find my name in the list of candidates for the Riverside County Democratic Central Committee. You can vote for up to six candidates, but it is perfectly OK to vote for only one and I would sure appreciate being at least one of your votes.
For more information about my candidacy and to obtain a flyer to distribute to other voters in the 42nd Assembly District CLICK HERE. Thanks for your help and support.
on Drug Policy
or Major Disappointment
on Internet Radio Show
The long awaited and much anticipated UN General Assembly’s Special Session on Drugs came in with a bang and went out with a whimper and you can hear all about the bang and the whimper on the newest edition of Marijuana Compassion and Common Sense at www.blogtalkradio.com/marijuananews. Drug law reformers were looking to use this Special Session to develop a new direction using harm reduction protocols and doctors, nurses and social workers for dealing with drugs rather than the criminal justice system with their cops, attorneys and prison guards.
The cops won.
What lead up to the Special Session, what happened at the Special Session, what were the results of the Special Session and what comes next after the Special Session will be discussed and reviewed by Michael Krawitz, Director and Founder of Veterans for Medical Cannabis Access and Dale Gieringer, Director of CaNORML.
Krawitz and Gieringer were in attendance at the Special Session participating with hundreds of other NGOs and drug law reform advocates. Hear their eye-witness reports on the ground-level action and interactions as Marijuana Compassion and Common Sense TAKES YOU THERE. To listen to the show now CLICK HERE or go anytime 24/7 to www.blogtalkradio.com/marijuananews.
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TAKE IT ON
THE CHIN AGAIN
Taxes, More Taxes
& More Damn Taxes
Making Us Into Criminals Again
This is not good news as two bills taxing mmj and one imposing a DUI per se on drivers have successfully passed their first committee votes on their way to the Senate and Assembly floors.
Senate Bill 987, the Marijuana Value Tax Act sponsored by Mike McGuire (D-Healdsburg), imposes a special 15 percent statewide tax on medical marijuana sales.
This tax would be in addition to any currently existing state and local sales taxes which, depending on the jurisdiction, are between 7.5 and 10%. Some cities and counties (and the number is growing) impose an additional local tax of up to 15% on medical cannabis. If this tax is passed mmj patients would be paying between an additional 25% to 35% in taxes on the purchase of marijuana at the retail level. Ouch!
AB 2243 by Assemblyman Jim Wood (D-Healdsburg) would impose a medical marijuana cultivation tax similar to the way alcohol is taxed, which depends on the potency of the product. The proposed tax would be $9.25 per ounce on medical marijuana flowers, $2.75 per ounce on leaves, and $1.25 on each immature plant sold to licensed distributors in the state. Double Ouch!
Dale Gieringer, Director of CaNORML, testified in opposition to both bills at legislative hearings stating "At this time when providers already face burdensome new costs under the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act (MMRSA), it is unwise and inappropriate to impose any new state tax on medical marijuana.”
McGuire's tax would be collected when sold to consumers, whereas Wood's proposed cultivation tax would be collected at the distributor level. In either case, the tax would be borne by the consumer. If both taxes go into effect, many medical marijuana patients will turn to the criminal market to obtain their marijuana where prices could be half what the retail market would be forced to charge.
The Medical Marijuana Regulatory and Safety Act (MMRSA) enacted by the legislature last year to regulate medical marijuana did not include additional taxation on retail sales or cultivation. With the additional fees and other requirements required by MMRSA there is no need or justification for the imposition of any additional taxes or fees on medical marijuana.
Since a 2/3 vote is required to approve any new tax, the enactment of these two tax measures is not a fait accompli especially considering that the Republican minority is supposedly opposed to any new taxes – whether that includes taxes on marijuana remains to be seen.
Adding insult to the injury of new taxes is AB 2740, a bill introduced by Assembly member Evan Low (D-Silicon Valley) which would make it illegal for anybody with five ng/mL or more of THC in his or her blood to drive.
This an absurd threshold for impairment that has no basis in science. Unlike a litany of scientific studies that show a nexus between an alcohol blood concentration of .08% and impairment, there is not one scientific study that shows any correlation between blood concentrations of THC and impairment. This bill is being pushed by law enforcement as a means to unfairly target marijuana consumers and by anti-marijuana drug warriors as a way to frighten uninformed voters to vote against marijuana legalization.
Our roads must be kept safe, but such arbitrary limits are not the answer. It is the same old same old – just as marijuana prohibition laws create hundreds of thousands of criminals but do nothing to make our communities safer, per se marijuana impairment laws criminalize innocent citizens and do nothing to make our highways safer.
THC can remain in a person’s system for weeks after its effects have worn off. Regular medical marijuana consumers can have active levels far in excess of the limit established in this bill, without affecting their ability to drive safely and coherently.
Studies by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have found there is no difference in the accident rate between drivers who use marijuana and drivers who don’t so there is no fire anywhere that needs to be put out. Our state legislators should cool their cop-inspired fever and wait for UC San Diego’s $1.8 million research project to try to find a more accurate way of determining impairment in drivers who have used marijuana.
