Friday, October 26, 2012

California Appeals Court OKs Medical Marijuana Defense for Dispensaries, Rules Members do Not Need to Grow Marijuana

Americans for Safe Access (through the SF Weekly) announced that the Fourth District Court of Appeal for California unanimously affirmed medical marijuana as a legal defense for dispensaries and reversed the conviction of San Diego dispensary operator Jovan Jackson.

Jackson's dispensary was raised twice; once in 2008 and another in 2009. He was acquitted the first time around, but Howard Shore, the San Diego Superior Court Judge for the second case, called medical marijuana "dope" and described the proposition that legalized medical pot "a scam." Jackson was found guilty and spent 180 days in jail.

The appellate ruling overturned the conviction. It also allows future medical marijuana operators to use medical marijuana as a valid legal defense. More importantly, the court decided that members of the dispensary or collective did not need to have an active role in the growing the plants.

"...the collective or cooperative association required by the act need not include active participation by all members in the cultivation process but may be limited to financial support by way of marijuana purchases from the organization," the court stated. "Thus, contrary to the trial court’s ruling, the large membership of Jackson’s collective, very few of whom participated in the actual cultivation process, did not, as a matter of law, prevent Jackson from presenting an MMPA defense."

Feds Raid 9 Dispensaries in Los Angeles, Orange County, Arrest 12

The Associated Press reports that federal law enforcement officials raided nine medical marijuana dispensaries in Orange County and Los Angeles County on Oct. 25. They also took 12 employees of the dispensaries into custody.

The 12 individuals were part of an grand jury indictment for drug trafficking. The storefronts supposedly generated "tens of millions of dollars in income," according to the article, and were not reporting it to the IRS.

Despite a voter-approved mandate that allows medical marijuana in California, the U.S. Attorneys do not recognize its legitimacy. Though the Los Angeles City Council tried, and failed, to pass a ban on the dispensaries, the federal government has initiated a crackdown on the Southern California area — despite the support of the law.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Shortcomings of Washington's I-502 in the National Spotlight

NPR's All Things Considered profiled the three states considering marijuana legalization, and put the unique problems of Washington's Initiative 502 in the national spotlight.

While the criticisms of the I-502 are well known to marijuana advocates on both sides of the intuitive in the states, it's one of the few times that its strange politics have been brought to a national audience.

On one side, Alison Holcomb, a criminal defense attorney and pro-I-502 organizer, is quoted as saying, "We've reached a place in our society, nationwide, where now a majority support marijuana legalization."

However it's the dissenting voices, particularly in the medical marijuana community, that may be a surprise to those outside of the state and those who aren't acquainted with the initiative. Steve Sarich, a dispensary owner, brings up the biggest sticking point of those who are against I-502 — the low THC threshold that would make almost all medical marijuana users guilty of driving under the influence, even when they're not.

Sarich is sure the push for legalization is an attempt by law enforcement to intimidate medical marijuana users with the THC threshold.

 "All they have to do is sit a half a block down the street and wait for me to pull away from the curb, and I'm going to jail for [a DUI]," he said.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Romney Takes Stand on Medical and Legalized Marijuana — And, Surprise, He Doesn't Support Either

While no one expects Mitt Romney to endorse marijuana in any form — be it for medical use or outright legalization — it's rare that a candidate will ever take a stand as clearly as he did on marijuana.

When a reporter for a CBS affiliate in Colorado pressed Romey for an answer about medical marijuana (she also asked about gay marriage and college tuition for children of illegal immigrants) he made it known he wanted to change the subject, but not before belittling the question.

“Aren’t there issues of significance you’d like to talk about," reported the Republican candidate as saying. "The economy, the growth of jobs, the need to put people back to work, the challenges of Iran? We’ve got enormous issues that we face. But go ahead, you want to talk about medical marijuana?"

The answer Romney ultimately gave with regards to medical marijuana was this: "I think medical marijuana should not be legal in this country. I believe it's a gateway drug to other drug violations. The use of illegal drugs in this country is leading to terrible consequences in places like Mexico, and actually in our own country. I oppose legalization of marijuana. I oppose legalizations of other kinds of drugs."

Romney's absolutist "Just Say No" stance is curious, however, because Colorado is a battleground state. Polls have found that Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson could potentially spoil the state for Romney because of his pro-marijuana platform.

See the interview here.