Haze of Laws and Rules for Medical Marijuana

Haze of Laws and Rules for Medical Marijuana
Posted by CN Staff on February 18, 2007 at 07:14:05 PT
By Martin Espinoza, Staff Writer
Source: Press Democrat
California -- Ten years after state voters approved the use of medical marijuana, Sonoma County's courts, law enforcement, politicians - and patients - are still struggling to make the law work in the face of unyielding federal policy that considers any use of the drug illegal.That conflict is playing out this month in two Sonoma County courtrooms, in the Sebastopol council chambers and in the daily lives of 375 holders of state-issued medical marijuana ID cards who face huge fee increases.
The courts are dealing with law enforcement authorities who are refusing to return medical marijuana because they say they are bound by federal law.At the same time, Sebastopol, following the lead of Santa Rosa and county government, is trying to set rules for setting up medical pot dispensaries in the city.The result is a dizzying array of costly policies and regulations intended to both regulate marijuana use and help and protect medical marijuana users."It's a big mess," said Sonoma County Sheriff Bill Cogbill. "I'm really worried about how this is all going to play out. Unless something is done to clarify the law in this regard, we're going to see the proliferation of marijuana in society."Berta Bollinger, 54, an active member and patient of the Caregiver Compassion Center in Santa Rosa, said advocates are working hard to get the federal government to recognize medicinal uses for marijuana."It's not going to happen in this administration," said Bollinger, who has a doctor's recommendation to use medical marijuana to treat her depression, panic disorder and pain and fatigue symptoms. "It's a slow process but we're getting there."The proposed ordinance that goes before the Sebastopol City Council on Tuesday would require a public permit process handled through the city's Planning Department. Cotati also is considering an ordinance to regulate dispensaries within city limits.Sebastopol and Cotati are moving forward after a period of several years in which cities countywide put a halt to the unregulated cannabis clubs that began appearing after the passage of Proposition 215, the Compassionate Use Act of 1996.Local Officials on Their OwnSince the act does not address the issue of how or where people are supposed to get their medical marijuana, local officials are on their own designing local regulations."It's been a struggle. This was just so unclear in state law," said Jane Riley, a planner with the Sonoma County Permit Resource and Planning Department. "With things like granny units, state law is very specific."Sonoma County gave preliminary approval three weeks ago to an ordinance allowing for dispensaries to be set up in urban areas of the unincorporated county. The ordinance, which goes before supervisors March 20 for final approval, would require dispensaries to obtain a use permit to operate.The final language in the ordinance is currently being fine-tuned, but supervisors have said they do not want on-site consumption and that operations should be restricted to beyond 1,000 feet of a school ground.Under the proposed Sebastopol ordinance, only one dispensary would be permitted during the first year the ordinance is enacted. Another would be allowed in the second year. The number of dispensaries would be capped at two."We are putting it through the standard public hearing process," said Kenyon Webster, a city planner in Sebastopol. "We see this as a sensitive land use that needs careful review."Webster cited potential adverse effects, such as parking and traffic problems as well as the potential for criminal activity.Criminal activity is the element that upsets neighbors and the reason cities struggle to find locations.In November, two men carrying guns and wearing ski masks forced their way into a Sebastopol home, bound the couple living there and left with marijuana plants intended for medical use.In April, a 31-year-old Santa Rosa man was shot and killed in his Wheeler Street home. Police believe the shooter was there to take the victim's marijuana, kept for medical reasons.Such examples have cities throughout the county moving carefully as they try to determine just where to allow marijuana to be sold."There are significant legal issues between what the voters of California envision and the federal government," said Webster.Unlike under the county ordinance, on-site consumption would be allowed in Sebastopol.Legal experts say that inconsistencies such as these are a direct result of a lack of