Weeding Out Pot Clubs

Weeding Out Pot Clubs
Posted by CN Staff on May 10, 2005 at 17:43:47 PT
By Ann Harrison
Source: San Francisco Bay Guardian
Calif. -- San Francisco planners have targeted five medical marijuana dispensaries they say may have opened after the 45-day moratorium on new clubs was approved. Two dispensaries have challenged the allegation, citing a lack of clear guidelines about what regulatory steps these quasi-legal businesses should have taken before setting up shop. City officials say dispensaries perceived as bad neighbors will be singled out first for enforcement action, and one flagged dispensary has called for the city to help it mediate a neighborhood dispute.
This first move to weed out dispensaries comes as political leaders and representatives from the medical marijuana community are trying to hash out new guidelines for the dispensaries, a difficult task likely to require at least one extension of the moratorium, which is set to end May 12. The Board of Supervisors is scheduled to vote May 10 (after the Bay Guardian's press time) to extend it another 60 days, and the measure is expected to pass. Charles Pappas, a medical cannabis patient who runs the Health and Wellness Alternatives dispensary at 935 Howard St., is hoping he can work out a dispute with neighbor Laura Weil, who represents a group of residents opposed to his dispensary. Pappas supports the moratorium but disputes Weil's claim that he opened after the cutoff date. Last week Pappas's landlord received one of the five letters sent by the Planning Department to dispensary operators and property owners asking them to submit a notarized affidavit saying they opened before the moratorium. The Ketama Collective dispensary, at 14 Valencia St., also received a letter, and counters that it too opened before the moratorium, an assertion city officials are challenging. "If you get your business license a month before you open your doors or sign your lease, that does not qualify as the day you opened," Sonja Kos, the planning enforcement official who signed the letters, said. The City Attorney's Office will evaluate the validity of the replies and will take action against dispensaries found to be in violation. "We are doing everything we can to shut them down," city planner Dan Sider said of confirmed post-moratorium dispensaries. "Clearly, they are not authorized." Weil said Pappas also failed to get a conditional-use permit and be subjected to a public hearing, both of which are required for most businesses in the area. But that is a hazy realm for most of the dispensaries that flooded into San Francisco and were faced with what they said were mixed messages from the Planning Department on permitting requirements. Sider says all but two of the city's 40-some dispensaries lack permits and are technically illegal. Some 20 dispensaries have attempted to get permits in recent weeks, but the moratorium has halted the issuing of permits to cannabis clubs. Sider says the clubs cannot be grandfathered in. It remains to be seen whether dispensaries are allowed to reapply for their permits, and under what conditions. Kos pointed out that "the canabis club owners are not being singled out. There are hundreds, maybe thousands of businesses in San Francisco that do not have proper permits." The current brouhaha over regulating the pot clubs became a high-profile fight after Mayor Gavin Newsom took issue with the opening of a club below the All-Star Hotel, which the city contracts to house formerly homeless addicts under the mayor's signature Care Not Cash program. The owner of that dispensary now claims he was treated unfairly by the city. Pat Knoop, operator of the Holistic Center, thought he was playing by the rules when he opened the dispensary below the hotel, on the ground floor between a donut shop and an appliance store. But after Newsom alleged that the dispensary was on city-controlled property, Knoop said his landlord was pressured to break his lease three days before the dispensary opened. Now he believes the city should grandfather him in and issue him a permit to open a new dispensary. "Not one person even came to talk to us," said Knoop, who claims he sank $30,000 of borrowed funds into the project. "We really thought we were going to have a model facility for the city, but I suspect the mayor didn't want to lose federal funding for Care Not Cash." The mayor was not available to comment, and the Planning Department disputes Knoop's claim that he was in full compliance. But the closure of the Holistic Center fueled the current push for clear dispensary regulations, and the moratorium on dispensaries was passed by city supervisors March 29. Sup. Ross Mirkarimi, who is spearheading the regulation effort, said the problems faced by Knoop and Pappas demonstrate why clear regulations are needed. "It has been confusing, and I am not surprised that people get caught in traps in the absence of information," Mirkarimi said. "That is why we need to regulate and regulate smartly." Mirkarimi said he's contacted Pappas and some of his neighbors to help resolve the conflict. He said Pappas appears to have performed due diligence on the moratorium requirements, and he's asked the Planning Department to unravel the dispensary's outstanding compliance issues. He wants to set up a citizen task force and/or appeals board to mediate neighborhood disputes. Note: In the face of a city crackdown, medical marijuana dispensary owners fight to remain open for business.Source: San Francisco Bay Guardian, The (CA)Author: Ann HarrisonPublished: May 10, 2005Copyright: 2005 San Francisco Bay GuardianContact: letters sfbg.comWebsite: Articles & Web Site:Medicinal Cannabis Research Links Full House for Pot Club Hearing Hearing Examines Options for Regulating Offers Plan To Regulate Pot Clubs 