Even though these bills have been vigorously opposed by Americans for Safe Access, CaNORML and a handful of other mmj advocates, every one of these bills have been passed by at least one legislative committee on their way to the floor for a vote. The fact that they have gotten as far as they have once again testifies to the impotence of mmj patients and providers to influence the decisions of our legislators.
Time for Us to Go to Sacramento
Since mmj patients and providers are not providing any significant funds to ASA, CaNORML or other mmj organizations to effectively lobby our legislators, it is up to us to do the influencing. A most excellent and effective way is on the horizon and that is for you to take a couple days of your valuable time to participate in ASA’s Annual Citizen Lobby Day on Monday, May 23 in Sacramento.
Every year hundreds of patients and providers descend on the state capitol during ASA’s Citizen Lobby Day to visit and lobby their elected state legislators to let them know directly that their constituents, the people who vote for them, expect them to protect their access to mmj even if that means defying the all-powerful cops and their puppets in the League of California Cities.
Other than throwing money at our elected officials for their re-election campaigns, the absolute most effective action an individual can undertake to convince state assembly members and senators of the merits or demerits of a bill is to visit/lobby them in their offices in Sacramento. They know you will be either voting for or against them and that as activist in your community you will be influencing the vote of many other people in his or her district. They are well aware of this and they do pay attention
Thanks to Americans for Safe Access (ASA) the opportunity to do this in a united and effective action is made possible by their annual Citizen Lobby Day in Sacramento. Every year MAPP has brought 15 or more patients to participate in ASA’s Citizen Lobby Day.
This year the Citizen Lobby Day is on Monday, May 23 where you can join with ASA and more than 300 patients, advocates, providers, industry works, and other stakeholders in face-to-face talks with lawmakers and regulators about patients' rights, taxation, and commercial regulation. There will be a continental breakfast at the Hyatt Regency Hotel on L Street, right across the street from the State Capitol Building where you will be a part of a special legislative briefing and citizen lobbyist training.
Special guest speakers include:
Lori Ajax, newly appointed Chief of the Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation
An-Chi Tsou, Senior Policy Advisor at the Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation
Steph Sherer, Executive Director of Americans for Safe Access
Don Duncan, California Director of Americans for Safe Access
After the legislative briefing and lobbying training you will receive lobby day materials for your visits to the offices of your state Senator and Assembly member that afternoon. ASA will do all the work to schedule an appointment for you to meet with your State Assembly member and Senator to talk about legislation that affects you, your family, friends and community.
Research shows that an in-person visit from a constituent like you is six times more likely to influence an undecided lawmaker than a visit from a paid lobbyist. That means you have a lot of power to shape the future of medical cannabis in California.
In addition to the bills mentioned above, there are over a dozen more medical cannabis bills pending in the State Legislature right now. If you do not talk to your representatives about these bills, they will only hear from medical cannabis opponents, law enforcement, and others who do not have your best interests in mind.
After the California Citizen Lobby Day is finished, participants will have a chance to mingle with lawmakers and each other at a special VIP Reception, while enjoying a panoramic view of the Capitol from the 15th floor of the Hyatt Regency Hotel. The reception is always a highlight of the lobby day.
This year’s Citizen’s Lobby Day in Sacramento on Monday, May 23 is going to be an informative, eventful, effective and thoroughly enjoyable. As we have done over the past four years, we have rented a van that will hold up to 15 people for the trip to Sacramento.
If you would like to join us for the trip to Sacramento, we will be leaving from the THCF offices in Riverside on Sunday, May 22 at 9 a.m., arriving in Sacramento around 6 p.m. We have reserved rooms at a nearby motel. After checking in, we will go to dinner.
After dinner there is an optional Comedy Show at a nearby club that ASA will be participating in and for those who want to attend, we will get you there and back to the motel.
On Monday morning, we will go to the Hyatt Regency Hotel where the Legislative briefing is being held in the morning. From there you will go to the State Capitol where appointments will have been made for you to meet in the offices of your state assembly member and state senator.
After that we will attend the Closing Reception leaving Sacramento around 7 p.m. and returning to Riverside around 2 a.m. Tuesday, May 24.
The cost for the trip is $95 and includes transportation, one night’s lodging and all registration fees. The lodging is based on two people to a room. If you want to have your own room, that would be an additional $35. A continental breakfast is served Monday morning at the legislative briefing, but all other meals are on your own.
Scholarships are available for low-income patients and advocates. These are limited and in order to provide as many scholarships as possible, if you can provide part of the costs, it will allow us to provide more scholarships.
If you wish to drive up on your own, but want to stay with us and have your registration paperwork filed and fees paid would be $65 per person based on two people to a room.
Ask anyone who has ever gone on this trip before – it is educational, empowering, enlightening and extraordinarily FUN. To reserve your seat in the van and a room or just a room if you are driving up on your own, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send you a reservation and, if requested, scholarship form to fill out and return. Don’t wait too long – only 15 can experience the Sacramento or Bust Party Van.