direction from the state.Santa Rosa City Attorney Brien Farrell said it's taken many years to make sense of Proposition 215 and SB 420, subsequent state legislation that created a voluntary medical marijuana ID program that was supposed to clear up ambiguities in the original proposition.Law Still Getting Worked Out"There's a clear desire for consistency and clarity and an interpretation of what rules apply," Farrell said. "What is the law in California? That is still getting worked out these many years later."Santa Rosa got its medical marijuana ordinance in November 2005, just seven months after adopting a ban to gain control of unregulated dispensaries, including one on Sonoma Avenue near Juilliard Park.Nowhere has the conflict between federal and state marijuana laws become more evident than in the county courtrooms, where some law enforcement officials are refusing to return confiscated medical marijuana.On Thursday, Deputy Sonoma County Counsel Anne Keck, representing the Sheriff's Department, was handed a setback in her effort to avoid returning 25 pounds of marijuana taken from the home of an employee of Marvin's Garden, a medical marijuana cooperative in Guerneville.Superior Court Judge Raima Ballinger rejected Keck's request for lengthy civil discovery that would allow the Sheriff's Department to verify the legitimacy of Marvin's Garden, as well as the employee, Kenneth Wilson."We don't think that returning this property is legal," said Keck, adding that it was not clear if the marijuana was being held by "a lawful person." Judge Cites Court's RoleBallinger made it clear to Keck that it was up to the court to decide whether the marijuana should be returned and that the job of the Sheriff's Department was to act as custodian of the confiscated property.In a similar case, Judge Lawrence Antolini has ordered the Santa Rosa Police Department to return 18 pounds of medical marijuana to Shashon Jenkins, 26.Jenkins was arrested in October but the District Attorney's Office decided not to file charges after Jenkins provided evidence that he was a medical marijuana user and a provider for other patients.In both cases, law enforcement officials argue that returning the marijuana would put them in jeopardy of violating federal laws that make marijuana illegal, regardless of whether it is being used for medicinal purposes.But William Panzer, an Oakland-based attorney who co-wrote Proposition 215, said that argument is a smoke screen. Panzer, who represents Marvin's Garden, said it's a question of jurisdiction."If you're in federal court, federal law applies. If you're in state court, state law applies," said Panzer. "Law enforcement doesn't like (Proposition 215) and they don't want to follow it."Lack of Federal Clarity Sheriff Cogbill said it's not that simple. He wants more clarification from both the Supreme Court and Congress.Cogbill said the 2005 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that said medical use of marijuana was still illegal under existing federal laws fell short of declaring such laws as Proposition 215 illegal."What it does is put law enforcement and criminal justice in a quandary," Cogbill said. "If it has a medical use, then the federal government needs to recognize that and schedule it as one of those drugs that has a medical purpose."The quasi-legitimacy of marijuana use has led to a lack of oversight and regulation of its use as a medicine, Cogbill said."If we don't have tighter controls on it, it's going to get out of hand," said Cogbill. "Those cannabis clubs have to get their pot from someplace. Are we now allowing organized crime to have a foothold in our community?"The challenges are significant, but they are the natural result of trying to resolve the law and community needs, said one medical marijuana provider.John Sugg of the Caregiver Compassion Center in Santa Rosa said city and county ordinances regulating marijuana dispensaries are a sign that marijuana laws are being taken seriously."Sure, it's been 10 years since the law passed, but the (Santa Rosa) ordinance demonstrates that the whole thing is maturing," he said.Source: Press Democrat, The (Santa Rosa, CA)Author: Martin Espinoza, Staff WriterPublished: Sunday, February 18, 2007Copyright: 2007 The Press DemocratContact: letters pressdemo.comWebsite: Medical Marijuana Archives
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Comment #18 posted by museman on February 19, 2007 at 10:30:00 PT
correcting my dislexic fingers
"We are born with everything we need, with our own faulties, and the providence of the Great Spirit and Sacred Mother."That should have been 'faculties' not faulties- lol. 