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Comment #8 posted by FoM on May 18, 2005 at 08:36:33 PT
Related Article from The San Francisco Chronicle
Pot Club Moratorium Extended Supervisors to use the time to devise new regulations.Suzanne Herel, Chronicle Staff WriterWednesday, May 18, 2005 
 A San Francisco moratorium on new medicinal marijuana clubs has been extended for six months to give city officials more time to address the complex problem of regulating dozens of businesses that have been operating under the radar of city regulatory agencies. Snipped:Complete Article:
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Comment #7 posted by FoM on May 18, 2005 at 08:33:38 PT
Press Release from The Drug Policy Alliance
Medical Marijuana Patients, Advocates React to Bans on DispensariesWednesday, May 18, 2005State-wide moratoriums on California medical marijuana (cannabis) dispensaries have caused an uproar in communities dependent on receiving medical marijuana from these locations. In 1996, California voters passed Proposition 215, which legalized the use of marijuana for medicinal use. Since then, dispensaries have opened throughout the state to distribute the medicine to patients who provide a doctor’s recommendation. Most medical marijuana patients rely on these dispensaries to obtain their medication and while there is no fully legal means available to buy marijuana, dispensaries are the only viable option for a majority of patients, many of whom are elderly or disabled. An increasing number of city and county residents have complained of the presence of dispensaries in their neighborhoods, however, and city officials are not happy with the little to no regulation, spurring the recent moratoriums. Medical marijuana patients responded that they fear closing the dispensaries would drive legitimate patients to the black market, causing an increase in crime.From Alameda to Sutter counties, 40 cities and counties in California have imposed permanent and temporary bans on the operation of dispensaries. Americans for Safe Access (ASA) have filed a lawsuit to challenge Fresno's permanent ban on medical marijuana dispensaries. ASA contends that patients need to be able to consume the medicine on the premises for immediate relief and to avoid charges brought against them for use in their residence. ASA would also like city officials to create an oversight and arbitration committee with representatives of city agencies, patient groups, neighborhood groups and dispensaries to address grievances from area residents. Many dispensaries provide more than marijuana to patients; alternative health services such as yoga, massage, harm reduction, chiropractic care, veteran support groups, educational health forums and low-income women’s services are also available to people suffering from painful illnesses.ASA is providing a lobbying and media training to all patients and advocates interested in protecting dispensaries. For more information on attending this workshop, click here.
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Comment #6 posted by FoM on May 17, 2005 at 22:16:34 PT
Related Article from
SF Supes Approve Six-Month Extension On New Pot Club Ban May 17, 2005San Francisco --  The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted tonight in favor of extending a 45-day moratorium on new medical marijuana clubs for an additional six months, according to Boris Delepine, an aide to Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi.Supervisors first approved the moratorium on March 29 to allow them time to draft and adopt regulations addressing zoning, public health, planning and land-use issues surrounding pot clubs, according to Mirkarimi, who spearheaded the temporary ban and the effort to extend it."We need to prepare and develop a set of regulations that govern the existing clubs so there is clarity and consistency as to how they should conduct business," Mirkarimi said during a hearing on the matter last week. Mirakimi said regulations are being drafted to ensure that pot clubs are patient driven, that they're responsible in terms of their location and business practices and to ensure they are in good favor with their neighbors.Supervisors agreed during their meeting last week that the 45-day ban did not allow them enough time and opted to seek a six-month extension, which was formally approved tonight. Copyright 2005 by Bay City News
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Comment #5 posted by FoM on May 11, 2005 at 13:55:20 PT
West Hollywood Medical Cannabis Club Busted 
