Friday, August 31, 2012

Seattle Dispensaries Dig In Despite DEA Shutdown Letters

Though the effect of the feds' attempts to close 23 dispensaries in the Seattle area have prompted some to close, other dispensaries are planning on disputing their allegations and defending their rights as businesses.

KOMO reports that the Coalition for Cannabis Standards and Ethics held a closed door meeting with its members, who were vocally upset, frustrated and expressed fear over the letters from the Drug Enforcement Agency and the U.S. Attorney's Office. The letters demanded the affected dispensaries shut down and their landlords order them to vacate their storefronts.

The DEA claims the businesses are within 1,000 yards of schools, parks and other facilities meant for children. They've given the 23 dispensaries 30 days to close or face criminal prosecution.

John Davis, CEO of Northwest Patient Resource Center, defended the medical marijuana industry. He said, "We pay our taxes. We employ citizens of Seattle. We go to great lengths to make sure we are compliant with state law, and even going above and beyond."

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Feds Claim they're Thinking About the Kids in Seattle. But Not so Fast, Says takes a closer look at the DEA and U.S. Attorney's crackdown on 23 dispensaries in the Seattle area.

Though medical marijuana's been legal in Washington state since December 1998, the recent crackdown by the feds were done under the auspices of that oh-so-common excuse, "Won't someone think of the children?"

The motivation for moving to close the dispensaries, as announced in a joint DEA/U.S. Attorney press release, was because they were open within 1,000 yards of high school.

In a self-congratulatory statement, U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan said, "We all work hard to create a safe zone for kids in school. We need to enforce one message for our students: Drugs have no place in or near our schools."

To be fair, this is true. Medical marijuana has nothing to do about high schoolers getting high and like alcohol and cigarettes, some kind of minimum age threshold has to be agreed upon. Teenagers under the age of 18 would not meet anyone's definition of "old enough."

However, a whopping 91 percent of high school students claim they can find and buy marijuana in their own school. It raises the question of why any high school student would hike more than a mile for some pot, when they can probably score during study hall. Also consider that medical marijuana has even more hoops and regulations for patients to jump through for a prescription than just buying beer or a pack of Camels with a fake ID.

Though anti-pot crusaders claim that legalization of pot leads to more supply for high schoolers, studies have shown that the amount available for purchase to high schoolers is no more than what's available to those in areas where there are no laws that allow cannabis use, recreational or medicinal.

The site predicts that things will get even uglier for Washington in the fall, when legalization efforts ramp up for the election.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Law to Shield Overdose Victims and Those that Assist them Passes California Assembly, Senate

With about 10 deaths a day from substance abuse in the state, California Assemblyman Tom Ammiano introduced legislation to shield the victim and anyone who assists the victim from drug possession and for being under the influence when seeking medical assistance, the L.A. Times reports.

Ammiano is a progressive voice in California's drug policy, and has gone on record for his support of medical marijuana and questioned federal prosecutors for their role in shutting down dispensaries.

"I'd rather have my kid around to yell at than to attend his funeral," Ammiano said.

The bill, Assembly Bill 472, has passed both the California Assembly and Senate. Surprisingly, the measure has drawn support from law-and-order minded Republicans as well. has quoted Republican Assemblyman Donald Wagner as saying, "This is not going soft on crime." He added that he does not approve of drug use, but the bill is necessary to "overlook some indiscretions for the greater good."

The site also has Assemblywoman Kristen Olsen, also a Republican, going on record with this: "It’s critically important to save lives. This bill doesn’t condone drug behavior."

Monday, August 27, 2012

California Supreme Court Dismisses Review of Dispensary Case, Could Throw City Bans into Jeopardy

The California Supreme Court added another contradiction to the state's medical marijuana landscape. What's the best way to describe the new wild, wild West of medicinal cannabis? Confusing, though even that would be understating the current situation.

Though voters approved the medical use of marijuana and though most citizens seem to have no problems with the medical marijuana dispensaries that have sprung up in California's major cities, lawmakers on the local level and law enforcement officials on the federal level are determined to shut down access. Pack v. City of Long Beach is a recent example.

A medical marijuana dispensary defended itself in court by asserting that federal drug laws trumped municipal laws regulating dispensaries because marijuana is still illegal at a national level. The court agreed with the dispensary but cities used the decision to justify wholesale bans on the storefronts.

However, the California Supreme Court dismissed review of the case's appellate court ruling. This means that cities (including Los Angeles) that have used the Pack ruling as justification for wholesale bans on dispensaries face the possibility of their laws being nullified. reports:

The reasoning used to dismiss the Pack case was that after the California Supreme Court decided to review the appellate decision, the Long Beach City Council repealed and replaced the ordinance with an outright ban on dispensaries thereby making moot the issues before the court. In addition, the petitioners in Pack "have now abandoned their federal preemption argument in favor of unrelated issues not raised or decided at any prior stage of this proceeding," according to the court.