SACRAMENTO TO PHILADELPHIA
Philadelphia is on the other side of the U.S.A. from Sacramento but like Sacramento where decisions are made that affect the entire state of California, decisions made there at the Democratic National Convention July 25 – 28 will affect the entire country and the world.
I would like to be one of the very very small cogs in that decision making process by being elected as a delegate to the National Convention and represent the interests and well-being of everyone in the 36th Congressional District with special emphasis on improving the health and well-being of the community through the re-introduction of cannabis.
And I need your help. Not asking for money – just a bit of your time on Sunday, May 1 for the Bernie Sanders Delegate Selection Caucus in Palm Springs.
Yes, I am running as a Bernie Sander Delegate and yes I recognize it isn’t likely that he will get the nomination, but although he may not win, his ideas and policies are certainly winning. Win or lose, he will win delegates at California’s June 7th primary and I would be so proud to be one of those delegates that goes to Philadelphia and votes for him and his ideas about not what will make America great again, but what will keep America great and make it greater.
The 36th Congressional District encompasses the area beginning in the west with Beaumont and extending down the entire Coachella Valley with the cities of Palm Springs, Palm Desert and Indio and ending on the eastern edge of Riverside County at the city of Blythe. If you live in the District I hope you might be able to take some time on Sunday, May 1 to come on down beginning at 2 p.m. to Canyon Estates Clubhouse, 2323 South Madrona Drive, Palm Springs, CA 92264.
Yes you must be a registered Democrat in the 36th District to vote BUT you can register right there at the Caucus Selection if you are not registered to vote and if you are registered as Not Affiliated with Any Party, you can register to join the Democrat Party right there. You can also switch your Party affiliation if you have a mind to do so.
Whether you live in the 36th Congressional District or not, I can still use your help as I need sign holders and wavers encouraging people to vote for me. Many of the people coming to vote only have one candidate in mind but will be able to vote for more than one. A large showing of supporters for my candidacy promoting the issues of marijuana legalization and ending the War on Drugs will engender a significant number to vote for me as well.
For a flyer about my candidacy to email to your friends and print out and distribute, please CLICK HERE. Whether you live in the 36th District or not, I need your help. If you can come out to Palm Springs on Sunday, May 1 beginning at 1:30 p.m. please send me an email at email@example.com. Make my day and help me get to the city of Brotherly Love and the 2016 National Democratic Convention.
WHERE THE MAJORITY
MMJ in Florida on
Internet Radio Show
The just released podcast of Marijuana Compassion and Common Sense at www.blogtalkradio.com/marijuananews goes to Florida where it seems the majority doesn’t rule. In 2014 Florida had a medical marijuana initiative on the ballot. Even though it obtained 58% of the vote, Florida law requires an initiative to obtain a super-majority of 60% to become law and it remains medically illegal.
As recent polling shows that over 70% of Floridians now support the legalization of Medical Marijuana, the proponents are back at it again and they just might upend Florida politics as usual in the process.
The United for Care Campaign is run by People United for Medical Marijuana (PUFMM) – an organization formed by Kim Russell, whose grandmother – ill with glaucoma – would not break the law, despite the medical benefits that marijuana could offer her condition.
Kim is still very involved working alongside PUFMM Chairman John Morgan, one of the state’s most influential attorneys and activists for the rights of individuals.
The show’s guest is Ben Pollara, campaign manager for United for Care, the organization working to approve medical marijuana in Florida. A veteran in Florida political affairs and advocacy, Ben has been involved in Democratic politics in Florida since 2002 and serves as a member of Hillary Clinton’s National Finance Committee. Ben is a partner at LSN Partners, a consulting firm in Miami, FL that provides advice and counsel in the areas of government affairs, government procurement, business development, and communications.
What happened in 2014 and what was learned to conduct a campaign in 2016 will be discussed. The likelihood of success and the role that a medical marijuana initiative will play in Florida’s Presidential campaign as well as other elective offices in the November election will be examined.
MAY 2016 MAPP MEETINGS
Circle the date on your calendar of the meeting nearest you
Topics and items for discussion announced in next newsletter
Wednesday, May 4 at 7:30 p.m. Riverside/Western IE MAPP meeting - THCF Patient Center, 647 Main St. Unit 4D, Riverside 92501. The Brownie Mary Democratic Club meeting takes place at 6 p.m. before the MAPP meeting. Everyone is invited to attend both meetings.
Saturday, May 7 at 12 noon – Palm Springs/Coachella Valley MAPP meeting - Crystal Fantasy, 268 N. Palm Canyon, downtown Palm Springs 92262. The Brownie Mary Democratic Club meeting takes place at 11:30 a.m. before the MAPP meeting. Featured speaker is J.R. Roberts, newly elected Palm Springs City Councilman. Everyone is invited to attend both meetings.
Saturday, May 7 at 3 p.m. - Morongo Basin/Joshua Tree MAPP meeting at the Beatnik Lounge, 61597 Twenty-Nine Palms Hwy., Joshua Tree 92252.