 West Hollywood Medical Cannabis Club Busted by LAPD and IRS – City of WeHo Upset by Raid By Ryan GierachWednesday, May 11, 2005After an eight-month investigation, LAPD narco squad officers and Federal Internal Revenue (IRS) agents raided a medical cannabis club operating in West Hollywood, arresting 14 people and seizing 800 pounds of marijuana product (wholesale value, $2.5 million; retail value over $5 million) and between $300-500,000 in cash.City officials both applauded and booed the bust by another jurisdiction’s law enforcement agency. “We support any law enforcement agency’s removing from our neighborhoods any business involved in illegal activity,” said Helen Goss, city communications director.But condemnation of the tactics buzzed through city hall. One city staffer told WeHoNews that he felt violated. Jeff Prang, city council member and a deputy sheriff himself decried the raid into the city from a neighboring city’s law enforcement agency, even though routine warrants are often served inter-jurisdictionally. “This was not routine in any way…I don’t want LAPD conducting any more of these raid in our city,” Mr. Prang said point-blank. “It is…the City council’s intention to act as arbiter of what is lawful in our community, not LAPD.”The targeted club, Compassionate Caregivers located at 1209 N. La Brea Ave and commonly known as the “Yellow House,” had been under surveillance by LAPD since September 2004 after the arrest of a Compassionate Caregiver patron with 60 marijuana plants in his possession, all allegedly purchased at Yellow House.According to LAPD spokesperson Sgt. Plows, that surveillance found that the club allegedly sold large amounts of marijuana to customers on a regular, sometimes daily, basis. State law forbids the sale of more than eight ounces of medical marijuana to a patient at one time.“We formed the opinion that the club was in violation of Health & Safety Code 11360 (transportation, distribution or importation of controlled substances) through the surveillance,” Sgt. Plows told “They regularly sold 8 ounce and one pound quantities to people who made sometimes daily buys. There were an average of 235 visits a day to the house. That’s drug dealing, not medicine dispensing.”Acknowledging that the IRS had been involved in the months’ long investigation, Sgt. Plow said, “The key to [IRS involvement] in this raid was the money-laundering investigation [the IRS] is conducting into these businesses. This one was obviously set up for profit, and the law says they should be non-profit.”LAPD arrested employees and patrons en masse and charged 13 people with felony counts of H&SC 11366 (maintaining a place for selling, giving, using controlled substances); one man allegedly holding 21 grams of marijuana but no letter of recommendation identifying him as a medicinal marijuana user was charged with a misdemeanor count of possession.Most of those arrested were bailed out the following morning and are being represented by West Hollywood lawyer Bruce Margolin. Mr. Margolin’s website states that he was “an advisor for the California Compassionate Use Act – Prop. 215...He is the author of “The Margolin Guide To Marijuana Laws” and is unarguably the nation's foremost authority on marijuana law.”Calls to Mr. Margolin, who is traveling, went unreturned before press time.Calls to the IRS went unreturned by press time as well.As to LAPD’s plans to crack down on the other six clubs still operating in West Hollywood, Sgt Plows told WeHoNews that no other clubs, so far as she had been told, were under surveillance by LAPD. “That doesn’t mean they aren’t surveilling, it only means they don’t tell me what they are doing,” she said. “This surveillance began with a lead from another arrest; LAPD has no plans to raid other clubs [in West Hollywood].”According to Kristin Cook of the city’s public safety staff, such inter-jurisdictional investigations are quite common, especially in drug cases. “This case was unusual because the ‘gentleman’s agreement’ that exists between agencies about prior notification of a major raid didn’t happen,” she said. “The city and the [Sheriff’s] station are displeased at the short notice we received.”Capt. David Long, chief of the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station, told that “they did give us a 15 minute notice as a courtesy and safety measure, but I would have liked a little bit more information and time before they came in.“I can’t say they won’t come in again, but we will see to it that they won’t come in without prior knowledge,” Capt. Long said.Ms. Cook acknowledged that discussions on the controversy had begun between municipalities. Sgt. Plows told that LAPD Chief William Bratton and Sheriff Lee Baca had already spoken about the raid and bettering inter-agency communication. “From our perspective,” Sgt. Plows said, “this was a routine raid until we found so much product and cash.”
Mr. Prang told that news of "so much product and cash" at the business heightened his concerns for the public’s safety, making it more urgent that regulations be put in place to protect the residents from the dangers a concentration of medical marijuana distributors posed.“When you have businessmen who keep that much marijuana and hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash, and guns, in their shops, they’re going to be targets for violent crime,” he said. “My concern is these guns near residential neighborhoods; money, drugs and guns invite disaster.”Susan Healy Keene, acting director of community development for West Hollywood informed that the first “all-hands” meeting of the committee put together to explore regulating medical marijuana facilities in the city would meet Wed., May 11 at city hall.
