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.