Join our 420 Club
Support Our Work in the IE
It's Where You Live
It's only 14 cents per day
CLICK HERE TO JOIN
Send a Marijuana Advocate to the 2016 Democratic Convention
Help Elect Coachella Valley medical marijuana and law reform advocate Lanny Swerdlow
to be a Delegate to the 2016 Democratic National Convention
Come Vote for Lanny on Sunday, May 1, 2106
and come to our private party afterwards.
You must arrive between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m.
If you arrive after 3 p.m. you will not be able to vote.
Voting open to all registered Democrats in the 36th Congressional District (Coachella Valley from Beaumont to Blythe. If you are not registered or registered but not affliated with any Political Party, you register to vote and register as a Democrat right then and there.
Canyon Estates Clubhouse
2323 South Madrona Drive
Palm Springs, CA 92264
Cross Streets/Landmarks: Cross: E Canyon Estates Dr.
Can Marijuana Save Desert Hot Springs?
Find out about the ultimate test at Wed. April 6 MAPP meeting
Desert Hot Springs is not doing well.
Desert Hot Springs has one of the highest rates of people living in poverty in the nation, with 31.99% of its population below the federal poverty line. The median household income is $31,075 compared to California’s median household income of $61,632. Per capita DHS income is $14,757 and California’s per capita income is $29,634. DHS unemployment rate is 7.4% while California’s is 5.7%.
In July 2015, the website Roadsnacks.com, after doing an analysis of 630 cities with populations over 5,000 in California, declared Desert Hot Springs as the worst California city to live in.
Adding insult to injury, the town is also bankrupt.
Can Marijuana save DHS? Some folks think that DHS is so far gone that even marijuana can’t save it – but the DHS folks are going to put it to the test.
With almost two million square feet of commercial marijuana grow operations authorized and at least 9 dispensaries licensed or in the process of being licensed, Desert Hot Springs is about to become one of the largest providers and suppliers of medical marijuana in California.
This is a totally strange twist of fate as back in 2008, I and other concerned citizens testified before the Desert Hot Springs City Council requesting them to implement an ordinance to allow dispensaries like Palm Springs was doing. Based on the advice of their city attorney and Chief of Police, they turned us down.
If they hadn’t, DHS would not be the basket case it is now. How this sleepy down-on-its-luck town is transforming itself with marijuana is an incredible story.
Jason Elasser, one of the principle organizers of Yucca Valley’s failed Measure X initiative, has received one of the commercial cultivation licenses from Dessert Hot Springs for operating a large scale marijuana growing facility in their industrial warehouse district. He is currently working with the city of Desert Hot Springs to host a Town Hall meeting to inform and educate the residents of Desert Hot Spring about the importance and positive impacts that marijuana will play in the transformation of that city.
Jason is our featured speaker at the April 6 MAPP meeting and will be speaking about what is happening in DHS, how it came about, the licensing system that is being set up, how it will operate and most interestingly how the town intends to transform itself from the windfall of tax dollars expected from marijuana cultivation facilities and sales through the town’s multiple dispensaries.
DHS will be taxing cultivation facilities at the rate of $10 per square foot. With upwards of two million square feet of cultivation taking place, DHS will take in $20 million annually. Their current annual city budget is just under $15 million. Get the picture?
Jason will also speak about what he is specifically licensed for and the type of cultivation facility he is setting up and hopes to have operational soon. He will also be providing information on the upcoming DHS Town Hall on April 20 (that’s right International 420 Day!) that everyone, whether they live in DHS or not, are invited to attend.
Every city in the Inland Empire and a lot of them throughout California are watching to see what happens to DHS. If marijuana can save and transform California’s most woe begotten city, then a lot of other cities will be seriously considering jumping on the marijuana bandwagon, and this time not to ban, but to license and regulation cultivation, production and sales.
This is going to be a most informative meeting – so plan on attending this Wednesday, April 6 at 7:30 p.m. at the THCF Patient Center, 647 Main St., Unit 4D, Riverside 92501. Plus enjoy our delectable assortment of cookies, milk and punch.
The Brownie Mary Democratic Club meetings takes place at 6 p.m. before the MAPP meeting. Everyone is welcome to attend this meeting - if you would like to learn more about getting politically involved, this is the meeting to attend. Pizza will be served, but it doesn’t last long, so be on time.
at San Bernardino Co.
Democratic Luncheon Club
Lanny Swerdlow is the featured speaker at the San Bernardino Democratic Luncheon meeting this Friday, April 8 at 12 noon. He will be giving an overview on all things marijuana – from medical to legalization. Everyone is invited to attend. You do not have to be a Democrat or even a registered voter.
The San Bernardino County Democratic Luncheon Club meets at the Democratic Headquarters in the Carousel Mall at 136 Carousel Mall (W. 2nd St. between E and G Streets), San Bernardino 92401. (Lower level near the central glass elevator.)
Although it is a luncheon club, lunch is not served. Eating lunch is not required, but if you want to have your lunch during the meeting (and that is the concept behind this club), you can bring your own or pick up some lunch at one of the restaurants in the mall. There is a small Chinese restaurant near where they meet and I have been informed the food is very good and inexpensive.
Become a 420 Club Member
and Help Us Do it!