She said that the committee would look at a wide range of issues, including safety issues and neighborhood impacts, revenue assessments, among others. 
The founder of West Hollywood’s first opened – and first raided and closed – medical marijuana co-op, Scott Imler said, “It’s about time [the city] began putting some thought into this; this raid is the unfortunate result of their ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy since the LACRC raid (Mr. Imler’s co-op was shut down in 2001 by the Bush Administration; he escaped with a relative slap on the wrist – one year probation).“They got stung and are still dealing with a $300,000 lawsuit [with the Dept. of Justice over the raid], so it’s understandable that they would be reluctant to regulate. But now they are beset with all these clubs they know nothing about. They have to try to find out what’s going on inside them.”For Mr. Prang’s part, “this is an issue about which I and the entire council feel strongly. Patients ought to have access to the medicine they need. West Hollywood is a strong supporter of patients’ right to obtain medical marijuana. 
“We do not condone drug dealing in our city. We do not approve of otherwise healthy people abusing the system by obtaining letters from ‘pot docs’ to use medicinal marijuana recreationally,” he said. 
“We acknowledge that problems arise because of the rapid proliferation of these clubs in our small city, and we will regulate them so that they can provide their service and medicine safely in our community.”Seeking a response to those comments on public safety, WeHoNews made calls to the Medical Marijuana Farmacy, the club employing the most visible of the armed guards. Those calls were not returned. When approached the manager of the latter on the street for comment, she walked briskly away.
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Comment #4 posted by billos on May 11, 2005 at 03:59:56 PT
..........I did not know that...........
"Connecticut statute mandates that a surviving operator in an accident where someone sustains a serious injury or death must submit a urine sample"I live in this state and am a news junkie. Somehow, at sometime, the scumbag politicians wormed this into law.Anyone else have similar laws in their state that were covertly passed?The quest to capture and cage cannabis users is certainly getting more aggresive.
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Comment #3 posted by FoM on May 10, 2005 at 18:29:51 PT
You're welcome. They are going to do this to people! It's hurts just thinking about it. I don't even think a narcotic would eliminate the pain! What's next needles in our eyes!***Study participants were given cannabis and then injected under the skin with a derivative of hot chili pepper.
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Comment #2 posted by mayan on May 10, 2005 at 18:26:11 PT
Thanks for the 10News article, FoM. It's a shame we have to do studies to find out what we've known for over 10,000 years!Here is a very frightening piece...Codex Alimentarius: Big Pharma's Attempt to Subjugate Planet Earth... WAY OUT IS THE WAY IN...DAVID RAY GRIFFIN: ALMOST PERFECT ABOUT 9/11! SEE - 9/11 Lecture by Professor David Ray Griffin as Seen on C-SPAN2: Spread Dr. Griffin's 9/11 Gospel to Church Groups and Indie Media: Act Of War! - 911:
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on May 10, 2005 at 18:04:13 PT
News Article from
UCSD Researchers Studying Marijuana, Pain ReliefIllegal Drug Could One Day Be Legitimate MedicineMay 10, 2005SAN DIEGO -- The debate over whether medicinal marijuana can provide pain relief could be settled by local researchers. 
 University of California, San Diego, scientists are seeing if cannibis can ease the pain of cancer patients. Some people in pain are finding relief by smoking marijuana. They believe it works.Researchers at UCSD's "Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research" want to know if the marijuana can really ease pain."There is a large amount of research ongoing right now at UCSD to answer these questions," said Dr. Mark Wallace, UCSD pain researcher.Pain specialist Wallace believes this forbidden plant can provide pain relief.Wallace recruited healthy volunteers, including college students, to see if cannibis had any effect on pain.Study participants were given cannabis and then injected under the skin with a derivative of hot chili pepper."The results suggest that there is a theraputic window of the cannibis. If you don't get enough of it, you don't get pain relief. If you get too much of it, you actually increase their pain," said Wallace.The study Wallace was involved with helped researchers determine a safe and effective dose of cannibis for pain relief.More research is planned that could one day make this illegal drug a legitimate medicine."I think we need to keep working to demonstrate the medicinal use of cannabis by good, quality research and then get it in the hands of a pharmacist," said Wallace.Cancer patients are now being enrolled in a new study using cannabis.For more information on these studies, call 619-543-5024.Copyright 2004 by 10News.comMEDICAL MARIJUANAShould It Be Legal? Please Vote:
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