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Comment #17 posted by museman on February 19, 2007 at 10:23:43 PT
The fiasco of 'regulating' cannabis, is a perfect example nearly all branches of government, who expend great amounts of energy, and paper, (Our trees) on telling people how to work, how to act, how to think, how to have sex and marriage, and which jesus to worship.Cannabis, like the lilies of the field was created by God, grows under it's own initiative (and like anything else grows better under a nurturing hand), and doesn't need any foolish political fops determining how when and where it is going to grow or be used.Human beings are essentially the same. We are born without government, it is not part of the divine plan. We are born with everything we need, with our own faulties, and the providence of the Great Spirit and Sacred Mother. Governments are nothing more than employment for the idle rich, which wouldn't be idle if they had to work for their daily meals like the rest of us. They've stolen the entire life process, wrapped it in the false values of money and property, and then created another falsehood, which is the class system of masters and slaves to 'regulate' it.This is the reason why for years I resisted the medical movement (not against it, just had no faith in it). As long as we continue to actually, and really give our faith and belief to this government of criminals, liars, thieves, perverts, and self-assuming shallow minded hypocrits, then they will get their fingers in any and every pie we can bake. They will get their un-earned, un-deserved cut of our labors, and use it to further their agendas of creating more slavery, more powerful rich, and world domination.
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Comment #16 posted by dongenero on February 19, 2007 at 08:13:46 PT
prohibition controls the market for criminals
"If we don't have tighter controls on it, it's going to get out of hand," said Cogbill. "Those cannabis clubs have to get their pot from someplace. Are we now allowing organized crime to have a foothold in our community?"Prohibition is what gives organized crime a foothold in your community, Sheriff Cogbill. Prohibition makes the cannabis market the domain of the criminals. Look what prohibtion did for Al Capone. It was not that long easily these lessons are forgotten.I think people are not as interested in truly reducing crime as much as they are interested in perpetuating the economy of fighting crime and imprisoning criminals.
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Comment #15 posted by FoM on February 19, 2007 at 08:13:13 PT
Pot Advocate Among 3 Killed Saturday 
A Rocky Mountain News Article.,1299,DRMN_15_5362602,00.html
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Comment #14 posted by FoM on February 19, 2007 at 08:11:31 PT
Medical-Pot Advocate Slain in Denver Home
A Denver Post Article.
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Comment #13 posted by FoM on February 18, 2007 at 21:05:03 PT
Thank you. I don't know what happened. Maybe we will hear more soon. 
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Comment #12 posted by Toker00 on February 18, 2007 at 20:14:19 PT
He was a Yahookan, FoM. He organized smoke outs on the steps of the capital building. He was bold and admired by many. I know this sounds cliche', but I wonder if this was a DEA black op? Ya have to wonder.Toke.
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Comment #11 posted by The GCW on February 18, 2007 at 18:51:51 PT
Update: LAFAYETTE, Colorado / Judge Frieling 
US CO: Lafayette to delay action on proposed marijuana penalty
  Pubdate: 18 Feb 2007 Source: Summit Daily News (CO)Viewed at: — The City Council has postponed consideration of a proposal that prompted a backup judge to resign and that would stiffen penalties for marijuana possession.The proposal, approved on first reading Feb. 6, would repeal a $100 fine for marijuana possession, increasing the possible penalty to the city’s default maximum of a $1,000 fine and a year in jail.Backup municipal court Judge Leonard Frieling resigned last week in protest of the proposal and said he could not sit on the bench while being unwilling to enforce municipal ordinances.City officials said the resignation would have little effect because Frieling had not been called in more than a year, and a new associate municipal court judge was appointed in April.On Friday, the City Council pulled final approval of the proposal from its agenda for Tuesday and scheduled a public workshop April 3 to discuss the issue further.
Mayor Chris Berry said that would give city leaders more time to see what other communities are doing.“I think it will give us some time to get some questions answered that may not have been asked,” Berry said.
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Comment #10 posted by ekim on February 18, 2007 at 18:16:13 PT
the last word ----tour
every late night show should have him on.Colbert--- Word-HempOprah -- Book of the monthMythbusters-----and many many more-- what do you think?
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Comment #9 posted by ekim on February 18, 2007 at 18:09:17 PT
here is a candle for us to light ------ spring Herer will release the twelfth edition of Emperor, updated with new findings in the quest to end marijuana prohibition. At 67 years old and with an even dozen editions under his belt, Herer will be promoting this release through a nationwide tour called "The Last Word."Last week, Sir Richard Branson, best known for enterprising the Virgin mega brand, cut the ribbon on his latest innovation: The Virgin Earth Challenge. Branson's "Earth Challenge" is a contest to present the best concept for ridding the earth of greenhouse gasses and boasts a staggering $25 million prize for the winning idea.'Sunshine' thinks that Herer deserves it.