Canada to Shake Up
UN Drug Forum
Forum takes place on
International 420 Day
From April 19 - 21, the long awaited and much anticipated UN General Assembly’s Special Session on Drugs will take place at the UN Headquarters in New York.
The genesis of this Special Session on drugs began back in April 2012 at the Summit of the Americas where drug policy reform was a major topic of debate for the first time in the Summit’s history. The following year in May 2013, the Organization of American States (OAS) issued a report, undertaken at the direction of a number of Central and South American leaders, supporting legalization as a viable alternative to the continued prohibition of drugs.
Thus began the process which eventually resulted in the upcoming 2016 UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on Drugs. This is unprecedented and has caught world-wide law enforcement off-guard - almost all of whom ravenously feed every year at the $100 billion+ pig trough of drug prohibition. Needless to say they are scrambling to regain an upper hand.
Drug law reformers, such as those who prevailed on OAS to bring this UN Special Session about, are looking to use this Special Session to develop a new direction using harm reduction protocols and doctors, nurses and social workers for dealing with drugs rather than the criminal justice system with their cops, attorneys and prison guards. This is in stark contrast to the last UNGASS meeting in 1998 where law enforcement was totally in control with self-serving calls for a “drug-free world” and concocted absurd and impractical goals to reduce drug production and use.
One of the major policy initiatives in the harm reduction direction was released on September 9, 2014, when the Global Commission on Drug Policy (GCDP) released their groundbreaking report, Taking Control: Pathways to Drug Policies that Work. The report calls for decriminalization, incarceration alternatives, increased emphasis on public health approaches and for permitting the legal regulation of drugs by nations that want to enact such policies.
The Commission is the most distinguished group of high-level leaders to ever call for such sweeping changes and includes former Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, former Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo, former Colombian President César Gaviria, former Swiss President Ruth Dreifuss, and Richard Branson, among others. It is the intention of drug law reforms to get the UNGASS meetierng to use the Global Commission’s report as a template for drug policy reform.
Now just one month before this earthquake of a UN conference begins, Canada has dropped a bombshell – one that apparently was welcomed with open arms.
At the Commission on Narcotic Drugs meeting in Vienna in March 2016, Hilary Geller, Assistant Deputy Minister of Health, stated that the new Canadian Liberal Government headed by Justin Trudeau will be moving away from the American War on Drugs policies, open more safe-injection sites for drug users, promote harm reduction policies and legalize marijuana.
Rather than jaws dropping to the floor and stunned into silence, the National Post of Canada reported that attendees at the conference, made up of government and non-governmental organization officials from around the world, “erupted in applause” mid-way through the address and gave a prolonged ovation.
Jason Nickerson, a research scientist attending the conference from Ottawa’s Bruyère Research Institute, told Post reporters that Geller’s presentation was at odds with the policies of the former Canadian government of Stephen Harper whose policies closely followed those of the United States implementing mandatory-minimum jail sentences and beefing up police narcotics enforcement. Harper’s Conservative Party government also opposed harm reduction programs which focus on prevention rather than prosecution and refused to condemn the death penalty for drug offences, imposed by countries such as Iran and Indonesia.
At the conference Geller emphasized that her government opposes capital punishment “in all cases.”
Donald MacPherson, executive director of the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition, said that Geller’s stance is a “180-degree” turnabout and that “It was very moving for the Canadians in the room, people who have been working on this issue for 10 years in a context where Canada has been more aligned with China and Russia and Pakistan.”
As Nickerson, who supports more liberal policies, pointed out “There are some countries here that are coming out and saying important, progressive things, but it’s certainly not as explicit as what Canada is saying.”
Will this conference result in the repeal of Henry Anslinger’s pet UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs Treaty that has impaled humane and rational reform on the altar of Drug Prohibition? Probably not as the day before the conference where Ms. Geller made her presentation, a UN official had rebuked Canada for its moves to legalize marijuana, which it said violated the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs.
It is a start nevertheless and maybe, just maybe, there can be as much significant movement forward as there was at the recently concluded climate change conference in Paris. We can only hope that President Obama gets his mojo back on drug reform from when he was a U.S. Senator.
Obama needs to direct the U.S. Delegation to support the OAS and Canadian governments bid to end the criminalization of drug use by instituting harm reductions policies that can successfully reduce substance abuse while protecting civil rights, clipping the omnipotent wings of law enforcement, saving billions and billions of taxpayer dollars and bringing to an end the racist, inhumane and failed policies of the War on Drugs.
APRIL MAPP MEETINGS FEATURES
OUTSTANDING SPEAKERS &
April MAPP meetings feature outstanding presentations on marijuana in Desert Hot Springs, Drug Law Reform, Native Americans rescuing mmj and cops getting busted for eating candy at a marijuana dispensary.
Palm Springs/ Coachella Valley MAPP meeting - Saturday, April 2 at 12 noon
Positive Protection Public Policy is the template for Richard Gicomeng’s approach to drug policy reform where all laws in our society would be designed to protect the public rather than entrap innocent people and hold them accountable for ridiculous archaic restrictions that only weaken the American public. Richard points out that it was not the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 that reduced drug abuse, it was the education servicemen received during WWII on how to use drugs the right way for the right medical purpose that turned the 1940s and 1950s into the two decades of the 20th century when narcotics use was at its lowest.
