Friday, May 18, 2012

Pro-Marijuana Candidate Wins Oregon's Democrat Attorney General Ticket, Pot Groups Take Credit

While getting tough on drugs is a tried and true strategy to winning an election, pro-marijuana groups are being credited for playing a decisive role in the primary victory of Democrat Ellen Rosenblum for Oregon's attorney general race.

Rosenblaum, a former judge, promised to prioritize enforcement of marijuana laws at the bottom of Oregon's law enforcement duties. Her opponent, former U.S. Attorney Dwight Holton, called the state's medical marijuana laws a "train wreck" and shut down growers and collectives.

Pro-marijuana organizations, such as the Drug Policy Alliance and Citizens for Sensible Law Enforcement, contributed to Rosenblaum's campaign war chest.

Holton was an early favorite for the nomination, but Rosenblaum pulled in 64 percent of the vote, compared to Holton's 36 percent. Rosenblaum downplayed the role of the pro-marijuana groups, though The Seattle Times reports they were ecstatic with the results.

Ethan Nadelmann, executive director Drug Policy Alliance and its campaign branch, Drug Policy Action, said, "What we're hoping, and what we assume, is that any U.S. attorney who's thinking of running for statewide office in a Democratic Primary anywhere in the country is going to think twice now before adopting a highly aggressive posture toward the medical marijuana law."

Thursday, May 17, 2012

L.A. City Council Shoots Down Koretz Plan to Keep Dispensaries Open

The Los Angeles City Council sent a medical marijuana proposal that would have left about 100 dispensaries open back to two committees, and advanced a competing proposal that would ban dispensaries outright.

Councilman Paul Koretz proposed to place regulations as to where and when dispensaries could operate as well as require tight security for the shops. The plan was praised by The Greater Los Angeles Collective Alliance said Koretz's eleventh hour plan was a "miracle" and they were grateful for his actions.

However, the council advanced a plan by Councilman Jose Huizar that allowed cultivation and direct distribution by "caregivers" but that would ban dispensaries. The plan was agreed upon in a closed session several weeks ago.

Koretz described Huizar's proposal to as a "vicious, heartless ban that would close all dispensaries and force the seriously ill and suffering patients to buy their medical marijuana on the black market if they're not able, which most would not be, to grow it in their homes."

Monday, May 14, 2012

L.A. City Council to Offer Limited Immunity to Select Collectives in 'Gentle Ban' as Alternative to Outright Ban

The Los Angeles City Council will take up a proposal to offer limited immunity to some medical marijuana collectives on Wednesday May 16.

The measure, introduced by council members Paul Koretz and seconded by Herb Wesson Jr., will have the city attorney draft a "gentle ban" on medical marijuana dispensaries, reports pro-pot advocate Brett Stone.

The proposal states: "The City has strived for more than seven years to strike a balance between carefully regulating medical marijuana facilities and assuring patient access to medication. The "gentle ban" would eliminate all medical marijuana dispensaries while still providing for distribution by licensed health care facilities and for home-based cultivation by patients and care-givers. This approach may result in a hardship for seriously ill patients who cannot cultivate at home and who lack access to a licensed health care provider or a care-giver who will cultivate for them."

The limited immunity of the Koretz proposal would apply to a group of collectives that met certain qualifications. However, failure to keep up with those conditions would forfeit the right for the collective to remain open.

It would also be applicable for a limited number of collectives and until certain court cases are decided and the ordinance is amended.

Sarah Armstrong, legal liaison for The Greater Los Angeles Collective Alliance. stated in an email to Stone that they were "over the moon" about the development.

"To have Koretz come in at the eleventh hour with a motion to put an ordinance back on the table is nothing short of a miracle and we are deeply grateful to him," she added. "Below is the motion. Note the language ' ordinance implementing that approach be presented to the Council as an alternate to the ban approved by the City Planning Commission.' (emphasis added)"