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Comment #8 posted by FoM on February 18, 2007 at 18:06:20 PT
I recognized his name but I can't remember why. It is very sad. Oh how I hate violence.
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Comment #7 posted by Toker00 on February 18, 2007 at 17:46:26 PT
Rest in Peace, Guv.
The Governor did his share for reform. He will be missed. Another huge victim of Cannabis Prohibition.Toke.
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Comment #6 posted by FoM on February 18, 2007 at 17:42:34 PT
Marijuana Advocate Ken Gorman Dies In Shooting
By Raj Chohan, ReportingVideo: DENVER -- A Denver man known as a pioneer in Colorado's medical marijuana community was shot and killed Saturday night after his house was broken into.Ken Gorman, an outspoken advocate for legalizing marijuana, grew pot in his home on the 1,000 block of South Decatur Street.Denver police said they are investigating the shooting, but were releasing few details Sunday afternoon. Family members told CBS4 Gorman was the victim in the crime.Last weekend, CBS4's Rick Sallinger did an investigation on Colorado's medical marijuana law that centered on Gorman. Gorman had recently been giving seminars on how to use the law to obtain the drug even if you aren't sick.Gorman was on Colorado's medical marijuana registry. He said he had been suffering chronic pain from bersitis.A CBS4 employee recently approached Gorman with a hidden camera and told him he only wanted marijuana to get high. Gorman then filled a form designating CBS4's employee as one of his caregivers."When we passed the law we passed a great, great law," Gorman said to the CBS4 employee. "There are so many holes in it that for us, the patient, police can't do anything."Gorman was also the host of an annual large marijuana smoke-out at the state capitol. He once ran for the state's highest office, and earned the nickname, "the governor."Colorado is one of 11 states that has legalized the use of marijuana for medical reasons.Copyright: MMVII CBS Television Stations, Inc.
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Comment #5 posted by FoM on February 18, 2007 at 11:27:19 PT
nuevo mexican
Thanks! That was really funny.
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Comment #4 posted by nuevo mexican on February 18, 2007 at 10:54:32 PT
Happy Sunday FOM and folks!!!
Here is something off topic, to make your day!Enjoy this great video compilation, you are guaranteed to laugh!Prepare yourself first!The Sunday Funnies:
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Comment #3 posted by FoM on February 18, 2007 at 09:23:39 PT
Put This in Your Pipe and Smoke It
Excerpt from U.S. News and World Report.Sunday, February 18, 2007Advocates for medical marijuana got a boost last week from a small study supporting the theory that pot can alleviate pain. Research on 50 HIV patients plagued by neuropathic pain, published in the journal Neurology, showed that smoking cannabis offered relief comparable with that gained from previously studied oral pain medications-which aren't always tolerated. Those on the drug reported a 34 percent reduction in day-to-day pain, compared with 17 percent among placebo smokers. David Murray, chief scientist at the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, sees "enormous potential" for the substances in cannabis-in purified, standardized, non-lung-harming form. One such drug, a pill, is approved to stimulate appetite in HIV patients and lessen side effects of chemotherapy, but not to treat pain. - S.B.
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Comment #2 posted by dirtmover on February 18, 2007 at 08:46:12 PT
We grow our own.The local cops KNOW we grow our own, and have for eight years.They decided to mess with us again, last fall.3 MMJ patients with 23 plants, but our son was out of state at the time.After checking our recommendations, they confiscated 8 plants, claiming we had "too many".They claimed "the limit" was 6 plants per patient, but left my wife and I fifteen?I hope they enjoyed them.They haven't been back....... yet.
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Comment #1 posted by The GCW on February 18, 2007 at 07:57:44 PT
Turn it around.
Re-legalize the plant cannabis (kaneh bosm / marijuana) and face huge fee DEcreases.Don't let dogs bite Your ankle.
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