Meeting to be held at Crystal Fantasy, 268 N. Palm Canyon, downtown Palm Springs 92262. Everyone is invited to also attend the Brownie Mary Democrats meeting preceding the MAPP meeting at 11:30 a.m.
Yucca Valley/Joshua Tree MAPP meeting - Saturday, April 2 at 3 p.m.
Jason Elasser, one of the principle organizers of Yucca Valley’s Measure X initiative, has received one of the commercial cultivation licenses from Dessert Hot Springs for operating a large scale marijuana growing facility in their industrial warehouse district. He is currently working with the city of Desert Hot Springs to host a Town Hall meeting on April 20 to inform and educate the residents of Desert Hot Spring about the importance and positive impacts that marijuana will play in the transformation of that city. Jason will be speaking about what is happening in DHS, what he is specifically licensed for and will be doing as well providing information on the upcoming DHS Town Hall meeting that everyone, whether they live in DHS or not, are invited to attend.
Meeting to be held at the fabled Beatnik Lounge, 61597 Twenty-Nine Palms Hwy., Joshua Tree 92252.
Riverside/Western IE MAPP meeting – Wednesday, April 6 at 7:30 p.m.
Native-Americans providing mmj to patients and candy thieving cops in a mmj dispensary will be the focus of the presentation by Marla and David James. The activist couple have been working with a Native-American tribe to solve the distribution problems that have plagued medical marijuana patients. They were also caught up in a malicious raid on a mmj collective in Santa Ana where the cops were caught feasting on presumably mj edibles. The cops have now been indicted for stealing candy bars. Watch for the next newsletter where more information on their presentation, including a special speaker, will be presented.
The meeting takes place at THCF Patient Center, 647 Main St. Unit 4D, Riverside 92501. Everyone is invited to also attend the Brownie Mary Democratic Club meeting preceding the MAPP meeting at 6 p.m.
An assortment of delectable cookies and milk will be served at all 3 meetings.
Greedy Investors in MJ Stocks vs.
Savvy Investors in MJ Organizations
The Marijuana Anti-Prohibition Project (MAPP) is just a small local Inland Empire organization with the distinction of being the oldest active medical marijuana patient support group and marijuana law reform organization in the IE.
MAPP began in December 1999 with its first meeting at a small headshop called the The Hemp Store in Desert Hot Springs. We have always been local and have never had aspirations to grow beyond the IE. The IE is a big enough pond to deserve one organization devoted entirely to IE issues surrounding marijuana. I am proud that MAPP has been that organization for the last 16 years.
As for the closure of our bank account, it sure says a lot for the omnipotent power of banks when they can close an account, with what appears to be complete impunity, for no other reason than they do not approve of the organization’s goals. The denial of financial services can be the death knell of an organization such as groups like NORML which rely on contributions made from all over the U.S. (a substantial sum of NORML’s contributions comes from credit card charges via their website).
Fortunately MAPP has such a small financial footprint that the closure is more an affront to decency than it is to MAPP’s existence. Our finances are a trifling – less than $250 monthly - mainly costs associated with our phone, website, radio show and meetings. These costs are covered each month by donations made at the meetings, small donations made at our website and by members of our 420 Club.
Once in a while we undertake a larger project that costs a bit more – like sending a contingent of 12 – 15 medical marijuana patients to Sacramento to participate in Americans for Save Access’s Citizen’s Lobby Day. These costs are substantially covered by a very select group of donors who over the years have generously underwritten these special projects. If you would like to join this “select” group of donors, I look forward to hearing from you.
At this point I would like to segue for a moment to a fascinating article that I read last week with the headline:
Marijuana Investors Lost $23.3 Billion in Penny Stocks Last Year
Published online by Motherboard, a news service operated by the expanding and growing Bill Maher produced VICE media, the article was totally mind blowing reporting that in 2014 over $23.3 billion went up in smoke in essentially worthless marijuana stocks and no one even got a buzz.
This figure is amazing especially considering that the total of all legal sales of marijuana in the US, according to data released by the ArcView Group, an organization which specializes in tracking cannabis markets, was $2.7 billion in 2014 and $5.4 billion in 2015.
There is more money being spent in the U.S.A. on what are presumably legal marijuana stocks than is being spent on legal marijuana. Granted significantly more is spent on illegal marijuana – no really knows how much with estimates running from $10 billion to $120 billion – but still whoever would have thought that people would invest $23.3 billion on something that is federally illegal and legally problematic at best on the state level.
Here is what is going on according to the article:
Investors in small cannabis companies lost $23.3 billion in 2014 because shady stock promoters are capitalizing on the slow tide of legalization in the US by manipulating the penny stock market with “pump and dump” schemes.
Penny stocks are stocks in small companies that trade for less than five dollars apiece. They’re quoted and traded on dealer networks like OTC Markets because they don’t meet the requirements to be traded on more formal exchanges like the New York Stock Exchange. They’re also extremely volatile. Shady stock promoters capitalize on this volatility by convincing others to buy stock in worthless companies to increase their value temporarily—the “pump”—before selling them—the “dump”—leaving naive investors holding the bag…
To read the full article CLICK HERE
I wonder how many of these people who invested in and lost $23.3 billion in penny marijuana stocks ever gave a dime to an marijuana organization. If that $23.3 billion had been given to organizations like NORML MPP and DPA, marijuana would now be legal across the nation and those stocks might actually have been worth something.
Now to seamlessly segue back to MAPP, I received an email about this article in which the correspondent wrote “this sort of craven greed creates an opportunity for public interest organizations to promote their form of advocacy instead - e.g. our method of progress might be slow but at least we won't defraud you."
MAPP is slow but steady and doesn’t need a billion dollar investment to continue its mission in the IE, but would you be willing to risk an investment of 14 cent a day in MAPP by joining our 420 Club and donating $4.20 a month. I would point out that all donations to MAPP keeps your money local - all contributions are used locally for local projects – supporting MAPP supports your local community and you.
The 420 Club donations are made through PayPal which has not closed our account. All funds will remain safely in our PayPal account until as such time as a new bank account is opened. I guarantee a new account will be opened even if we have to change the acronym for MAPP from Marijuana Anti-Prohibition Project to Mothers Against Philandering Politicians (if you have suggestions for a new acronym for MAPP without the “scare” word marijuana, please send them to me).
As an added incentive to start investing 14 cents a day in MAPP, we will use a rational portion of these funds that you most generously contribute to celebrate the opening a new bank account and re-entry into the financial services world with a party - cannabis friendly of course.
14 cents a day – that’s all it takes to Join Our 420 Club and to show your support and confidence that MAPP will continue on in spite of the dastardly actions of J.P. Morgan Chase Bank. Plus it’s gonna be a really swell party.
To join the 420 Club, CLICK HERE. Your contributions are greatly and sincerely appreciated.
Chase Bank Closes MAPP
Account Because It
Supports MJ Legalization
Last Wednesday I went to the MAPP account on Chase.com website to pay our monthly phone bill. Only when I got to the webpage the MAPP account was no longer there. My own personal account and the account of the Brownie Mary Democratic Club of Riverside Co. was there as was my Chase VISA charge card, but MAPP had vanished.
I immediately called Chase Customer Service and was informed that Chase had closed the MAPP account. We have had this account for over 12 years and have never had any problem with it before - not that some tellers weren’t curious about just what the Marijuana Anti-Prohibition Project was – they certainly were and they all thought it was really cool.
When the Customer Service representative could not provide me with any information on why the account was closed, I asked to speak with someone who could. After about five minutes of poor quality telephone music I was connected to a Joey Pestano who identified himself as a Supervisor, but didn’t explain just what he was supervising.
He was not exactly the friendliest person I have spoken with on a company’s customer service line as he tried to justify Chase refusing to inform me as to why they closed the account by saying:
"We have the right to not give out the information on why we are closing your account. We have conducted a review of each and every account and have found that somehow we find risk and it is our right not to tell you what that risk is. The decision made by entire Chase Company. I did not make the decision. We cannot tell you who in Chase made the decision to close your account."
Banks have been notorious for making it impossible for marijuana dispensaries, whether it is for medical or adult recreational use, to utilize the normal banking services that a business needs to provide safe, efficient and above-board service to their clients. Hiding behind the rube that some federal banking agency would shut them down if they dared to provide any kind of bank services to a distributor of marijuana, they have endangered the lives of a dispensary’s employees and clientele by forcing them to deal with cash.
Chase, BofA, Wells Fargo and so on all run around like chickens with their heads cut off proclaiming that they would lose their banking license or whatever it is the feds give them if they dared to allow a marijuana business to use their banking services. What incredible bullshit and I am amazed that no one in the media has called them on it.
The federal government did everything it possibly could do to keep these banks open when the 2008 meltdown sent the country into the brink of a depression thanks in large part to the sub-prime and other predatory lending schemes that banks had concocted to rob the American public.
When it blew up in their collective faces and they were threatened with bankruptcy and closure, the feds pumped hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars into them to keep them from closing. Does anyone really think for one second that the federal government, after spending hundreds of billions to keep them open, would then close down Wells Fargo, Chase, BofA or any of the other banks that was on the verge of collapse if they provided banking services to marijuana businesses that were legal under state law?
Whatever the reason was, it was NOT because the banks would get closed down for providing services to marijuana dispensaries. What’s the actual reason? Keith Stroup, founder of NORML, says it is reefer madness. Maybe, but I believe pressure is being applied to these banks to purposefully and willfully undermine the ability of dispensaries to operate and provide marijuana. I have suspicions of who it is (DEA? ONDCP?) and they are now rearing their medusa head again. This time not just against businesses that provide marijuana under state law, but now to organizations whose purpose is to end marijuana prohibition – which, if legalization nationwide came about, would considerably diminish their ability to arrest, prosecute and imprison people. thereby lessening their power and congressional appropriations.
CALL MR. ROBERSON OF CHASE
AND TELL HIM HOW
UNRIGHT THIS IS
I received a call on Friday, March 11 from a Mr. Reginal Roberson. Mr. Robertson is an Executive Specialist with the Office of the CEO of Chase. He informed me that the bank will not re-consider its decision to close the account and will continue to refuse to provide any reason for the closure.
I would strongly encourage you to call Mr. Roberson at 877-658-5560 ext. 1299033 and tell him to let the CEO of Chase know that it is wrong to close the account of a totally legal organization because Chase opposes marijuana legalization. It wouldn’t hurt to add that you will not do business with Chase, will encourage others not to do business with Chase and if you have a bank account with Chase, your have decided to close your account and move it to another bank.
If you do call, I would appreciate it if you would send me an email with his response to your call. I am maintaining a detailed account of everything that is happening and I would like to include the response to your phone call in this account.
The week before Chase closed the MAPP bank account, NORML had its credit card processing services canceled. See the article at the end of this blog for information on what happened to NORML.
Like NORML, MAPP does not sell, distribute or in any was deal with marijuana itself. MAPP is a medical marijuana patient support group and law reform organization that works within the legal and political system to end marijuana prohibition.
Chase Bank seems to believe they have the right to deny financial services to a person or organization because they disagree with their political position on a legal issue. I wonder if a federally chartered bank can deny financial services for that reason. They could not do it for race, ethnicity or religion. Is it a free speech violation of the first amendment for a federally chartered bank to deny its services to legal applicants if it doesn’t approve of their message?
The question is why are so many financial institutions doing this as neither NORML and MAPP are doing anything illegal. Is this their own decision to undermine us or is some backroom power (DEA? ONDCP?) putting pressure on them to pull the financial rug out from under the marijuana law reform movement?
I want to find out and to that end I have contacted Congressman Raul Ruiz's office, Senator Barbara Boxer and Senator Feinstein's office. At the suggestion of Steven Nagy of Senator Boxer’s office, I have filed complaints with Office of the Controller of the Currency and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. In hopes of bringing some public attention to this despicable display of power to undermine our movement, I have sent out press releases to over a hundred reporters and media outlets.
Like Citizens United, it is fundamentally inconceivable and a threat to democracy that banks should be allowed to be the
gatekeepers of which ideas will have the
ability to be promulgated to the American public.
Want to do something about it?
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 760-799-2055 to help.
Lanny Swerdlow, RN LNC
Here’s a report on NORML's banking problems from the Extract website by Emily Gray Brosious.
Is “prejudice against marijuana” to blame
for NORML’s financial services termination?
The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), one of the oldest and largest nonprofit, pro-marijuana legalization public interest lobbies in the United States, has lost its donation processing services — and NORML founder Keith Stroup says marijuana prejudice is to blame.
According to Stroup, NORML “abruptly” lost its ability to accept credit and debit card donations last week after the company that processes its donations, TransFirst, discovered NORML’s pro-legalization advocacy work.
As a nonprofit that largely depends on donations made through its website, this “glitch presents a serious threat to the organization,” Stroup wrote in a blog entry the previous Monday.
TransFirst said it ceased processing NORML’s web donations because the group is part of the “marijuana industry,” according to Stroup. He counters that NORML is a public interest lobby with no financial stake in the marijuana industry.
Stroup believes NORML is being denied business services “simply because we have a website that promotes the legalization of marijuana. I am angry that some mid-level executive at TransFirst was able and willing to disrupt our work at NORML based on the content of the advocacy on our website. That represents a totally unnecessary act – there is no theory under federal law that would penalize a company for providing financial services to NORML – and one that smacks of anti-marijuana prejudice that is reminiscent of the days of “reefer madness. We are being penalized for our political views.”
Stroup says NORML is now looking for a new financial services provider “that will not be frightened by our political views.”
TransFirst did not immediately return Extract’s requests for comment.
Commenting on the despicable action, Dale Gieringer of CaNORML stated:
“This is by no means the first time that reformers have been denied financial services for marijuana advocacy. Cal NORML was similarly ostracized by PayPal, and a well-known MMJ advocacy group was inexplicably turned down by a succession of banks.
Not just financial services are at issue when it comes to anti-MJ bigotry. NORML's website is inaccessible at many institutions that patronizingly block "drug-related" internet content, including hospitals, libraries and even news services.”
Being Wrong Can Sometimes
Be Better Than Being Right
Sometimes it is really good to be wrong and my take on what would happen at the Temecula City Council meeting last week couldn’t have been further off the mark. I am thrilled to have been so misinformed.
I wrote that Temecula Mayor Michael Naggar “is staunchly opposed to medical marijuana and is quite capable of browbeating the other council members to his way of thinking.”
At the meeting however, Mayor Naggar recounted personal stories of people he knows who benefited from medical marijuana use and came out fully in favor of its use and for patients to at least be able to grow their own. No browbeating was necessary for the council to vote to adopt the Riverside Co. ordinance as the cultivation ordinance for the city of Temecula.